Understanding the tremendous potentiality of information and communication technology in furthering the cause of traditional knowledge and grassroots innovations, SRISTI has initiated a number of activities to network innovators, investors and entrepreneurs and facilitate the dissemination of knowledge and information pertaining to grassroots creativity. The ICT initiatives of SRISTI has aimed at easing the task of accessing the innovation database of Honey Bee Network breaking the barrier of language and medium of data transmission. The initiatives have also taken particular care to facilitate peer learning among the innovators and traditional knowledge holders on one hand and with the institutions of formal excellence and world of entrepreneurship on the other hand. Following are some of the initiatives taken by SRISTI in the field of using ICT to promote grassroots creativity.
Knowledge Network for Augmenting Grassroots Innovation (Know-Net Grin) Project
The project was implemented with the support from InfoDev division of World Bank and was jointly implemented with IIM, Ahmedabad. Honey Bee Network has mobilized those creative and innovative farmers, artisans, mechanics, fishermen and women and labourers who have solved the problems through their own genius without any outside help, whether from state, market, or even NGOs. Such self triggered and developed innovations whether technological or institutional are scouted, supported, sustained and scaled up wherever possible with or without value addition, or linkage with formal science and technology institutions. Idea is to generate incentives and benefits for the innovators and traditional knowledge holders. The innovations could be developed by individuals or groups. These may have been developed in recent past or long past and some times these innovations or creative practices might have become part of traditional knowledge. We thus also look for outstanding examples of traditional knowledge, which help in conserving and utilizing natural resources in a sustainable manner.
The network encountered several problems in reaching out to the innovators and hence the genesis of Electronic Knowledge Network for Innovators called "Know Net-Grin". The project proposed to develop a model of such a network through a joint initiative with IIM, Ahmedabad, where SRISTI would develop multimedia/multilanguage interface for accessing the database of innovations. IIMA helped to evolve a model of clearing-house of innovations for value addition to these innovation and traditional knowledge.
The project began with the following objectives
- To create a model of electronic network of innovators linked with users & peers through village based kiosks with multimedia/multilingual database, communicating in local language
- To reduce the feedback loop between users and innovators
- To create a clearing house, so that potential investors, venture capital or angle investors & entrepreneurs can link up with grassroots innovators, thus facilitating a golden triangle of innovation, investment & enterprise
- To build bridge between formal & informal science
- To develop a registry of inventions and innovations around the world & making it accessible to various stakeholders without impairing the intellectual property rights of the knowledge holders
- A prototype network (IIMA-WAN) with multimedia / multilingual database for the "e- knowledge network' was developed and tested at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. The IIMA-WAN initially supported two languages and provided services such as feedback on innovations, submission of new innovations, ideas bank, and category-based search of the Honey Bee database besides other features such as discussion groups, mailing list and helpline. Later on, an offline kiosk was added to this prototype network which updated itself from the server. This expanded the scope of the model. Field-testing showed that sustained connectivity at many locations was not possible to enable data exchange.
- After the field-testing of the IIMA-WAN prototype and identifying the problems, we made major changes in our design. This design was tested first in the IIMA-WAN; later it was implemented simultaneously at three locations to check how much sustained data exchange could be achieved in conditions of low connectivity. This new network model, which is functional now, constitutes an offline-working kiosk based in villages. . It allows access to various services and information through multimedia/multilanguage user interfaces working independent of the connectivity.
- The first node of Gujarat was put in Dharampur village, near Baroda. This node was located at an innovative farmer's house. Later on, two nodes were put for six months each in the villages of Paharpur and Modassa, in Sabarkantha District, located at innovators places. All kiosks provided various services enabled in the software, besides access to the Honey Bee database in multimedia/ local language in audio/video/text form. Users interaction generated at kiosk is recorded offline and answers to queries are provided to users later. A helpline on telephone has been set up to provide direct answers to the queries of the farmers and innovators.
- SRISTI entered into partnership with Dhan Foundation (Development of Humane Action) to put Honey Bee Kiosk application in its network of about 20 kiosks in Madurai District of Tamil Nadu. One node was put up at SEVA Madurai office, where innovators coming to interact are able to access information, while another Kiosk was put at Sevaiyoor, field office of another partner organization CCD (Covenant Centre for Development) in Virudhnagar District of Tamil Nadu, which provided access to traditional knowledge holders coming to the centre.
- Experiences gained from various access models for the community in which we explored partnerships with education institutions, innovators, NGOs and private/government initiatives, led us to go in for a new model. This model conceptualized as "Gyan Manthan Kendra" (GMK) developed partnership with the community in running the centre. Aithore village in Mehsana district of Gujarat was identified to test this model. The overall experience in this model was satisfactory. We hope to take up these centers in other parts of the country. GMK would connect innovators and traditional knowledge holders across language and cultural barriers and would become crucial link in the knowledge network, allowing direct interfacing with the scientific community. The idea is not to use kiosk to just link ignorant locals with expert externals (some of it will happen though) but churn knowledge within village and then make the village a provider of knowledge as much as receiver of knowledge.
