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Magazine Editorial

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Title Second National Seminar on Social Innovation: Bridging the missing links for inclusive development
Details With the rise in social aspirations and increasing heterogeneity in social exchange relations, it is inevitable that some social needs remain unmet. Neither state nor markets are able to meet them adequately or pervasively. In such cases, social innovators and entrepreneurs often emerge to fill the gap. Why will a normal program for the blind for instance try to develop photography skill for the blind? Why would the state set up an academy for physically challenged people to climb mountain peaks, even Everest? How will new kind of institutional arrangements emerge to meet the need for sanitary napkins when hardly five per cent of rural women use them? How should they be disposed off safely? Should decentralized production and disposal be part of personal and social hygiene philosophy? How do we fund social innovations? How do we leverage the policy implications of various innovations at regional, national and global level? Micro-finance began as a social experiment by Elaben and Md. Yunus. It became a social movement. Some day micro-venture innovation finance begun by Honey Bee Network in 1997 and later institutionalized with the help of the Gujarat Government through GIAN and SIDBI will also become a global movement. The social innovation eco-system is still very nebulous in public policy and formal institutional outreach. When a start-up in Pune uses poor quality plastic waste collected through rag pickers and does a pilot to make 3-D printers out of it, he creates a new horizon in social entrepreneurial space. When these 3-D printers are used to make components of various industrial products, a new dimension of inclusive profitable, and socially distributed value chain emerges. The Second Social innovation Seminar is a modest attempt to fill various gaps in the national polity. It is hoped that lateral learning among social innovators will be one of the most important pay offs of the Seminar. Emergence of a knowledge and action network, which may be hosted by PIC, Pune as a policy and institutional incubator in due course, may be another major pay off. These are ideas, which have to be concretized through collaborative action. All stakeholders who feel convinced about the need of such a platform should get back and take these ideas forward together. In the current “Decade of Innovation”, there is a widespread social expectation that many gaps in the developmental chain are likely to be bridged through technological, institutional, cultural, educational and social innovations. However, there is no specific platform, which not only identifies but also facilitates bridging of these gaps. The gaps in the developmental chain emerge because many of the ex-ante and ex-post transaction costs are not specified and met properly. Both state and market fail to identify those needs, which people have but often do not articulate. In an articulation response model [Gupta, 1992], it was argued that the failure can take place at several stages: [a] conversion of unfelt need into felt need, [b] articulation of some of the felt needs, [c] aggregation of these felt needs, [d] registration by the supply system, [e] response and satisfactory or unsatisfactory experience of the communities with the response. Every time an unfelt, unarticulated, disaggregated need gets felt, articulated and aggregated and registered, the possibility of a positive response emerges. There are several other ways in which the exclusion of various community needs at spatial, sectoral, seasonal and social level can be understood. The first national Seminar was organised to understand the innovative ways in which public systems, private organisations, civil society groups and individuals have tried to innovate to make society more inclusive and in some cases, more collaborative too. It was decided to organize such a conference every year at Pune on November 17. The conference has attracted some of the most eminent social innovators of the country who agreed that a platform like this was long overdue to be able to articulate the policy, institutional, technological and educational issues. Organisation of the Seminar The second seminar is being organised by CMA, IIMA in close collaboration with Pune International Centre [PIC], National Innovation Foundation, International Longevity Centre, Pune, SRISTI, Ahmedabad and other institutions of Honey Bee Network. Dr. V.L.Kelkar had actually spawned the idea and gave the opening address. Dr.R.A.Mashelkar set the stage last year for the dialogue among various social innovators and other stakeholders. This year we have Dr. R. A. Mashelkar and Dr. D.R. Mehta as co-chairs leading the dialogue on closing the gap. The conference has been divided in to five modules a] saralta [simplifying a complex solution], [b] sahajata [spontaneity as a response to bureaucratic delivery systems], [c] sampreshan [a dialogue or communication about successful solutions], [d] samvedana [empathetic assimilation of the problem for generating flexible solutions], e) Swachhata-personal and social hygiene, health and well being; has been added as a new track so that the sanitation drive triggered by The PM’s call from Red Fort is taken to every nook and corner of India. Social innovations invariably involve all the five values. The relative emphasis may be different in each case. It is a major national initiative by CMA, IIMA and we hope that with the support of NIF and other institutions, this platform will become an annual occasion for taking stock of the state of art in the field of inclusive social innovation. We hope that more partners, volunteers and supporters will join this effort so that leading social innovators feel that they are not alone any more. The reason for NIF to join this effort is to enrich the social innovation eco-system for grassroots innovators. We hope that many grassroots innovators will get support in diffusion and incubation from social innovators and entrepreneurs. Many of the grassroots innovators may lack the ability to articulate their vision and agenda at various institutional fora. We hope that social innovators will lend their social and institutional capital and voice to empower the creative and innovative voices at grassroots.
Volume No. Honey Bee 25(3) 17, 2014

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