A Journey worth walking for thousand times A Story of Palle Srujana

 
 

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The Beginning

Palle Srujana - two Telugu words - means Creativity of the villages. A small group aged above 56 gathered on 20 November 2005 at Hyderabad to form an organization to pursue the mission of NIF as part of Nationwide Honeybee network. Inspiration came from the interactions Brig Ganesham, while serving in the Army had with DR R A Mashelkar and Prof Anil Gupta from 2003-5. It had its baby steps and unstable walk for the first few years. Constant support from National Innovation Foundation (NIF) and affectionate guidance from Prof Anil K Gupta kept us moving. PCK Sharma, an eminent industrial Engineer joined us initially and later the group got enriched by J Durga Prasad, Srikar and Sesi Mohan. During 2015, Prof K L Chugh joined us to make the core team more committed to the cause of grassroots. Raghava Reddy has been with Palle Srujana since beginning as a volunteer, joint editor and bringing the farmers’ perspective into our discussions and planning, being a farmer himself.

As we rolled on, innovators were scouted, more volunteers joined, received President of India awards for Innovators, patents were awarded to the innovations and masses accepted these innovations. Govt and private organizations started to realize the existence of a grassroots creativity movement in undivided Andhra Pradesh. In 2011, media decided to run Palle Srujana story on the cover page of Sunday edition of a highly popular Telugu daily – Eenadu. It was watershed point. We got connected to lakhs of Telugu people. More volunteers joined, new innovators scouted, and their innovations got more visibility across the state.

Magazine
There is always a need for disseminating the collected knowledge to the beneficiaries. With a view to provide the collected knowledge to the Telugu people, “Palle Srujana” magazine was launched in May 2006. Though the first magazine was named “Honeybee”, on the advice of Prof Gupta to select an alternate name, we deliberated and named it “Palle Srujana”. It was published once in a quarter till 2011 and thereafter, once in two months. No sponsors and advertisements are accepted. Entire effort is voluntary and the subscriptions take care of the cost of printing and postage. 11 years of uninterrupted publication had been was possible due to the dedicated efforts of many volunteers led by Mr Sesi Mohan and Mr Raghava Reddy. All old magazines can be read freely on our website www.pallesrujana.org Present circulation is just over 2000 copies while the peak was close to 4000 during 2014-15. The magazine has reached over 4000 villages so far in Telugu states

Asu Family
Laxmi Asu machine- an innovation of Chinthakindi Mallesham was an outstanding grassroots innovation which made a great impact on the weaver families of the Pochampalli sari industry. With a view to bring the asu beneficiaries together, ASU Family was formed in 2009 informally and met every second month for a day and ate lunch together in Mallesham’s house. This was a rare group which learned from each other and together grew substantially in two years. The family included the contributors to the asu machine (worldwide), beneficiary weaver families, and coordinators of Palle Srujana. Mallesham provided the leadership and many initiatives such as supply of silk thread, providing new designs, selling saris as group etc were undertaken with varying degree of success and support from all the members of the family.  It was a big family consisting of 38 weaver families coming together and sharing and learning everything from each other.    

Creative Minds
With the coming in of Shri Durga Prasad – an eminent businessman, Palle Srujana extended its scope to marketing of innovations scouted from Telugu states. With his business acumen, a Commercial outfit “Creative Minds” was formed as Partnership Company to be made into an innovator shareholding company subsequently. A new model was evolved over the years based on collaboration wherein the financial burden is distributed among the Innovator/manufacturer,  customer and the coordinator (Marketing). Benefit sharing by the Innovators has been voluntary and we are pleased to state that it is coming through. The recent Honeybee Network meeting held on 30 May 17 at Secunderabad was an example of such benefit sharing by the innovators/volunteers.

 

Home for Tribal Girls
Pratyusha Girls Home at Araku valley, Dist Visakhapatnam, provides a dignified life to the parentless primitive tribal girls drawn from the agency area of Andhra Pradesh. It is purely run with the benevolence of friends whom we know but living across the world. From very small contribution to as big as an acre of land was given by noble people for the girls sake. We constructed a home for them in a picturesque location. Girls were lucky as a big donor came forward recently to support them with substantial fund for some time to come. While it made us happy, withdrawal of small donors with whose help all these days the home was running was painful. This was a heart break to us.  Some of them returned back to supporting the home after a lot of heart to heart conversations on phone. A strange way- Big friends are welcome but not at the cost smaller ones!!!

