There has been an explosion of interest, in India and elsewhere, on social entrepreneurship in the last decade. While many of these developments are indeed welcome there is a need to connect these newer ideas, largely emanating from the West, with trends on social innovation and Indian intellectual traditions of creative dissent. Is the interest in building an ecosystem for successful and scalable social enterprises ignoring the larger set of concerns on social innovation of which social entrepreneurship and social enterprises are part of? Is ‘social innovation’ merely a problem solving endeavour - an effort to find clever new ways to mitigate a wide variety of problems? Or is it about asking what constitutes a society worth living in and what would be its fundamental values? Is it enough to serve the “Bottom of the Pyramid” and make life at the ‘bottom’ more human rights compliant? Or, is it more important to challenge the pyramid structure itself? Are there spaces for questioning or challenging the notion of ‘value’, which currently is almost entirely tied-up with money? Is wealth correction the same as value creation and do they have same connotations for the enterprise and communities? Is there something to learn from Indian ideas on trusteeship in the increased ‘globalisation of giving’? Are Gandhi’s idea of Oceanic Circles and Trusteeship relevant to the discussions on social innovation, and how?
These questions have become critical because much of the buzz about social innovations today is effectively an excitement about a certain kind of business, namely social enterprise, as an instrument of social and economic betterment. Social enterprises are mostly engaged in optimizing and/or enhancing the delivery of services to that large volume of people who are either under-served or left-out of the burgeoning market economy in India.
This sharing session will take further some of the previous discussions at Mumbai (Sharing Session# 28) and the speaker would reflect on these ideas. The session would explore the challenges for promoting social innovation in India in the light of the above ideas and open up current thinking on social entrepreneurship within a broader set around social innovation.
The discussion will be moderated by C Shambu Prasad, Professor, Xavier Institute of Management, who will introduce the topic as well as share some ongoing work on social innovation and social entrepreneurship as part of ongoing work with Villgro. Following the talk by Ms Rajni Bakshi there would be comments by Joseph Thomas of Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CSIE), IIT Madras, as chief discussant and will be followed by an open discussion.