IIM Bangalore celebrates 75 years of Independence with dialogues on India’s Pioneering Past & Bright Future, a classical music concert, an Independence Run, and more

Bengaluru: “The last twenty years we have been working with Persons with Disabilities, and we see that innovation has made a real difference in their lives. Moreover, a collective effort is a facilitator, whether it is their families, an NGO, a village head and the like, a complete system works in making them self-reliant. Hence, there is a demand to learn how to empower them, and innovation on employability can create magic. Once you can enable a person, sky is the limit,” said Shanti Raghavan, Founder, EnAble India, during a discussion on, ‘India can Lead the World in Support for Persons with Disability’, at IIMB.

IIM Bangalore has been hosting several special programs and activities to mark ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ – 75 years of Independence. The Institute hosted discussions on the theme, ‘India: Pioneering Past and Bright Future’, on 15th August, where Shanti Raghavan was one of the speakers. The talks were moderated by Prof. Sourav Mukherji, Dean of Alumni Relations & Development and faculty in the OBHRM area.

 

Understanding the Indian Knowledge System

A talk on ‘Indian Knowledge System’ was delivered by Prof. B. Mahadevan of the Production and Operations Management area and lead author of the book, ‘Introduction to Indian Knowledge Systems: Concepts and Applications’, released earlier this year.

Explaining the context and relevance of his book, which he said deals with the ‘what, why and how of IKS’, Prof. Mahadevan also explained why Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) is important for us. “Economic security is ensured by traditional wisdom. It is important to document traditional knowledge and provide evidence of prior knowledge. A case in point is that we live in a world of Intellectual Property, but failed in our efforts to get a US patent on production of neem tree cancelled. The other case shows where CSIR successfully forced USPTO to revoke patent it granted on use of powdered turmeric for wound healing.”

Defining IKS, he said, “By Indian, we mean it is indigenous source of knowledge generated by Indian society, under few classifications like geographical demographic, through travellers’ accounts, etc. Knowledge comes from both literary and non-literary sources, spiritual, religious and other domains. By ‘System’, we mean a structured methodology and a classification scheme to access the available corpus of knowledge.”

He gave examples from the IKS corpus like the Indian metal working industry, involving technology such as the lost wax casting process, Wootz steel, etc. “In Mathematics, there is the pan diagonal magic square, Cyclic Geometry, Paninian algorithm, etc. Then, there is Indian astronomy. The Puranas are encyclopaedic. Vaastu Sastra consists of town planning, civil architecture, temple architecture, artistic elements like paintings, furniture, sculpture, furniture and more. Artha Sastra’s public administration perspective is aligned to modern business management perspective. The methods of territorial expansion in Artha Sastra are also relevant to the modern day. All these are original, reliable and practical sources of wisdom,” he explained.

Saying that we have moved away from these, Prof. Mahadevan listed some pitfalls to avoid. “Ignorance of subject is damaging. We must avoid making sweeping conclusions and we must give up our excessive reliance on using translated work to understand our knowledge system,” he added.

 

Indian agriculture: Addressing yield gaps

Prof. Gopal Naik, Jal Jeevan Mission Chair in Utility Development & Water Economics and faculty in the Economics and Social Sciences area, spoke on ‘Developments in Indian Agriculture’. “Agricultural achievements have led to food security. They have contributed to GDP growth, helped in earning foreign exchange, supported livelihood of about 58% of the population and played a significant role in poverty reduction. The growth rate for agriculture and allied activities is 3.9% in FY 2021-22. This consistent achievement has helped us in gaining share in world market in terms of imports or exports,” he said.

He listed growing population, malnutrition, yield gaps due to use of substandard inputs, cultivation practices, declining holding size and inefficient supply chains as some of the challenges faced by the agriculture sector.c “Strengthening of managerial, organizational and technological aspects are needed to counter the challenges. Reforms on institutional market and policies are needed as well,” he said.

Prof. Naik also highlighted some of the emerging solutions including those offered by farmer organizations, policies like eNam, investment in infrastructure, promotion of FPOs and cooperatives, and digital agriculture. “There are new technologies available now like AI, ML, blockchain, etc. Agri start-ups will play an important role in enhancing agricultural productivity in the future,” he added.