Chinna Shodha Yatra
Bitten by the high impact of Shodh Yatra conceived by Prof Gupta and organized by SRISTI every six months across the country for the lasttwo decades, Palle Srujana started a ‘Chinna Shodha yatra” ( A smaller Shodha yatra) in undivided Andhra Pradesh for the Telugu people to participate and learn from four gurus. It is small in terms of duration, restricted to three days but not small in the spirit as that of ‘Shodh Yatra”. 23 Chinna Shodha Yatras have been successfully organized by Palle Srujana in all the districts of Telangana and AP since 2011.

The first Chinna shodha yatra was only for two days with a participation of 12. Its aim was to trace the HT lines laid by electricity department over villages and the potential dangers thereof. The requirement emerged  from an incident wherein one of our innovators daughter lost her left hand due to short circuit from a HT line going over a house in her village. We mapped the data for over 35 kilometers. During these yatras we found many innovators, disseminated many innovations from across the country and  participation included Scientists, professors, school teachers , students , college students, Industrialists, farmers, Govt officials, women girls, boys, farmers, village youth etc. Over 650 participants walked over 1100 kms. They carry innovations and demonstrate them in the villages. Volunteers take it forward by following up with villages subsequent to the yatra.  

Gyan Shodh
There was a demand from volunteers and Chinna shodh yatries that  we stay and focus in one village to comprehend their problems. Accordingly “Gyan Shodh” was evolved which allows the volunteers to stay in a village for 2-3 days. This group of volunteers would interact with the villagers to pursue an objective for which the particular Gyan shodh is designed. Seven such Gyan Shdhs were conducted from 2010 onwards on various issues and at various locations. Most recent one was to understand the village, and the aspirations of its inhabitants by a group of 24 volunteers for 3 days and two nights. The outcome was highly revealing.

Social Internships
While Palle Srujana focused on scouting and dissemination of grassroots innovations and knowledge, a big disconnect was noticed between the knowledge holders and the needs of the society and the academia which is nurturing the future role players. More and more innovators we visit, more and more Chinna shodha yatras we conduct, the gap was becoming more visible. Palle Srujana offered to organize Social Internships for college students with a larger aim of bridging the aforesaid gap. The internship involved, visiting villages to document problems, and innovations, visit Innovators , document technological ideas or traditional knowledge, translate web pages from NIF web site into Telugu, participate in chinna shodha yatra, translate stories from Palle Srujana into English, capture creative ideas from school children by visiting schools, scrutinize the ideas of school children, write impressions on all the above activity, prepare a Internee report and make a presentation on the entire internship at the end of 15 days. Over 150 internships conducted so far which included IIT, NIT, IIM, many local engineering and management Institutions, Japanese, Foreigners, and social sector professionals. The impact is huge. One internee felt that he is getting more respect at home after the internship. Girls felt that their mothers  were eager to know what happened each day in the internship as they pursued learning about society through their children. The trend of youth joining for internship is encouraging.

Innovation Diffusion centre

Over the years Palle Srujana scouted and documented many innovations from Telugu states. Many innovations Documented by NIF are relevant to the people of this region but they have no opportunity to see them and feel their performance. Palle Srujana proposed an “Innovation Diffusion Centre (IDC)” to NIF during 2013 and thanks to NIF, an IDC was established in August 2013 at Secunderabad. Over five thousand people visited IDC in the last four years which include, school children, scientists, Govt officials, Bureaucrats, Teacher, college students and their faculty, farmers, women, doctors, parents, social workers, change makers, innovators, executives from industry, and even the women delegation from to the World Women Forum.  IDC provides an opportunity to physically observe the grassroots innovations, discuss problems, read 54 Palle Srujana issues since 2006, issues of Honeybee magazines and  share their ideas with Volunteers.

Herbal Healers’ Meet
Twice in the last four years Palle Srujana organized ‘Herbal Healers’ Meet for 2 days each in collaboration with NIF. Healers with decades of experience in traditional knowledge and health practice have shared their knowledge with formal system and also with fellow healers. Lot of learning, documenting over 300 practices, involving State Govt, local Ayurveda Institutions, research scholars in Health sector, resulted in meaningful deliberations during these Meets. NIF support was praiseworthy in both the meets.

