Government needs to do more to promote innovation: NIF

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Raj Kumar SharmaNew Delhi, Feb 27 (PTI) Contending that innovation isthe only way to sustain India''s growth, the NationalInnovation Foundation says the government is not doing enoughto promote innovations in local creativity, especially inunderdeveloped areas.

"We have realized a considerable degree of neglect andindifference by the state as well as market forces forunleashing the local creativity and innovation. Generally, thestate''s response has been lukewarm towards supporting localinitiatives in underdeveloped areas like Champaran, Bastar,Cherrapunji and Arku Valley," says Prof Anil Gupta, ViceChairman, National Innovation Foundation (NIF).

"In some of the regions, the police, untrained as itis, to deal with civil society and its heterogeneity, paintsthe local communities with the same colour. The articulatelocal youth is seldom allowed to take leadership against theapathy and indifference of the institutions. By victimizingthem, some are pushed into insurgency and some either migrateout or become quiet," he says.

NIF was established in 2000 by the Department ofScience and Technology with the main goal of providinginstitutional support in scouting, spawning, sustaining andscaling up grassroots innovations and helping their transitionto self supporting activities.

"We have a culture that dubs innovation as craziness,but our success will be in identifying as many crazy people aswe can so that this revolution can spread across India," saysGupta.

He sees the relationship between innovation and thepresent educational system in India as counter productive, onewhich reinforces conformity and compliance at all levels.

"When students come out with creative ideas, mostteachers and even parents discourage lateral or tangentialthinking. If you look at the text books in schools orcolleges, you will rarely find any reference to contemporaryinnovations in formal or informal sector. The question ofinviting innovators to the class does not arise," he says.

"Without dissent and diversity, how can creativity andinnovation blossom. Therefore, it is very important to changethe mindset of bureaucracy and political leadership towardssuch areas," he adds.

From a scooter-powered flour mill, low-cost solutionfor sewage treatment, amphibious cycle to a clay fridge thatneed no electricity, NIF has more than 140,000 ideas,innovations and traditional knowledge practices from school orcollege dropouts and some even from arts graduates. Barring afew thousand ideas from children in cities as well, most ideasare from rural areas. .

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