Though there were numerous challenges for the project, mostly in the realms of connectivity, we perceived it as a learning process and carried on the activities with such limitations. However the project experience was instrumental in helping us believe in the networking and disseminating potentiality of ICT for grassroots creativity.
Women, Wisdom and Well Being
This project had aimed at documentation, dissemination, value addition and networking of women innovators, their knowledge and wisdom for their well being. During this phase, we adapted SRISTI methodology and also evolved new methodology for scouting the women innovators. Scouting of new women innovator, through the women scouts was a special approach undertaken during this project. This project could also extend support for the formal education of around 282 girl students of earthquake devastated regions of Gujarat and also resulted in the compilation of 127 thesis on 'Women's indigenous knowledge practices'. It also has explored, devised and successfully accomplished new ways of documenting women's knowledge even on non-conventional food items through 13 recipe contests. By the means of conduction of interviews and questionnaires it has explored and demonstrated women's wider knowledge base in the areas of agriculture, livestock management, human health, socio-cultural issues etc.
The project has enabled 'SRISTI' to formulate veterinary herbal formulations and also helped in conducting on-farm trials for the 'Herbal Pesticide Formulations' to be used by women farmers. Even, the identification and promotion of best practices in various fields as achieved through this project has been recognised as key results.
The project has provided a forum for arranging many meetings with women innovators to identify the technological gaps and devising solutions. During the project, various efforts were also made through awards, honours, recognition and felicitation in order to encourage women innovators. Similarly many steps were taken to mobilize the funds for the women entrepreneur. We could also extend 'SRISTI' membership to women innovators and provide free access to compiled database on 'Innovative practices' and other literature published in regional languages. Also a compilation on 'Women Innovators' was disseminated through multi-media kiosks. An attempt was made to support the activities of women, women NGOs and women network.
Resolute attempts were also made to understand women's problems and devise solutions even through male innovators. It could go a long way in reducing the hardship of women. This was only because we had some of the outstanding innovators and technicians responding to sensitive problems faced by women.
Key Deliverables of the project:
Following are the key deliverables of the project:
- New approaches to scout women innovators and traditional knowledge holders were explored. Using these approaches, best women practitioner and practices were identified and rewarded for their promotion.
- Compilation of 127 theses on 'Women's Indigenous Knowledge'.
- Documentation of many non-conventional food items through 13 recipe contests.
- Extensive interviews involving 89 women to gather women's knowledge.
- Identification of 413 veterinary practices innovated by women in Gujarat.
- Developed 14 herbal veterinary formulations at Sadbhav-SRISTI Sansodhan Lab for women and men animal keepers.
- Helped women innovator in submitting proposal for TePP programme of Department of Science and Technology and nominated women innovators for prestigious ASPEE awards.
- Developed many devises to reduce drudgery of women.
- Included 15 best women innovators in the multimedia database kiosks.
- Invited women innovators to SRISTI board.
Grassroots Green Innovations Local Language Database Project (Supported by NISSAT, Department of Scientific & Industrial Research)
The project was supported by National Information System for Science & Technology (NISSAT), Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The project was the first phase of database development of 1500 outstanding practices in traditional knowledge, grassroots innovation and medicinal plants in multi-media and multiple languages. The database is currently available in four languages viz. English, Hindi, Gujarati and Tamil. SRISTI has entered into a partnership with AISECT, Bhopal for translating and documenting the traditional knowledge and innovations in Hindi. The database currently contains 4515 practices. The project has made the database available to grassroots innovators and traditional knowledge holders through remote nodes, located in rural areas and across regions in India. SRISTI had established a node at IIM, Ahmedabad and another one in one of the villages in Gujarat. Apart from that SRISTI has also established one regional node in Madurai, Tamil Nadu with the local collaborator. The database is also available on-line and is soon to be hosted on the server of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore for wider accessibility. Only those innovations and traditional knowledge, on which we have Prior Inform Consent (PIC), would be made accessible through the on-line database. The project has also documented 260 medicinal plants across many states in the country including Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerela and Karnataka. It includes documentation of information on various aspects f plants and translation of the information in four languages viz. Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil and English.
The site was launched in association with National Innovation Foundation (NIF) with active contribution from SRISTI. The site aims at creating a one-stop portal to involve professionals in the value chain for developing an innovation from grassroots level to a successful venture. It aims at creating a community of like minded stakeholders willing to share their professional expertise on terms suitable to them. Besides SRISTI and NIF, the site is also being supported by Gujarat Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) and Honey Bee Network. The site also aims at developing a space for on-line clearing house for the technology transfer of many products that are ready for commercialization.