Welcome Speech by Dr. R. A. Mashelkar at 6th Award Function

09-03-2012    Dr R A Mashelkar

 Hon’ble President of India, Hon’ble Minister Shri Jairam Ramesh, Prof.Anil Gupta, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentle men,

Let me extend to you all a very warm welcome on the 6th presidential Biennial award function of grassroots innovations and outstanding traditional knowledge. This is the first time in our history that the grassroots innovations award function is being held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. This is a unique privilege and great honour for the creative communities of India and we thank the Hon’ble president for sending a strong signal to the Indian people at large about the importance she places on these unsung heroes, the knowledge rich, but economically poor people and their creations. And mind you, these creations are not done in sophisticated laboratories, but they are done in the laboratories of life, in their homes, in their fields, and this morning we will be saluting the winners of the awards, we are very proud to say that the Hon’ble President is the only head of the state around the world who has championed the grassroots innovations by holding a national exhibition in president’s house. The compassion of our President and the commitment was clear to us when she held had a whole day meet just a few days ago to address the challenges faced by rain fed farming and dry land farming. It was wonderful to see the Prime minister himself, the finance minister, the minister of agriculture, several governors, chief ministers present in this meet and one of the most remarkable was our Hon’ble President’s commitment because she sat through the entire day of this meet listening very intently and thoughtfully. I must say Hon’ble President keeps on challenging us. She is concerned personally that a country which can put a woman as the head of the state has not been able to address somehow the problems that millions of our woman face today. So with her inspiration and guidance, we are announcing today the gandhian inclusive innovation challenge awards.

Through this award, we challenge the innovators in informal and formal sector to offer solutions to the three challenges that have been posed by National Innovation Foundation, all concerned with the drudgery that the women of India especially the resource poor women of India have. About the first, the first is transplanting the paddy by women. As you know close to ninety five per cent of paddy transplantation is done by women bending their backs for hours together and we have watched this happen with helplessness. We don’t want that to happen anymore and we want innovative solutions. Number two-plucking of the tea buds from the bushes and putting them to the basket on the back. You can imagine such movement taking place 1000 times a day with these poor women. And the last one - the third one is wood based cooking stove with the highest efficiency and with least emissions. Here we are reaching the limits of the energy density, lithium ion batteries with science advancing and why should we be content with 40 per cent combustion efficiency in these woods. And this award will be rupees ten lakh for the best selected design, five and two and a half lakh for second and third. And mind you these match with the best technology awards that are being given so this tells us about their importance.

Finally, I would like to just say that National Innovation Foundation believes that these ideas inspired by our most revered president are game changers in terms of the value of innovation, value from an innovation that compassionate India wants to signal namely the objective of innovation is not to reduce the pain and improve the quality of life of some Indians but ALL INDIANS AND ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS. In our Hon’ble President’s address to the parliament, she proposed the idea of the decade of 2011-20 as the Indian decade of innovation and our Hon’ble Prime Minister announced this formally.

So Ladies and gentle men, this is the Indian Decade of Innovation and I hope National Innovation Foundation in its own humble way try to enhance the message that 1.2 billion Indians do not just represent 1.2 billion mouths but they represent 1.2 billion creative and innovative minds. Thank you very much.