ARTICLES > RELEVANCE OF GANDHI > Social Innovation and Gandhian Model
Social Innovation and Gandhian Model
By Balamurali Balaji*
social-innovation-gandhian-modelThe world is fast moving towards the maximum consumption of technology and innovations as it discovers more and more innovative ideas, technological trends to spice up its life. Many scientists and entrepreneurs have already began to come up with their social innovations and technological solutions to deal with growing issues in and surrounding the today’s cities and business hub centers.
Social innovations are attempting to deal with the issues caused in the urban societies and infrastructures that were built by technological innovations. More and more people including the corporate are working towards the issues like health, pollution, and nature preservation etc., after letting the damage caused in societies. The future of the people and plant has surely been fallen into the magical works of Social innovation management techniques and solutions. From the Gandhian model of building a sustainable livelihood and environment, this is way too a unstable approach allowing at first every luxury in and out of our household, then crying foul out of the consequences and risks it may cause.
Infrastructural designers, planners and builders have a keen outlook on the usage of technological solutions in electrification, heating, cooling and other machinery setups that cause tremendous eco-damages and human-disorders. Social innovation processes and practices have succeeded lately to do the post-mortem and remove the hurdles that retard the progress of humanity. Gandhjii’s philosophy of natural living and simplicity has been completely sidelined in urban and semi-urban development planning.
The question now posing the world is that have we succumbed to the greedy world of technological gadgets and solutions in order to stay ahead in the race of economic progress. Another important aspect that needs to be considered is to check if social innovation management became a victim of such a greedy race. Serving for the better lives of people shall never be poisoned with the ongoing trend! One good example for such a catastrophe is “Social Media for Social Innovation”. Better education, health, nutritious food, and eco-friendly living conditions - all these alone could form the constituency of Social innovations. Any kind of advancement in managing or providing SI solutions that rely once again on technology would be fatal, and put the whole idea in loop.
Social Innovation is all about finding and curing the ailing societies. Constructive Programmes of Gandhiji were targeted towards the poor and villages. It was for the uplift of those who had not availed the basic needs. His ideas worked in synchronization with nature and eco-system. Many Social innovation programs conducted in villages have proven failure with the lack of support and cooperation from the locals and farmers. Due to the wider publicity and cheaper means of access to technological gadgets and trends, people doubtfully listen to such programs. One SI educational program pulled only a five youth in a village. Health plans get even lesser attention.
In addition to SI skills and management, Information and Communication technology tools have come in support to fight against Ebola, a deadly virus that killed around 100,000 people in African countries. SI solutions must have a vigil on such situations where technology has been used to counter drastic conditions and emergency disasters. It must be advised to use low-end technologies, if possible, no technologies at all. Infrastructural setups require to combat such emergencies are not of technology type, but with compassionate humanity.
Hence in India, Social Innovation is in its infancy right now. As many entrepreneurs turn social, as many innovations work towards the Social causes, Social Change is inevitable. It doesn’t require a monumental effort to see a magnanimous change. A small change could lighten the dark shades of the society.
“It stands for synthesis of the different cultures that have come to stay in India, that have influenced Indian life, and that, in their turn, have themselves been influenced by the spirit of the soil.” - Mahatma Gandhi.
This new culture of Social Innovation needs to undergo a synthesis of Indian nature with a Swadeshi touch, what Gandhji was pointing out. If this culture allows fancy style and pattern of functioning for the benefit of achieving quicker finances and forging pseudo-alliances, as he said, one dominant force would absorb the rest creating an artificial and forced unity leaving no harmony amongst the stakeholders.

Balamurali Balaji is a Founder-Director of CIT-GPNP(Techno Gandhian Center). Email: bbmurali_2000@yahoo.com