Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tribute to unsung innovators

Tribute to unsung innovators

Wednesday, 14 Dec 2011 at 11:44

A fascinating read for generalists and an inspiration for budding innovators, the book is sure to motivate all people

Book: Unsung Innovators of Kashmir
Author: Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad
Publisher: Gulshan Books, Srinagar
Ahmad, Shiekh Fayaz (2011) Unsung Innovators of Kashmir Gulshan Books, Kashmir,
(82 Pages, Price-495, ISBN- 978-81-8339-120-7)

“Political turmoil of past couple of decades in Kashmir has affected more or less every sphere of life in the valley…Obviously such a politically hyperactive situation wouldn’t have come about without the bearing on the psychodynamics that regulate the power of creativity…but facing enormous odds some unsung innovators from the informal sector continue to thrive and create new things.”
This is what Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad latest book says; peace is essential for innovation-ecosystem but even in the midst of situations which were psychologically dreadful there were innovations brought up by the unsung and un-aided grassroots innovators of Kashmir. Indeed, this book is a tribute to the unsung innovators of Kashmir whose innovations went unacknowledged and unappreciated; it is a compilation of twenty interviews (it has been narrated like a story) of the grassroots innovators by Shiekh Fayaz which were garnered through a period of three years.
Imagine a world where polythene is degradable, where painting is stroked by an electronic brush and solar inverter is used for home appliances, yes, they could have sounded more like a scene from a sci-fi novel some decades ago but Kashmir has given birth to such innovations, and it will not be fair if innovators of such innovations go unsung. The author has well represented through his collection the aspiration as well as the hardship which the innovators are/were facing in promoting their product; he has unambiguously triggered the readers to appreciate the works of the innovators. From the series of interviews, we get a picture that the intrinsic motivation of innovators is to solve a problem without thinking of market capitalization for their innovations. With good brilliance, the author engages the readers in the final debate which is about the future of education in Kashmir. On a personal note, this book is like a catalogue of inspiring stories, one of such is that of Shiekh Sajad who innovated ‘Iron Cutter’, hailing from a poor family he invested everything on his research project, the benefit of which he is yet to see.
As content the book covers the exclusive interview with the former President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Fayaz poses the question as to what he thinks is the scope of grassroots innovations in our country? to this Dr. Kalam replies,“I was astonished to see a farmer somewhere in one corner of the country using the organic material -can produce 6-7 tons of Rice like any other non-organic material but he has shown that using the organic farming and the organic cultivation we can get the equal production in any field. Similarly an innovator from Kashmir has simplified the pole climbing.” (Page- 60)
For a student and scholar of innovation studies, this book provide evidences that can serve as a seed for further discussion as it opens up debate about the innovations occurring in formal and informal setups; as it is understood that formal sector innovations has failed to provide solutions to the problems at grassroots level and such innovations are ray of hope for these communities. On the other hand for its journalistic notes this book is a fascinating read for the generalist. This book may inspire budding innovators and entrepreneurs not to be deterred by the hardship of life. If you think that walnut is a tough nut to crack then this is the book for you.
(The writer is a Research Scholar, Center for Studies in Science Policy, JNU, New Delhi)

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