Involving College students
Engineering Institutions have been coming forward to involve their students in the various activity of Palle Srujana. Inviting to address students, visiting villages participating Chinna shodha yatras, presenting solutions through competitions on problems identified from villages/society, inviting innovators to Colleges, organizing display of innovations in college premises, visiting IDC with faculty and students, signing of MoU, deputing students for social internship etc are some of the activities colleges are involved in the past 5 years. As we see the trend, this activity is likely to catch up in the coming years across both the states.

In search of Children creativity
We found volunteers are keen to visit schools and capture the creativity of children. Their enthusiasm made us collect over ideas from over 10000 children during 2016. These were shortlisted and translated into English by volunteers. For IGNITE 2017 ideas from another 3000 children have been collected. These are under dispatch to NIF after scrutiny and translation. Palle Srujana hopes to enhance this activity in the coming years with the help of local Govts.

Asu Machine
All efforts were made over the years to provide Laxmi Asu machines to the weaver families with contributions from the individuals across the world and also organizations. These efforts during the last four years resulted in providing over 300 Asu machines.  Efforts by Palle Srujana and NIF with state and central Govts have not yielded satisfactory results. We are expecting a huge contribution from NRIs living in UK and US in the coming months. We sincerely hope to complete the supply of Asu machines to the entire community removing the manual asu process completely.

Exhibitions – Innovations display
With the help of many volunteers, Palle Srujana was able to organize exhibitions/display of innovations in various parts of both the Telugu states. 9 exhibitions during 2015, 12 during 2016 and 5 so far in 2017 have been organized. These interactions brought visibility to the innovations and their sales increased substantially. Offers for more exhibitions are being received every month at Palle Srujana.

Palle Srujana Trust
Supporting the innovators to get their innovations ready for sale remained a difficult task for Palle Srujana. MVIF support was inadequate to the innovations requiring fund support. After a lot of deliberations amongst the volunteers for over an year, with the initiative of Mr Srikar, Palle Srujana Trust was formally constituted during 2016. Case based contributions in the form of loan/grant are sought from the volunteer network of Palle Srujana and support extended to innovators at the discretion of the Trust.  

Interaction with Farm Equipment Industry
With the increased rate of dissemination of innovations, farm equipment Industry, Agri enginering Institutions,  Govt, NGOs started to looking up to Palle Srujana for solutions to the prevailing agri problems of farmers. Few Farm equipment companies approached Palle Srujana for providing solutions to unmet needs.  “Sri Paddy Weeder”. “Saf flower picker”, “Sprayer for horticulture”, “Nematicide” for vegetables, horticulture  etc were made by the innovators and after adequate field trials, these agri companies came forward to market them. Palle Srujana enabled the innovators to manufacture in  their villages, while the marketing is being done by the Agri firms. 

Horizontal dissemination of Knowledge
Palle Srujana with a view to disseminate the knowledge of the people horizontally has been providing information to local print media about the outstanding seeds, machines, plants etc. Information on an innovative mango variety Sada Bahar developed by Srikishan Suman, Kota was published in June 2017 in a popular Telugu daily and the response from the Telugu farmers was spontaneous. With the help of NIF Palle Srujana coordinated distribution of 200 saplings. Another demand of 3000 saplings is being collected to distribute them in January 2018. Similarly, Harvester developed by Innovator Sri Satyendra Prasad was also published during July 17 in the local daily. Response has been excellent. Palle Srujana is working out modalities to supply the innovation to Telugu farmers. Effective dissemination of innovations across 1600 Kms is credited to the strength of Nationwide Honeybee network.

Achievement of Innovators
The impact of the voluntary effort of Palle Srujana as part of Honeybee Network has been worth noting. 13 Rashtrapathi/National awards, over 20 patents in various stage of approval, over 30 innovations are being sold in the market whose turnover is over Rs 2 Crores during the year 2016-17. Employment generated due to the sale of these innovations is close to 100. Four innovators purchasing cars is an indication of poverty alleviation through their knowledge.

 

Prepared by
Team Palle Srujana
July 2017

 

 

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