Government of India has declared 2010-2020 as the ‘decade of innovation’, with a focus on inclusive growth. Within this framework, Pune International Centre (PIC) collaborated with National Innovation Foundation (NIF), Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, International Longevity Centre-India (ILC-I) and Honey Bee Network to organise a unique national seminar on ‘Social Innovation’ to explore the myriad forms of grass-root social innovations in the nooks and corners of India and deliberate on the way forward.

In India we have great minds and an abundance of social ideas, but we lag in supporting them. Dr. RA Mashelkar, Chairperson of National Innovation Foundation (NIF) stressed precisely this when he stated that India was at such a critical juncture that social innovation was going to be a determinant. “We have ideas,” he said, “but executing them with speed, scale and sustainability is important’’. This was followed by a special talk by Prof. Anil Gupta from IIM, Ahemdabad. In his view, “We need to revive the hopes of millions that seem to have dampened by widespread inertia’’

The seminar was divided into four sessions: Sehejta, an ecosystem for supporting social innovation; Samvedna, emphathetic models of social innovation; Saralata, understanding, analyzing and assimilating social innovation and Sampreshan, discussion on the agenda ahead for national initiatives .

In the seminar an eclectic mix of around 70 innovators from different parts of India came together under PIC’s umbrella to discuss the various technologies they had developed which would bring improvement in the areas of agriculture, rural and urban development. Honey Bee network also announced that it would host a national initiative supported by NIF to provide a Samvedansheel (sensitive, empathetic) sanctuary for social innovations.

The response to the seminar was overwhelming and encouraging. Panel discussions saw the participation of veterans such as Magsaysay award winner and the ‘Waterman of India’ Dr. Rajendra Singh, Mr. Devendra Raj Mehta who introduced the ‘Jaipur Prosthetic’ and Dr. Narendra Jadhav, Member of the National Planning Commission.