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Indian Grassroots Innovation

A quick spot of cross-posting from my recent interview with Anil Gupta which featured on Design Observer this week.
Anil Gupta serves as senior faculty at the prestigious Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) from where he champions the recognition, respect and reward of those who are knowledge-rich yet economically poor.

Alongside consulting global development agencies he formed the Honey Bee Network in the late eighties which nurtures and cross-pollinates grassroots knowledge, creativity and innovation. Via various platforms stemming from the network – scouting, documentation, validation and dissemination of innovations are pursued while seeking to catalyse knowledge into feasible products and sustainable enterprises.

Meena Kadri
How would you describe your mission across your many initiatives?

Anil Gupta
To enhance the inherent creativity of grassroots innovators, inventors and eco-preneurs while exploring a new paradigm for poverty alleviation that celebrates inclusive development. We focus on devising a knowledge network from village to government level while overcoming the constraints posed by language, literacy and locality. We also facilitate the documentation and cross-pollination of traditional knowledge across India.

Meena Kadri
How do you see these endeavors playing a role in reducing poverty?

Anil Gupta
Most models of development are centered on what the poor don’t have rather than what they have. Some position the poor at the bottom of the economic pyramid, but this does not equate to a lack of knowledge, values and social networks. I prefer to see the poor as a provider than a market — with their limited material resources driving knowledge-intensive, informal innovation. Through providing incubation and development support, patent and intellectual-property-rights assistance, marketing advice and microventure funding, we seek to support the creativity that already exists at the grassroots.

Read the complete interview at Design Observer.
Mitti Cool cookware by Mansukhbhai Prajapati, from Gujarat
Gas-powered iron by K Linga Brahman, from Andra Pradesh
Pressure-cooker coffee maker by Mohammed Rozadeen, from Bihar

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