Innovation on Wheels

It is said that by the year 2020, India will have the largest labor force in the world. It is also said that the average age of this labor will be less than 30 years. If statistics are anything, to go by the reigns of our country certainly seem to be in the hands of youth.

The Indian economy itself is at a crossroads where on one hand it breathes the air of an increasingly skewed urban predilection, its rural forces twist its head another way. In keeping with this stipulation a unique movement of social entrepreneurship is taking shape in the heartland of India.

It is in pursuit of this India that individuals and institutions have been working to instill a spirit of social entrepreneurship, indeed to create a whole ecosystem around it. One such initiative is the Tata Jagriti Yatra – a collaborative endeavor of the Tata group and the Jagriti Sewa Sansthan.

India’s demography represents a diamond rather than the proverbial pyramid. While the bottom of this diamond is the below $1 a day income 350 million population the top constitutes a mere 250 million above $3 a day income group. It is the middle of this diamond – a staggering 500 million Indians who, while no longer are destitute still lack the means to earn a living.

While one might argue bout the feasibility of instilling entrepreneurial values where none exist, the yatra itself uses an innovative process.

It might not be possible always to teach entrepreneurship but one can inspire it in people by taking them to those who have done it. The youth of today are optimistic about India’s growth. All they need is the exposure to good role models.

Thus this 18 day national odyssey takes these youth from across 9,000 kilometers through the length and breadth of the nation, albeit with a common entrepreneurial vision on an introspective voyage introducing them to individuals and institutions developing unique solutions to India’s challenges. The key to this learning, which is a major axis of the yatra is to be able to relate not only to the original idea that gave shape to their enterprise but their courage as they kept going against enormous odds.

While the first Yatra was held way back in 1997, it wasn’t until 2007, a decade later that some ideas converged to turn it into an annual affair. One of them was the feedback for the book India.

We wanted to do something on a national canvas. It could not be a Gujarat yatra or a UP yatra or a Tamil Nadu yatra, India’s problems cannot be solved by a handful of people and it had to have mass involvement .

Indeed, the participants and the facilitators of the Yatra represent the diversity of India, with a strong representation from the smaller towns and rural areas of the country and an increasing interest from women participating as well. While 2007 Yatra saw some 9000 applications we have already received 17000 applications so far and are expecting a lot more through out the journey through a healing civilization a documented reference of the first Yatra by Mani from his own experience and those of the other yatris the last week.

The numbers are significant as they are a direct indication of high level of optimism in the youth towards the nation’s progress and their contribution towards the same. The same enthusiasm is reflected in the setting up of enterprises by participants of the Yatra – a good 24-25 ventures are already operational as a direct consequence of the influence of the Yatra and many more are in the proc Journey through a healing civilization a documented reference of the first Yatra by Mani from his own experience and those of the other yatris of being setup.

From a toy factory set up by ex-mechanical engineer to a creative educational services firm by a software consultant – the stories are not only inspirational but also reflective of the Yatra’s success.

Yet, the team informs that the main objectives of the Yatra is not necessarily anything tangible.

There are five key principles guiding the Yatra; Outer Journey, Inner Journey Innovation Collaboration and Transformation. It is the process of learning discovering India, understanding your inner self, ideation and perseverance teamwork and a transformed attitude that we want to instill in the youth. With age, people become more capital cynical and rigid in their ideas. Young people are more idealistic. They want to change the nation and believe that they can. It is this spirit that we want to capture.

A prospective Yatri should:

1) Believe in India’s past but wish to focus on the future.
2) Not mind being confined to a train for 18 days with a group of people very much like them yet very different. It shakes you up and gets you out of your comfort zone, which is not possible in a seminar or a conference.
3) Has the get up and go quality.
4) Wants to have fun building India and leading its progress; through enterprise led development.

Source: Education Times