A step in social innovation

In order to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s holding of the competition on social innovation, the Economic Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs partnered with the Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, to organise a national contest on social innovation.

This was recently held as part of the overall activities for the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Bengaluru.

The contest was nationally announced on the www.mygov.in portal on November 18 and in 48 Indian dailies (including Hindi, English, Assamese, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati, Odiya and Malayalam languages).

The objective of the contest was to identify and showcase 20 of India’s most promising and socially relevant, and scalable innovations in the fields of cleantech, education, health, housing, public transport, skill development and livelihood, waste management and women empowerment.

The contest winners will offer the innovators a platform to not only showcase their innovations to the visiting ‘pravasis’, but also offer an opportunity for ‘pravasis’ to associate with the startup momentum in the country through fund support and mentorship.

Considering the strict application criterion, the response to the contest has been overwhelming, a total of 774 applications were received by the closing date of December 7, 2016.

All the winners were invited to Bengaluru to exhibit their innovations in a custom-designed and built ‘Start-Up Pavilion’.

Each of the 20 innovators were given a one-time fund support of Rs 1 lakh, a certificate of recognition and a memento. Innovators were also linked with mentors and angel investor networks within the diaspora community.

A coffee table book on social entrepreneurship in India, and the stories on the 20 innovators and their innovations was released on the occasion.

Jyoti Thyagarajan, founder trustee, Meghshala Trust, said, “This is an award for innovative solutions for social problems in India. I am delighted that we were
chosen and got a chance to take this out to many areas in India which need
innovative solutions for education.”

“We believe that education needs to make an immediate and sustained impact in the minds of individuals and the collective societies they live in. It must finally result in a powerful cohesive, inclusive process that grows by virtue of clear applications of learning and not just in learning facts,” she adds.

Meghshala is presently operational in over 100 schools and works with more than 300 teachers in Karnataka.

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