With an objective to stay updated and share ideas among different stakeholders and encourage participation from them, IIM Indore established a Special Interest Group (SIG) on Frugal and Inclusive Innovation. The purpose of the group is to analyse the concept of ‘Frugal and Inclusive Innovation’ from various angles thereby setting a perfect stage for debate and discussions.
Under the same objective, a Guest Lecture by Professor Ramendra Singh, Faculty, IIM Calcutta was held at the Institute on March 11, 2016. Professor Singh spoke on the topic ‘Innovation at, and for the Bottom of the Pyramid’.
Professor Singh began his talk discussing about various innovations, which in India we call ‘Jugaad’. His talk revolved around various innovations which took place in Dharavi, their positive and negative aspects and the reasons behind their success and challenges faced by them.
Mentioning about Dharavi slums, he said that one needs to find easy and innovative ways which would help build a 300$ house for slum people so that they have facilities like mosquito net, water filter, tablet/pc connection etc. Discussing about Dharavi Ecosystem, he noted that Dharavi is Asia’s largest slum where more than 7 lakh people live in just 2.5 square kilometers area. The area has more than 2000+ business units, 85% people have access to TV and 21% have access to phones, hence an informal economy can be seen in this area.
Professor Singh then discussed about sanitary facilities in India. He said that there are 15 million dry toilets in India and 9 million are cleaned by human scavengers and rest by animals. He gave an example of Issac Durojaiye, Managing Director of DMT toilets in Nigeria, who created mobile toilets to be used by people in Lagos. ‘Issac noticed that even though 20 million people lived in Lagos, there were very few toilets which were creating health hazards. Today his mobile toilets are playing an important role there’, Professor Singh noted.
Discussing about Dabbawalas, Professor Singh mentioned that that literacy has nothing to do particularly with innovation, as the people involved with this aren’t particularly trained by anyone, yet their chain is one of the most efficient chain working across the city.
Similarly, mentioning about Barefoot College which was established in 1972 as an NGO, he suggested that age is also not related to innovation. The NGO provides facilities to the rural communities to get basic services like education, healthcare, water, rural handicrafts etc. Here people who are barely literate come with a hope and learn to innovate for self.
Professor Singh mentioned the four things which are required to make any innovation successful, namely; the product should be easily and physically accessible by the consumer, it should be available as per the demand, it should be affordable and information should be provided as to when and where one can find that product. ‘These four factors determine whether your innovation would be a success or not’, he said.
He concluded his talk by a video, Living Bridges of Meghalaya, which mentioned how a plant, ficus elastica, commonly known as Rubber Fig, is used to make bridges across the river for reaching the other side of the mountain since years. ‘These are a big attraction to the tourists nowadays, even though it was invented 500 years ago’, Professor Singh said.
The session concluded with a Q&A session. The talk was attended by faculty, staff and students of IIM Indore.