Sowing the seeds of development

By Prof. Anil K. Gupta

If we had our way, we would all live in a yesterday land and not just any ‘yesterday’ but the one that we like the most. However, the Sankranti/Pongal festival tells us that there is no season which stays forever. Thank God that it does not. Will life be beautiful any longer if there were no uncertainty? If I knew what is in store tomorrow, will I look forward to that with hope and if possible, some faith?

Let me twist this argument a bit. Many times, when we meet people who have enormous hope, a great deal of zest and an appetite for uncertainty and adventure, we find them highly tolerant of ambiguity. They would not be able to do what they do if they insisted on full clarity on starting anything new. Can I hope that in the coming year, all of us will take initiatives about the matters we feel very strongly about with hazy horizons or intimidating uncertainty?

Change is the only constant

But most of those who matter at the highest levels are generally unaware about them.

There are so many grassroots innovators in education, farming and small industry who do this with gusto. Thus, they are able to make a lasting impact on their environment, no matter how small or scattered. But most of those who matter at the highest levels are generally unaware about them.

While talking about Smart Villages at Vibrant, I appealed to the Hon’ble Minister of rural development, secretary and other colleagues in the government to have at least one lunch with the grassroots achievers in their domain every month. They will hopefully learn how to take risks and to convert initiatives into innovations without insisting on complete clarity of assurance about the outcome. They will also begin to appreciate the goodness in the less powerful and less privileged.

A corporate leader listening to my talk came to me afterward and suggested:

[su_quote]Please ask each one of us to have one lunch a month with achievers in our own organizations. Why only public servants and politicians?[/su_quote]

Isn’t this advice applicable to us as well? I had made this appeal some years ago to the then Chief Minister. I am convinced that if we want to harness tremendous positive energy for social change, we should learn to celebrate the self-triggered or anti-poetic efforts by the common people.

Grassroots ‘innovision’

I also suggested that they should take the resources, skills and ideas in which villages are rich as the point of departure. By definition, this approach makes us humble. As we listen, learn and leverage ideas of others, our credit then lies in becoming Jamwant. Hanuman did not know his power – it was Jamwant who pointed it out. Can each public policy functionary assume the role of Jamwant and help bring out the goodness in others at the community level?

Another suggestion I made was that we should map underutilised or unused resources in each village and then blend formal technologies with informal knowledge systems and create grass root start-ups.

I wondered why, when we think of urban youth, we talk about start-ups but when we discuss the rural development, we only think about skill development! As if the youth in rural areas cannot set up innovation-based start-ups!

Now that seasons are changing, shall we learn to change our attitude towards social transformation as well? We should prioritize giving all youths the opportunity to set up ventures, companies and other enterprises. Let us hope next Sankranti will be a day of celebration with the dreams of the rural youth flying high with kites of their achievements in the blue sky.

Prof. Anil K. Gupta is the founder of the Honey Bee Network. He also teaches at the Indian Institute of Management, Vastrapur.
Featured Image Credits: Living to tell a tale
[su_note note_color=”#d2eaf6″]Fresh insights delivered to your phone each morning. Download our Android App today![/su_note]