The Pune International Centre recently organized the Fourth National Conference on Social Innovation 2016 (NCSI) in Pune. Held under the aegis of the PIC, the National Innovation Foundation and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the NCSI event showcased a diverse range of innovations from across India. Three sessions were organized to categorize the diverse social innovations at the meet: Urban, Tribal and Rural Innovations. CSR representatives of some leading corporate houses expressed interest in taking forward some of these innovations presented during the meet.
Tribal Innovation – Preserving Native Crops
Innovator: Rahibai Soma Popere
Problem: Native crop varieties are not only drought and disease resistant, but also are nutritive and retain the soil fertility as they do not need chemical fertilizers and excessive water. Their nutrition value is much higher than hybrid varieties. Villagers were falling sick frequently after eating food prepared from hybrid crops. However, these native crop varieties are on the verge of extinction.
Solution: Inspired by her father, Rahibai Soma Popere started collecting local seeds with the help of other women from Akole Taluka in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. She observed that people from her village were falling sick frequently as their immunity levels had fallen after eating food prepared from hybrid crop varieties. She began encouraging other farmers to form seed banks of local crop varieties and formed an SHG named Kalsubai Parisar Biyaane Samvardhan Samiti.
Guided by BAIF Development Research Foundation for the past 10 years, Rahibai Popere has preserved wild food resources, including hyacinth bean varieties such as Kadu Wal and Goad Wal, paddy varieties such as Raibhog, Kolpi and Kalbhat. She has also conserved landraces of fruit and vegetables, which are drought and disease-resistant. She uses natural compost fertilizers. She has herself preserved 28 such seed varieties and has distributed around 3,000 seed packets in her area.
Similarly, Madhav Leakmi, Shankar Gawade and Vija Timma from Gadchiroli district are preserving threatened local variety of cat fish, Magur, with help from other tribal farmers. Exotic variety of cat fish is not only expensive, but threatens the local ecosystem and is less nutritive, feels Leakmi.
Rural Innovation – Jugaad Water Sprinkler
Innovator: Shivaji Navgire
Problem: Water conservation and retaining soil fertility has become essential for farming. We have witnessed consecutive droughts in the Marathwada region and elsewhere in India that have resulted in farmer suicides due to crop failure and debt burden. Osmanabad is one such drought-prone district Marathwada, where farmers needed to find a solution to their perennial water problem.
Solution: Shivaji Navgire developed an innovative sprinkle irrigation system using waste plastic water bottles, which are an environment hazard. Thus, his work is not only providing a cheap but sturdy water system to farmers but also preserving water and environment as well. His water sprinkler is easy to carry and maintain unlike a regular one. The jugaad sprinkler saves 60% cost, 50% time, 70% water and increases crop yield by almost 30%. Shivaji Navgire has set up an farmer’s cooperative Bhavani Shankar Agro Producer Company.
Rural Innovation – Jugaad Innovations
Innovator: Krishna Thiruvengadam
Problem: Rural youths have a lot of potential, but since they do not have jobs, they indulge in non-constructive activities and their talent goes waste. There is a drastic need to impart employable skills among rural youth. However, applied science and technology education in India is limited to experiments and toy making for kids. Focus is not on developing scientific skills among the Indian youth and enable them to find jobs.
Solution: Mechanical engineering graduate Krishna Thiruvengadam established d-Hive Rural Innovation Studio in Bhandara, Maharashtra to fostered self-reliant, participatory rural technology development. Krishna enabled rural children and youth to come up with simple ideas to solve complex issues using their innate observation and limited resources. The youth have better insights into resource availability as compared to external agents of change. Young social innovators from the district developed Jugaad solutions, which provided relief to rural women, who collect fuel wood and water and carry them on their heads for miles. Now, they have firewood carrier, pedal powered washing machine, hybrid smokeless chullah, etc. developed by schoolchildren to help ease their mothers’ taxing daily chores.
Rural Innovation – Low-cost Diagnostics
Innovator: Ravikrishnan Elangovan
Problem: Rural areas lack healthcare infrastructure, which makes it tough to detect infectious disease in rural setting. Bacterial infections that are detected using blood/stool culture diagnostics require a full-fledged laboratory and trained manpower. These facilities are only available at the district hospitals in the country. Hence, there was a need for affordable solution and automation in diagnostics to minimize use of trained manpower.
Solution: Ravikrishnan Elangovan from IIT-Delhi created an affordable and time-saving solution for microbial diagnostics in the rural setting for detecting bacterial infections. He developed a novel system named Immune Magnetic Cell Capture (iMC2) system to detect multiple bacterial infections, which is automated and can be taken to field. This device can be used at any primary health center. Ravikrishnan’s technology is unique as it combines hi-tech science such as nano magnetic particles and it is scalable to produce a large number of single use capture chips.
Urban Innovation – Composting Kit
Innovator: Dhanashree Chauhan | I Love Composting
Problem: Solid waste management has posed an enormous challenge for civic authorities in Indian cities. Pune-based school teacher Dhanashree Chauhan realized the gravity of the issue, while doing school projects with her students. Organic wet waste from kitchens becomes a pollutant, if thrown into landfills and rivers. Around 70% waste generated in cities is wet, while a meager 5% is turned into compost. The municipal corporation in Pune has made it mandatory for housing societies to set up composting pits. However, only 40% societies have functional compost units as per a survey conducted by NGO Janwani.
Solution: Dhanashree Chauhan developed a home composting unit called ‘The Bug Factory’, which she is promoting in schools, along with related study material. After she established “I Love Composting”, over 310 units have been sold across India. An export-ready composting unit has been designed, which is promoted by conducting training workshops for institutions, corporate houses, families in housing societies and most importantly for children in various schools. Today, I Love Composting regularly conduct awareness drives among joggers, senior citizens, yoga centers and Ganapati mandals in Pune.
Click here to know more about the NCSI-2016 conference