Are we ready for Social Innovation Exchange-India? Tracking the progress of Working Group-I

The Social Innovation Exchange is a global organization with several regional hubs, such as SIX Asian in Hong Kong. What if there were to be a SIX India? What would be its mandate? What activities and goals should it pursue? The following account gives snapshot of exciting conversation that was convened in the garden space.

The Working Group begins a vibrant conversation trying to define the several challenges around the concept of social innovation initiated by Dr. Aditya Dev Sood, CEO and Founder, CKS. There is a great deal of excitement around the two tables where social entrepreneurs and thought leaders are collaboratively talking about social innovation. One of the panel members, believes that India is a powerhouse of energy and must be included in this wave of social innovation that is slowly enveloping the world.

Louise Pulford, CEO, SIX, UK brings in critical insights into the discussion by defining social innovation as a method to bring about effective social change. She questions the  missing link between the innovators and their goals, urging social innovators to include the people’s perspective and experiences into the model of social innovation. According to her, it is critical to have an open and inclusive model of social innovation. Taking this point further, one of the participants states that empathy in itself cannot ensure participation of the people; they must be included in the process of design innovation.

The role of the other institutions of the society, specifically the private sector and the Government is also being debated in the Working Group. While most participants agreed that a social innovation platform in the form of SIX, India will decentralise the problem solving process, the degree and scope of decentralisation remained unanswered.

‘If knowledge is power, we are slowly entering a  decade where more and more knowledge is being shared’, says Nehal Sanghavi, Advisor, USAID, India. According to him, there is a major political shift that the world is witnessing and the global character of the social world is facilitated by the fluid, open and inclusive nature of knowledge and information. Adding to this comment, a participant, makes an interesting point about shifting terminologies from ‘knowledge-sharing’ to ‘knowledge-interdependence’ which can only be facilitated by interaction and steady communication.

Exploring the role of the private sector, Dr. Aditya Dev Sood states that a structured institutional change needs to be initiated by the the private sector which should encapsulate the social sector. By drawing attention to the Company’s Act, Dr. Aditya Dev Sood, discusses the ways in which the CSR Act has changed the dynamics of interaction between the corporate world and development sector making the relation more intimate. Interaction is then seen as a key for social innovation and design thinking and the creation of SIX India is being ushered as the new platform where possibilities for interaction among thought leaders can be facilitated and oriented towards social innovation.

Looking specifically at the functions and processes of SIX, the Working Group moves to discuss the ways in which SIX has impacted the world. SIX has been able to facilitate change not only at the macro-policy level but at the grassroots level as well.  Louise Pulford believes that SIX should be seen as a social support group, because ‘ Innovation requires bravery’. Ada Wong adds that apart from its structural elements, the essence of SIX is that it enables organisations to ‘adapt and localise’, making knowledge about social innovation open and available to all to suit the local contexts. The cross-sectoral approach and the diverse range of topics covered under SIX, make it an inclusive and open platform for lessons sharing and best practices learning.

At this point Aditya identifies a core group that will continue to work on the mandate of SIX, India. The rest of the group breaks away for an early coffee break continuing the conversation over steaming hot cups of coffee and freshly baked cookies, while Ada Wong, Louise Pulford and Dr. Aditya Dev Sood continue to define the scope and scale of SIX, India.

The final outcome of the Working Group session will be revealed shortly at a public presentation which will be live blogged. The idea of SIX, India is right here, stay tuned to know more!

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