SRISTI, setup in 1993, is a developmental voluntary organization aiming to strengthen the creativity of/at/for grassroots communities, and individual innovators. It supports eco-friendly solutions to local problems being scouted, spawned and spread by the Honey Bee Network for over 33 years. It also nurtures eco-preneurs engaged in conserving biodiversity, common property resources, cultural diversity and educational innovations. There are five pillars of Honey Bee Network which SRISTI is committed to reinforce:
- Educational innovations by school and college teachers, students and other stakeholders
- Institutional innovations at community and other levels in managing resources
- Improving access of knowledge-rich, economically poor people to trigger self-reliant development process
- Cultural creativity so that curiosity, collaboration, and compassion grow through art, literature and crafts etc.
- Technological innovations and traditional knowledge dealing with human, animal, plant and ecosystem health, and policy reforms to generate frugal innovations for sustainable development at all levels, with specific reference to youth, children, women and elderly.
You may read about our various activities and social movement pursued to empower the creative and compassionate people, get involved in the movement, download Honey Bee newsletter, research papers and be a Bee, volunteer, contribute, and own the only sky we have to share.
NOTE ON THE VISION STATEMENT
Global competitiveness of any society hinges on its ability to incorporate the spirit of excellence at all levels. As they say, a chain is as strong as its weakest link. The weakest link needs to be strengthened through inclusive governance. The decision making options of knowledge-rich economically disadvantaged communities and individuals can be widened by building upon their experimental and innovative spirit. Only then, can the whole chain be strong.
The wide reach of The Honey Bee Network has proved that technological and institutional innovations developed by individuals and communities can provide a new way of thinking about conservation of biodiversity, generation of sustainable alternatives for natural and other resource management through self-supporting, viable economic and non-economic self-reliant livelihood strategies.
- Systematic documentation and dissemination of grassroots green innovations, through value addition.
- Providing them protection of intellectual property rights and risk capital support.
- Help in in-situ and ex-situ conservation of local biodiversity and associated knowledge system.
- Empower the knowledge-rich but economically poor people by adding value to their innovations, traditional knowledge and associated biological as well as microbial diversity.
- Link formal and informal sciences to enrich both the knowledge systems.
- To provide early stage venture support to grassroots innovators, students and other mavericks to scale up their products and services based on grassroots innovations through commercial or non-commercial channels.
- To embed the insights learnt from grassroots innovations in the formal educational, policy and institutional systems in order to expand the conceptual and cognitive space available to these innovations.
SRISTI has helped establish GIAN (Gujarat Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network), National Innovation Foundation [NIF], Micro Venture Innovation Fund [MVIF], Techpedia.sristi.org and AASTIIK [Academy for Augmenting Sustainable Technological Inventions, Innovations and Traditional Knowledge] in support of innovators and their innovations. SRISTI created the Honey Bee database of innovations, and supports the publication of the Network’s newsletter in many languages. These are: Honey Bee (English), Gujarati (Loksarvani), Hindi (Sujh-Bujh Aas Paas Ki), Tamil (Num Vazhi Velanmai), Telugu (Palle Srujana), Malayalam (Ini Karshakan Samsarikkatte), and Odia (Aama Akha Pakha).
Over the years, we have worked on neglected domains like women’s knowledge systems, value addition through Sadbhav-SRISTI-Sanshodhan, a natural product laboratory. SRISTI organises Shodh Yatra (walking Journey of Exploration, https://www.sristi.org/shodhyatra/), Traditional Food Festival, Biodiversity, Idea and Recipe Competitions and maintains a repository of numerous grassroots innovations, traditional knowledge, engineering students’ projects, educational, cultural, and institutional innovations
SRISTI has been advocating for protecting knowledge rights of creative communities and individuals. We have organised several consultative sessions with the private sector, scientists, activists and development workers for discussing various issues related to the access to bio-diversity and associated knowledge rights. We have also organised worldwide contest for scouting and rewarding innovations at grassroots in collaboration with IFAD [The International Fund for Agricultural Development], Rome.
Techpedia.in, another initiative of SRISTI, aims at putting the problems of micro, small and medium enterprises, informal sector, grassroots innovators and other social sectors on the agenda of the young technology students across the country. The industry and academic institutions can collaborate, co-create and foster distributed innovations and promote both horizontal and vertical learning and sharing through this platform. SRISTI has also instituted three categories of national awards for innovative students/ faculty projects in engineering, pharmacy, biotechnology, basic sciences and other applied technologies in the form of Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Award (GYTI) since 2012 to promote a culture of innovation among the young minds of the country. Recently, BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council) has joined hands to reward 15 most powerful ideas in biomedical technologies and also support students in 100 socially relevant technologies at the idea or prototype stage.