 

Need for innovation in emerging tech areas

Prof. Rishikesha T. Krishnan, Director, IIM Bangalore, Ram Charan Chair Professor in Innovation & Leadership and faculty in the Strategy area, shared his thoughts on, ‘India’s Future Lies in Innovation’. His talk detailed the current focus of innovation in India, the kind of innovation that is needed in the future, barriers to innovations in India and solutions to overcome the same.

He listed the top 10 innovation in India during 2011-20 based on importance of problem, novelty of solution and scale of impact, and compared those to the top 10 innovations during the earlier decade. “The decade of 2011-20 has been one of high impact public innovation, on a national scale, creating important platforms and public goods where digital and data have been important drivers. We also see that healthcare is a major area. However, the concern here is a reduction in big ticket, high visibility corporate innovation. The positive thing is that start-ups are emerging as major innovators, but deep tech innovation is still an issue in our country.”

Highlighting the enablers, he said: “We have created a strong digital backbone, and new organizational models have enabled creation of such platforms. Government initiatives like Start-up India, and Government coordinated initiatives, particularly in the healthcare space, end-to-end support for innovation in specific sectors like biotech are other enablers. Venture Capital and Private Equity are increasing their impact in a big way. We have also seen a maturing of the regulatory process in certain sectors. Organizations like the RBI are taking proactive steps to create controlled regulatory test environments in which new products and services may be tested.”

He also spoke at length about the big challenges and solutions. “We need to focus on solving the ‘right’ problems; rapidly build innovation capabilities in emerging technology areas; create a new generation of innovators that gets excited about local challenges; enhance industry-academic collaboration; boost R&D in established companies; find new ways to create genuine innovation clusters and make new platform applications work. Most importantly, we need to pull our efforts together regarding commitment to climate change. A better sense of what we have done in the past will make us better equipped to build capabilities of the future.”

Every talk was followed by a Q&A session.

Earlier in the morning, few special events took place in front of the Main Building of the campus, including flag-hoisting and address by the IIMB Director, Professor Rishikesha T. Krishnan; singing of the National Anthem; patriotic songs by students; announcement of Awards for Outstanding Achievements in the fields of Social Service and Environment Protection (‘Act Beyond the Call of Duty’); music performance by the Staff Recreation Club; Nukkad Natak by students; dance performance by Taal – the dance club of IIMB, and more.

In his Independence Day address, Prof. Rishikesha T Krishnan spoke of the need for institutions to channelize the potential of the country’s youth and nurture future leaders. “We must be catalyst and create change in the lives of youth with high potential,” he said, adding that IIMB’s foray into MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – has been a step in this direction. He touched upon the work being done by the Foundation For Excellence (FFE), an NGO where is a Board Member, and gave instances of youth, from modest backgrounds, who have been able to pursue their career goals with support and mentorship.

 

The Independence Day celebrations at IIM Bangalore had commenced on 14th August 2022 at 7.30 am with an Independence Run on campus with students, faculty, alumni, campus residents and staff. Participants chose from any of the three time slots for the run – 7:30 am to 8:30 am, 9:30 am to 10:30 am, and 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. They were awarded certificates of participation.

Desh Raag: A music concert

On the evening of 14th August, IIMB hosted Desh Raag – a classical music concert by IIMB alumna and vocalist Manasi Prasad who is the Director of the Indian Music Experience Museum, and her group, at the IIMB auditorium. The concert featured eminent musicians in a Karnatic-Hindustani jugalbandi, including Prakash Sontakke (Hindustani slide guitar), Dr. Jyotsna Srikanth (violin), Anoor Vinod Shyam (mridangam) and Adarsh Shenoy (tabla).

Desh Raag is a celebration of India’s rich and vibrant music traditions. Among the featured compositions were a rendition of Raag Mohan Kauns (a creation of Pt. Ravi Shankar in memory of Mahatma Gandhi), and Raga Desh, which was a medley of four well-known compositions in Sanskrit, Kannada, Hindi and Bengali.

The audience was treated to a riveting contest of dexterity and craft between Adarsh on the tabla and Shyam on the mridangam, and to some interesting nuggets of information when the artistes, Manasi and Pravin Sontakke, engaged in a lively conversation about the confluence of Hindustani and Karnatic music.

Prof. Rishikesha T Krishnan felicitated the artistes and thanked them for their performance.

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