Looking back at experiences I had in past, I take pride in learning from people and incidents. The best learning is perhaps self-realisation. As Robert Frost rightly said “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
Working with an organisation which truly believed and based its work on a philanthropist is something you always feel happy about. The brainstorming on celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Practical Action was equally challenging and motivating. Practical Action’s India Office, though a small team, were more concerned about making the efforts of the organisation visible and allowed other to talk about the work exhibiting technology justice.
Starting from the Green School to Solar wind hybrid system we have set up for generating power for the indigenous Kutia Kandha tribe in the Kalahandi District of Odisha was worth mentioning. When all talk about technology, we work on the justice part where technology reaches the poorest of the poor and raises the level of life style.
I was touched by the women of Koraput who are self-sufficient now in the manufacturing of ACCESS cookstoves and have enabled their presence in the community. The same district also witnessed our efforts in the SMRE project, by providing light, life and livelihood to the villagers of Badamanjari and Putsil. The hilly terrains of Koraput, far from grid electricity are now electrified with micro hydro electricity along with livelihood options we have created through the project. Similarly the Hybrid Solar-Wind system in Kalahandi is one of its kind in the state where Technology has been best used for lightening the lives of tribal villages indifferently.
So the celebration was much needed to mark our global presence for 50 years and we went with a plan to discuss more about Technology Justice exhibited by us and as well as by other individuals and organisations. So the celebration marked a National Workshop on Technology Justice which witnessed parallel technical sessions on Renewable energy, Urban Waste and WASH, Agriculture and Livelihood.
A Technology Exhibition showcased some of our innovations such as the Solar Water Bulb, Solar Cart and ACCESS cook stove. Other organisations also displayed their innovations. This exhibition was unveiled by the honourable Minister of Science and Technology Mr Pradeep Panigrahy along with the Vice Chancellor of Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology(OUAT). It is noted that CAET (College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, OUAT ) was the proud partner to host this celebration along with us.
As Jess Scott said, “Good things come to those who wait.” This celebration created a buzz in the development arena in the state. Exhibiting poverty and helplessness is a myth; there are ways to preach the solution and technology justice can make it happen. The celebration welcomed learned speakers such as the Planning board member Mr Sujit Kumar, VC of National Law University Dr ShriKrishna Deva Rao, Dean CEAT Md Khalid Khan and the Regional Director of Practical Action South Asia Mr Achyut Luitel along with the Minister and VC, OUAT. The whole show was conceptualised and run under the able leadership of Dr Birupakshya Dixit, Program Coordinator, Practical Action India Office.
“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of our work that I have witnessed. If I were during my adolescence today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by hoping and visualising the action just as I did when I was then.”
Lastly I can remember the words of Tom Robbins, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” I must say, after celebrating the 50th anniversary, we are still a child and still have miles to come of age.