Deepmala 25 – University Education & Non-Formal Innovation

I have often spoken about building the bridge between the formal and informal systems of innovation including the traditional knowledge, which has been built over several centuries. How do we integrate the two? Can, we begin by getting our young students interested in these endeavours. The answer is, yes, we can.

Take, for instance, the issue of preserving the traditional knowledge system of our farmers, artisans, grass-root innovators, be they in villages, in tribes or in remote areas. It is these innovations, which have improved their quality of life. We need to create a national register of such innovations. We can make our young students participate in this exciting endeavour. We can use part of their time during their holidays. We can send them to villages and tribes. Let them have a look at the local innovations, be they of a plant- based extract to cure a disease, or an improved method of sowing the seeds, or an innovative way of carrying the water. The inquiring mind of the youth could explore the underpinning innovation processes, which will enrich their own lives in turn. Further, it will also reduce the erosion of such knowledge, which is taking place at such a devastating pace.

Such a simple movement will do several things at the same time. The nation will have a repository of such innovations, which could be catalogued and utilized across the country. More important, it will expose our young students to the areas in villages and tribes that they have never visited before. They will see a different way of life. They will see how people innovate to survive. They will know that experiments are not done necessarily in only formal laboratories with sophisticated equipment and computers but they are also done in a hut, in the field, on the road, and so on. This will be the beginning of a new social contract between the young and that part of the society that they never knew anything about.