Leading the kindly innovation light!


The country is taking a quantum leap in bringing about a sea transformation in changing the lives of people at large for better, thanks to stellar role of the mavericks who are leaving no stone unturned to improve lives through pioneering work in Science and Technology, says Trisha Sharma. 

Innovation, by definition, is the introduction of something new or a change made to an existing idea, product or service. It is the key to success of an organisation and society as well. Innovations, particularly technological, affect all aspects of modern day living.

India is a pioneer when it comes to innovations that benefit the society at large. Indian ‘mavericks’ behind these innovations and inventions come from different strata of society and educational backgrounds, some even ‘uneducated’. But, their ideas and creations are helping in the advancement of society, solving social problems and improving lives of billions of people in India and around the world.

Innovation is the core of existence today. It’s important that an innovation brings about a positive change or improves an existing situation. Today, technology is carefully integrated with all human activities and technological innovations are reshaping the society. Innovations improve a nation’s economic growth, educational capabilities, general health and well-being of the people and help in curbing social risks too. Innovators are finding solutions to global issues such as climate change and local matters such as designing a drone to spray pesticide on a farm.

India offers nurturing ground to innovators

India has always been a leader in the realm of science, technology and innovations in these fields. Inventions made in the country have inspired and helped the world. India is already a world leader in several technologies and is set to become a global leader in technologies aiding sustainable development and sustainable living. Various government agencies, institutions and educational entities work towards providing an encouraging and nurturing ground to young innovators and those from under-privileged backgrounds.

These entities work to ensure there is proper scouting and support given to grassroots innovations. They also work to ensure there is a distribution of grassroots innovations in a planned and sustained manner. Innovations that meet the environmental needs and socio-economic needs of the society must be encouraged.

It’s important to have innovations that further self-reliance where needed and help in the generation of people-generated sustainable technologies. India provides the right blend of traditional knowledge and modern education and knowledge to innovators. It’s important to establish the link between the formal education system and traditional knowledge systems to create a product or a service that serves the society well.

Initiatives to further the spirit of innovation

Besides the support from the various ministries and departments, there are several initiatives of the government that help further the spirit of innovation. The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is a Government of India’s flagship initiative ‘to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.’ Atal Innovation Mission was launched with a vision to ‘Cultivate one million children in India as Neoteric Innovators.’ Its objective is to develop new programmes and policies for fostering innovation in different sectors of the economy, provide platform and collaboration opportunities for different stake-holders, create awareness and create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country.

Atal Innovation Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India. The objective of this scheme is ‘to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mind-set, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.’ ATL is a work space where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands on do-it-yourself mode; and learn innovation skills. Young children get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

There are several other initiatives and programmes by public and private entities that promote social awareness and applications of such innovations. Also, many work towards the incorporation of such programmes in educational spheres starting from school, in the country’s developmental policies and other programmes.

Young mavericks shine bright

When Tilak Mehta founded Paper n Parcel, he became the world’s youngest entrepreneur who made a digital courier company by providing one day parcel service with the help of Mumbai’s famous Dabbawalas. Tilak got the inspiration to create the company from the swiftness and efficiency of Mumbai’s dabbawalas whose accurate tiffin delivery services have garnered world-wide attention. The vision behind his idea was to “Make everyone’s life easier no matter if they are a delivery partner, a Dabbawala or a loyal customer.”

Tilak Mehta’s success story is only indicative of the potential and the surge of millions of success stories around the country where the innovator is a young mind. Such innovations have been recognised by everyone including the State and several other organisations that identify and provide platform to such Mavericks to “help India become a creative and knowledge-based society by expanding policy and institutional space for grassroots technological innovators.” Children of all ages are designing products that help the visually-impaired, the physically handicapped, the infirm and those with learning and hearing disabilities. There are those who are environment conscious and have designed apps and appliances to track air pollution, vehicular emissions and to reduce the carbon footprint of human activities.

The start-up landscape

In the last couple of decades, the Indian start-up and innovation landscape has grown tremendously. The affiliated industries have seen a significant boom of inventors and innovators that are brining positive change through technology and are finding simple, innovative solutions to problems plaguing the society. These individuals draw their success to their power of observation combined with sense of empathy and a desire for change. It’s this desire that has helped the innovators to address problems – big and small.
These technological innovators are the future of the nation. They are the enables of change when other solutions fail. They see solutions to problems that others struggle with on a daily basis. They are the trailblazers who have positively affected human lives in India and beyond.

The several realms of innovation

In India, there are plenty of brilliant minds that are influencing several spheres of human existence such as health and medicine, environment, design and technology, public service, education, home appliances, etc. Mavericks in India have created some of the most path-breaking ideas and products that have inspired innovators from around the world. As we embark upon the 22nd century, there’ll be new challenges. Today, the world is changing faster than before and the problems that have challenged humanity are evolving every day. No one could have imagined that the most medically-advanced nations would fall down on their knees to the novel coronavirus aka COVID-19.

Had it not been for those who could think ‘out of the box’ and imagine brand new solutions to eke out a ‘strategy’ to bring the world out of one of the worst crises of all times, it would have been a very different world today. These brilliant minds worked tirelessly for months on end, with hard work, determination and empathy to find ways to put an end to the pandemic. In India, the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the largest vaccination drive in the world, is set to inoculate the largest democracy in the world.

Over centuries, across the world, innovators of the time have found ingenious solutions to problems of that time. Innovation is essential to a healthy society. They are changing the world one day at a time.

Trisha Sharma

Trisha Sharma is a media researcher with The History and Heritage Project – A DraftCraft International Initiative to document details, analyse facts and plug lacunae generated by oversight or to further national or foreign agenda in History and Heritage Across India and Beyond Borders