SRISTI Samman is given periodically to outstanding social change agents. SRISTI is trying to build an online sanctuary of social, technological and institutional innovations through blend of open innovation, collaborative design, crowd-funding, incubation, e-commerce and challenge awards. We invite volunteers and collaborators to join us in this initiative.
Philosophy of Eight Es
These provide a framework for societies seeped in mediocrity to get over their inertia and move towards a compassionate, creative, competitive as well as collaborative society.
The ethical fulcrum of SRISTI can be captured by eight E’s (Ethics, empathy, equity, efficiency, excellence, environment, education and entrepreneurship) -the values that are central to the existence of Honey Bee Network.
Honey Bee Philosophy
Honey Bee signifies a philosophy of discourses, which is fair, authentic and accountable. It advocates people to people learning. The ethics of knowledge extraction, its documentation, dissemination and their abstraction into theories or technologies is the central concern of the Honey Bee Network.
Despite all claims about participatory research and action, seldom have we provided opportunity to creative innovators and traditional knowledge holders to do research themselves as well as in partnership or by hiring formal researchers. The institutional scientists have often only spoken about the cause of collegial partnership with the local communities and people without taking proper steps for intellectual participation of communities. An evidence of this problem is that almost no research council in developed or developing country requires local knowledge providers in villages to be acknowledged by their name and address. Most institutions do not insist on their prior informed consent. Although the scenario is changing in some of the developed countries, the lack of accountability towards knowledge providers is still inadequate in developing countries. The principles we can learn from the life of honeybee are:
- Just as flowers don’t complain when their nectar or pollen are taken away, people should not complain when their knowledge is documented by outsiders. But the knowledge providers should be acknowledged by their name and address and their intellectual property rights should be respected.
- The bees perform a very important function of cross-pollination thereby enriching diversity and ensuring the continuity of nature’s cycle. Unless we communicate in vernaculars in a manner that people can understand, people to people linkages will not be established and horizontal learning will not take place. Whenever any wealth is generated by disseminating people’s knowledge through commercial or non-commercial channel after adding value or without it, a fair share should go back to the people whose knowledge made that wealth possible
- Before disseminating people’s knowledge or bringing it in public domain, their prior informed consent should be taken.
Honey Bee encourages collaborators to initiate local language versions of Honey Bee Newsletter, so that people to people learning across the barriers of language, culture and region can be facilitated. Honey Bee Network is a Knowledge Centre/Network which pools the solutions developed by people across the world in different sectors and links, not just the people, but also the formal and informal scientists, policy makers, innovators, green entrepreneurs and educationists and makes them available to others after taking relevant consent and due diligence.
The Honey Bee Network tries to:
- Provide a peer group of farmers, artisans, scientists, academics across language, culture and regional boundaries to nurture, critique and encourage innovative experimentation.
- Break the nexus between the regions of high biodiversity and high poverty endowed with poor public as well as private infrastructure.
- Provide access to information that can help improve productivity without increasing cost using other farmers’ innovations. Most of the grassroots innovators do not have access to relevant information, which cripples their ability to raise resources and explore opportunities in different markets. Thus, poor demand for ecological and technological skills as well as their eco-friendly products forces them to become “unskilled labourer” in the urban houses and markets.
- Galvanize existing institutions and community structures to inspire and sustain the curiosity and spirit of younger generation to pursue the path of experimentation and excellence in local eco-enterprises and natural resource management.
- Resolve an ethical dilemma about sharing and protecting traditional as well as contemporary knowledge of individuals and communities evolved through conscious efforts but guided by different value systems without keeping people poor. The fact that we have not found many young healers indicates that younger generation does not find the career of healer or herbalist worth pursuing when it entails a life of penury though with a lot of goodwill in the community.
- Generate a system for rewarding and providing incentives to the innovative individuals as well communities under the provision of several international and national agreements like Convention on Biological Diversity (Art 8(J)), International Convention to Combat Desertification (Art 16), etc.
SRISTI has succeeded on various fronts in addressing many challenges described above. We acknowledge the support provided by various agencies like SDC [Swiss Development Cooperation] (1981- 1990), IDRC [International Development Research Center] Canada, Pew Conservation Scholar Programme (award to Professor Gupta), Swedish Society for Nature and Conservation, MacArthur Foundation, University of Gothenburg, The Food and Agriculture Organization/Forests, Tree and People [FAO /FTPP] Programme and Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP [The United Nations Development Programme], NISSAT [The National Information System for Science & Technology], UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund], BIRAC, our innovators, collaborators and volunteers. However, we strongly feel that the real indicator of success will be when these activities can be sustained on their own through collective efforts of local innovators, investors and entrepreneurs in the near future. We are very much conscious of the need to transform these activities from the “project mode” to a “self-sustained polycentric Gandhian movement”.