Camel Bus – Social Innovation for desert transportation

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Camel Bus – Social Innovation for desert transportation

By Somali K Chakrabarti

 

“Innovation opens up new vistas of knowledge and new dimensions to our imagination to make everyday life more meaningful and richer in depth and content.”

~ Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

While most people know about camel rides in the deserts of Rajasthan, not many would have heard about a bus that it is driven by a camel.

The idea of the camel driven bus was conceived by a school teacher late Radhey Shyam Mishra , as a means of safely transporting students to and from school through the desert.  His friend, Mewaram Jangid, who was a skilled carpenter developed the bus in 1972, which provided an affordable solution for mass transportation in rural desert areas.

Camel Bus, Rajasthan

Seven such buses are still used to transport over 400 students to Bhanwarlal Kala Bal Mandir School in Churu, Rajasthan. According to the school principal, the school has developed a distinct identity because of the Camel bus and other schools in the area have also followed suit. Buses currently used by the school are still based on the same design.

The Camel Bus is a simple, affordable, and efficient local solution social innovation developed by creative individuals for solving a local problem.

The Center of social Innovation, Stanford Business School defines Social Innovation as:

A social innovation is a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than current solutions. The value created accrues primarily to society rather than to private individuals.

Many times, these innovations from the informal sectors of our country remain localized. As such, their potential growth gets constrained, and the benefits are confined to a small section. To overcome this challenge and support the social change agents, volunteers of Honey Bee Network scout, spawn and sustain such frugal innovations at the grassroots level.

This instance of social innovation was spotted by the Honey Bee Network, and it was appreciated in National Innovation Forum, a body which works towards promoting creativity and social innovations at grassroots.

More examples of grassroots innovation are given in the post Frugal Innovation – bringing Grassroots creativity to the Global stage.

In the words of Dr. R.A. Mashelkar, Chairperson, Governing Council National Innovation Foundation, Ahmedabad

“The purpose of innovation is to create a new value for an individual, team, organization or for society at large.” 

 

References and Image credit:

  1. National Innovation Foundation, Rajasthan Innovates

 

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Hydro~Jal Plus – Perfect Water for Perfect Health

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By Somali K Chakrabarti

Drinking water is like washing out your insides. The water will cleanse the system, fill you up, decrease your caloric load and improve the function of all your tissues.  Kevin R. Stone

Water

In the sweltering heat of summer when you feel unnecessarily tired, irritated and lack the motivation or enthusiasm to do anything, it helps to remind yourself, time and again, how important it is to drink sufficient amount of water.

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Frugal Innovation – bringing Grassroot creativity to the Global stage

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By Somali K Chakrabarti

 

Frugal innovation is about creating advantage out of constraint.

~ Kirsten Bound, Head International Innovation Research, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta).

 

The ‘Grassroot to Global’ (G2G) approach for innovation, propagated by National Innovation Foundation (NIF) of India, is set to change the way the world looks at the creativity and innovations at grassroots.

It subscribes to the concept of ‘frugal innovation, which involves use of local resources to come up with affordable, functional products that provide value for money and good user experience. The G2G model is developed to take creativity and knowledge that exists at the grassroots level and transform it into valuable innovation for the global marketplace.

Connecting Grassroot to Global
Connecting Grassroot to Global

 

The origin of the term ‘frugal engineering is credited to Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance in 2006, who coined the term after he was impressed by the ability of Indian engineers’ to innovate cost-effectively and quickly under severe resource constraints.

With businesses wanting to “do more with less resources”, firms such as Renault-Nissan, Siemens, and Unilever have embraced the concept of frugal innovation.

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Why JUGAAD Innovation Is Smart but Not Sustainable

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By Somali K Chakrabarti

 

The use of ‘Jugaad Innovation’, as a management philosophy, has received much attention from business and academic community all over the world, particularly the west. Essentially an Indian phenomenon, Jugaad is seen as an approach through which people devise indigenous work-around methods to overcome constraints.

To the western world, Jugaad Innovation is projected as the use of frugal and flexible approach to innovation, used in emerging countries to bring about breakthrough growth. This concept as elucidated in the book ‘Jugaad Innovation’ by [Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, Simone Ahuja, Kevin Roberts] found huge popularity in many developed nations of the west and in Japan, where companies have incurred huge investments in R&D, with limited returns in the past few years.

Jugaad Innovation
Jugaad : Cost effective machine to roast corn.

 

The use of low cost innovative solutions finds universal appeal, particularly when businesses worldwide are reeling under the pressure of resource constraints.

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Six charts that show the state of Innovation in India

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Economists, academicians for long have recognized the role of innovation in a country’s economic growth. National innovative capacity is defined as the ability of a country – as both a political and economic entity – to produce and commercialize a flow of innovative technology over the long term.

As India takes on its path to economic recovery, the time is apt to look at the state of innovation in India, reflected in its R&D capability. Though the growth of R & D services has been consistently high at around 20% in the last few years, but India ranks low in its capacity for innovation as compared to developed nations as well as other BRICS nations. In the global gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) of US$ 1.6 trillion for 2014, India’s share is around 3%, which is around five times lower than that of China.

The Economic Survey Report of India 2013-2014 has highlighted the current state of R&D services in India. A look at the following charts reveals the determinants of India’s innovative capacity and the opportunities for improvement in this area.

Capacity for innovation

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-14 released by World Economic Forum in Sept 2013, India’s capacity for innovation has been lower than 3 of the other BRICS countries (Brazil, China, and South Africa).

Innovation Capacity
Data: Economic survey 2013-2014

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Invisible Innovation In India

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TurtleOver the past few decades, India has become a global hub for back office services and software development’. This has created a common belief in the west that people from developing countries such as India are generally good as software developers.

As Indians too, we often wonder that why as a country we have not been able to produce to produce world class innovations like a Google or an Apple so far. What is lacking in the country that holds back innovation?

Dr Nirmalya Kumar, Professor of Marketing and Dr Phanish Puranam, Professor of Strategy at the London Business School say that a part of the answer lies in how we look at innovation.

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