Professor Anil Gupta of Indian Institute of Management-Ahamedabd has traveled 4,000 kms on foot to collect traditional Indian knowledge and innovations prevailed among common people of the country.
Prof Gupta records such knowledge and innovations,get them patented and disseminate them.
Prof Gupta with his team of 35 members recently concluded his week-long ‘shod yatra’ (inquisitive tour) in the Maxal dominated regions of Chattisgarh,where the state administrations fear to venture. This was the 25th such ‘Sodh Yatra’ taken out by Gupta since 1998.
Gupta and his team members went to find out traditional knowledge of tribals of the Chattisgarh. They started their tour from Brehda village to Mehka in Narayanpur district of the state.
“Our traditional knowledge acquired through centuries by our forefathers,which is very rich,has been withering away. What we also noticed was our grassroots innovators also required encouragement,” Gupta told PTI in an interview.
“Our common people may be poor but they are rich in knowledge. We established ‘Honey Bee Network’ in 1998 with an aim to tap this knowledge and spread it among other people who will also progress with the use of such knowledge and innovations,” Gupta said.
In ‘shod yatras’,Gupta along with his team travels for about 150 kms to 200 kms in seven days to eight days. Shodh Yatris (the tour members) meet the villagers,farmers,artisans and look for the oddball,that is,any body doing something differently and try to understand the logic behind it.
During the Shodh Yatra,they discover new methods of crop protection,cattle rearing and improved implements developed by villagers.
“Our aim during the ‘shodh yatras’ is to meet the people who solve their problems through their presence of mind and inborn ability. We compile and disseminate the knowledge acquired during the shod yatras,which is fast disappearing and establish a dialogue between the old generation and future generation,” Gupta said.
Farmers,though they may not have formal education,have developed tools and machines in their own ways to solve their problems,Gupta said about grassroots innovators. “We have taken out such yatras in Kashmir,Assam and Chattisgarh in adverse situation as the areas are infected with insurgency and Naxalism,” Gupta said.
“In our last yatra in Naxal-hit Chattisgarh we found many interesting things like the area is store houses of herbs as large number of herbs are found there which can be used as medicine. There were many locals with the knowledge of how to use these herbs,” Gupta said.
“After our seven days yatra we were called by top State administration for meeting in which the state chief secretary was present. We listed out what could be done for the development of this area to them,” he said.
Explaining how it started,Gupta said a workshop was held on March 29,1998 at Ahmedabad on the subject,”How to make interaction between experimenting farmers and scientists?” Then,under the project,’Management of Natural Resources,’ the suggestion to start ‘Sodh Yatra’ came in,Gupta said.
For this purpose,many farmers at the workshop gave different suggestions about how to conduct shodh yatra and finally it was decided to start such yatras on foot,he said.
Gupta was able to convince Department of Science and Technology to help establish the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) of India,on February 28,2000,with the main goal of providing institutional support in scouting,spawning,sustaining and scaling up grassroots green innovations and helping their transition to self supporting activities.
“Today we have an innovation database maintained by NIF which has record of thousands of innovations done by rural India in solving their problems,” Gupta said.
Gupta’s honey bee network has got 250 patents for indigenous grassroots innovations,out of which five innovations have got US patents.
Impressed by the work of the Gupta supported organisation,President Pratibha Patil had hosted grassroots innovation exhibition at the Rashtrapati Bhavan between March 11 and 14 of this year.