Monday, 13 October 2014

Young Social Innovators Conclave sets the ball rolling for change in urban India

Sustainable development models discussed at India’s largest innovation exchange forum

Mumbai, 13th October, 2014: Young Social Innovators Conclave 2014, India’s eagerly awaited youth event, remained the ultimate confluence of ideas, inspirations and innovations.
A joint initiative by Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation, UN-Habitat and University of Mumbai’s Sir JJ College of Architecture, the conclave facilitated bright young social innovators, working on models of urbanisation, to meet and interact with field experts.
The two day event was organised at University of Mumbai’s Sir JJ College of Architecture, on 10th and 11th October, 2014. The conclave saw over 300 participants, more than 50 innovators and speakers.
India’s largest innovation exchange programme provided an excellent opportunity to propose and discuss cutting-edge initiatives, solutions, experiences and challenges in urban development through interactive workshops and presentations. The event covered nine thematic areas, namely, gender equality and empowerment, health, livelihoods, urban planning, governance, environment and climate change, art and culture, education, and sports. Youth-led developments across the country were acknowledged through India Youth Fund Awards.
Leni Chaudhuri, Programme Head, Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation said,We, at the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation, thought it apt to bring together the power of youth with the power of social innovation to create an opportunity to learn, share and collaborate to bring about youth led social change. We believe that India has the potential to move steadfastly in the growth path without compromising on the quality of life of its key stakeholders- the youth. We want to play the role of that catalyst for change which focuses on developing the next generation leaders who can solve the India’s most challenging problems in areas such as education, the environment, poverty, healthcare, and social justice. This conclave is our first step in this direction.”
The conclave resolves to address the following:
> Launch a network of young social innovators, technical experts, UN agencies, Government and academic institutions to facilitate dialogue on youth led development.
> Support programmes which encourage greater participation of youth in the development programs and processes.
> To support action and research on issues impacting the lives of youth in the country”.
Speakers at the conclave comprised a dazzling array of experts as, Ujjwal Uke, Principal Secretary, Woman and Child Development Department, Government of Maharashtra, Padmashri Dr. Pramod Kale, Director, ICIT, VLSI Design & Research Centre, University of Pune and Dr Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Senior Director and the Chief Advisor to the Executive Director, UN-Habitat and Padmini Somani - Director Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation,
Speaking about this initiative, Dr Banji-Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Senior Director & Chief Advisor to the Executive Director, UN-Habitat said, “We need to bridge the gap between people individuals who have ideas and people who run the economy. The fact that one is educated, does not guarantee a job. We need to push for innovation to create jobs. This conclave sets the tone for this thought process which is essential for a sturdy growth.”
On the inaugural day, detailed discussions and presentations were held in various categories including Gender Equality and Empowerment, Environment and Climate Change, Livelihoods and Health. Esteemed panelists as Dr. Nayreen Daruwala- Programme Director SNEHA, Surekha Ghogale-CEO Aga Khan Planning and Building Services India, Dr. Mahesh Kamble, Sociologist, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Dr. Armida Fernandez, Founder Trustee, SNEHA have assessed the presentations by young innovators working in the respective domains. Workshops on Crowdfunding by Wish berry and a workshop on Ecological Footprint by Jyotsna Bapat were also conducted.

The second day saw panelists as Ravi Karkara- Global Advisor Youth UN-Habitat New York, Pankaj Joshi, Executive Director, Urban Design Research Institute, Dr Nandini Manjrekar, Associate Professor, Chairman-Centre for Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Rajiv Mishra, Principal, Sir JJ College of Architecure and Dr. Amita Bhide, Chairman of the Centre of Urban Planning, Policy and Governance, School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Areas covered on this day included Innovative Education, Sports, Art and Culture, Livelihoods, Governance and Urban Planning.
The conclave set the tone for the post 2015 agenda where youth’s participation across nation and the world was encouraged. The message was that the youth need to be an integral part of the legislative discourse and have a say in the reforming of society towards development using innovation as a tool.

Among the major case studies presented and appreciated on Day 1 were:
Freemium Health- By Dr. Mohit Sharma
An idea to empower each individual with all the healthcare information Freemium Health, an online web portal, works towards providing an all India Healthcare directory.
Healthera – By Suhani Mohan
Talking about the importance of health and hygiene among women, Healthera provides machinery to produce low cost sanitary napkins for small-scale entrepreneurs.
Mobilio Organic – By Naren Subramnian
This model talked about a sincere effort towards waste management and even recycling.
Helping Faceless – By Shashank Singh
The concept talked about using technology to curb human trafficking.
Day 2 also witnessed some of the unique case studies by the innovators:
Vision 64
The objective is to reach out to chess players who are visually impaired, through a meticulously designed, fully portable and low-cost chess set, thereby increasing levels of confidence and competence.

National Streets for Performing Arts
An initiative to Take Art to People and Support the Livelihoods of independent artists
iConnect India
It is a field, helpline- and web-based platform that helps connect government initiated poverty alleviation schemes to deserving beneficiaries, thereby ensuring better utilisation of public funds.
Girls Learning Centre
It aims to become a community based educational model to provide continuous quality learning space to improve the quality of slum girls’ basic education.

 About the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation
Established in the year 2002, the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation is a non-profit initiative created to support enterprising individuals and innovative organisations. The Foundation believes in building the skills and capabilities of people and communities, to deliver a sustainable and lasting impact on society. To this end, the Foundation partners with charitable and philanthropic initiatives and developmental enterprises, by funding and mentoring programmes that enable better access to healthcare, governance, education, livelihood and art and culture.
About UN-Habitat
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, is the United Nations agency that promotes socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. UN-Habitat's programmes are designed to help policy-makers and local communities get to grips with human settlements and urban issues and find workable, lasting solutions.

India Youth Fund
The India Youth Fund is a partnership between UN-Habitat and the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation. The Fund aims to assist youth-led organisations in designing and implementing projects that will contribute to sustainable urbanisation in India. Furthermore, it seeks to gain insight from successful grassroots youth projects and create greater awareness of the need for youth mainstreaming in development policies and strategies. The overarching objective of the Fund is to increase the opportunities of urban young people in India to improve the living conditions for themselves and their communities.

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