Prof Catherine Odora Hoppers, incumbent of the DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Development Education, has returned from India after being part of the 2016 Festival of Innovation, which focused on inclusive innovations. Organised by the Office of the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, who was also in attendance, discussions took place at his palace in Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.
The initiative comprised leading thinkers from India and the Indian diaspora, ministers, and bankers, creating an ecosystem of thinkers and doers that had not been seen before. They were joined by 25 international innovators representing 14 countries.
The themes for the festival included:
The inclusive innovation agenda has been on India’s mind for some time and has been supported by recent successive presidents, starting with former president Dr Abdul Kalam. The National Innovation Foundation (NIF) in India manages this initiative countrywide.
Hoppers was the deputy group leader on the topic of social innovations for large-scale change, and was also a discussant of inclusive innovation incubation and acceleration models for innovative start-ups. “By elevating grassroots innovations, the president captured the lived realities and experiences of those long triaged from the arena of citizenship for so long. And for some of us—I mean ‘us’ as witnesses, who came to share our various experiences—it was amazing being part of the reinvention of justice,” said Hoppers.
It was a historic gathering which raised the bar for thinking about inclusive innovations, particularly in the south, where there is both an ethical and a pragmatic imperative to adopt a different way of thinking about and carrying out innovation.
Capturing the inputs made by Hoppers, Prof John Webb from the University of Melbourne said: “Very thoughtful and incisive comments, Catherine, you made to the global round-table discussions at the President’s Palace, New Delhi. Indeed, you were our conscience and Gandhian reminder to not lose sight of the goal of making the lives of the poor easier and more fulfilling. So, thank you very much for that.”
*Submitted by Catherine Odora Hoppers