|HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?
It was realized around 1988-89 that, both on efficiency and ethical grounds, the prevalent mode of knowledge extraction from people, and dissemination among them, were non-sustainable. This knowledge asymmetry has been historic. Knowledge has been extracted, documented without any acknowledgement to the source of knowledge. The documented knowledge has not been communicated to the knowledge holder for feedback. These practices have not only impoverished the knowledge holders by pushing them further down in the oblivion, but also have hampered the growth of an informal knowledge system, that is robust in nurturing creativity. While there were numerous public/ private channels for diffusing innovations produced in formal sector, similar channels for diffusion and value addition of informal innovations were not available. So much so that knowledge rich and economically poor people could not benefit, particularly in marginal environments, from the formal technologies, nor could they learn from the innovations, due to lack of extensive knowledge network. People’s knowledge has been utilized in some cases for developing value-added products. In most cases, the beneficiaries of value added products were not the same as the providers of the knowledge. Thus the knowledge asymmetry reinforces the subsequent asymmetry in communication, power, benefit and reward sharing. The benevolence of the knowledge providers becomes the source of their impoverishment.
It was to overcome this ethical and professional crisis that the Honey Bee Network was born some 25 years ago. Honey Bee is a metaphor indicating ethical as well as professional values, which most of us seldom practice. A honey bee does two things that we intellectuals, often don’t do. It collects pollen from the flowers and flowers don’t complain and it connects flower to flower through pollination. Similarly our innovative and ethical approach to knowledge extraction, our sincere attempt to build up people to people communication and our commitment to let reasonable benefit be shared with the knowledge holders, qualifies us to identify ourselves with the great metaphor of Honey Bee.