Lessons from the villages of Nagaland
Sachin Gaur is director operations at InnovatioCuris. He is interested in topics of mHealth and Cyber Security. Have deep expertise in digital marketing , mobile application development in domains like health and education. Have multiple patents granted.
Last November 2016, I got an opportunity to walk in the remote villages of Nagaland. The journey was organized by Prof Anil Gupta from IIM Ahmedabad, India. Prof Anil has been doing Shodh Yatra for last 19 years (a walk of approximately 150 kms to 200 kms to scout grass root innovators and cross-pollinate ideas). The hindi meaning of ‘Shodh’ is to research and ‘Yatra’ is journey. As, we in IC are constantly looking for inspiration and innovations, being part of the Shodh Yatra was an excellent opportunity to meet some innovators and see the country with a different point of view. A point of view which beliefs in the grassroot innovations, celebrating them and spreading them.
Essentially speaking the Yatra takes you through many small villages and in each village you repeat 4-5 activities. Celebrating the elders of the village and document the traditional learnings by asking questions. Organizing Idea and Bio Diversity competitions among young children and students. Also, engaging the village community and sharing innovations from other parts of the villages. One of the ways to put the experience of Shodh Yatra is in Prof Gupta’s word: “During the Yatra we can learn from four teachers: the teacher in nature, teachers within, teachers among peers and the teacher among common people”.
We met people who were 100 plus years old and villages of Nagaland were rich in biodiversity and very clean. All, my stereotypes were broken about remote and inaccessible parts of the country in a good way. The superiority of traditional knowledge in terms of knowing the medicinal use of plants by the communities was amazing. If such a task is taken up by communities to document traditional knowledge countrywide and further look at it through scientific methods. It can open up new avenues for the marginalized communities in terms of commercialization of traditional plants and medicine and also preserving the oral and tacit knowledge of the communities.
Most of us who live in cities have become distant from nature and the understanding of it. Such visits not just give you new eyes to look at what nature can offer us, but also the sense of community from the villagers, who are so giving in their nature. Some of them are constantly innovating and we need structures and methods to spread the good work.