The Mittal Institute’s annual Seed for Change (SFC) competition aims to develop a vibrant ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship in India and Pakistan, offering grant prizes to interdisciplinary student projects that have the potential to positively impact societal, economic, and environmental issues in India and Pakistan. We recently spoke with a few of our past winners of the SFC competition — the teams of Umbulizer, Gramhal, and Meet — to learn how their social enterprise initiatives in Pakistan and India have grown since the time they one.
Category : Social Enterprise
Through a collaboration between the Tata Trusts and the Mittal Institute, the project “Designing a Sanitation Hub” will yield a series of design drawings and representations of how a sanitation “hub” will be configured spatially in both rural and urban settings, including indigenous community settlements (such as the koliwadas and lal dora areas) to high-density squatter settlements.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant and negative impact on the delivery of eye health services around the world, while pushing new behaviors of both consumers and healthcare service provides. We spoke with Ajay Chawariya, the Executive Director of Project Prakash Charitable Trust (PPCT), to understand how the Project Prakash team is dealing with the challenges of providing eye care during the pandemic.
Emmerich Davies, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, recently moderated a discussion with panelists Ayaz Aziz (Manager, Online Education, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center), Nishant Pandey (CEO, American India Foundation), Rumee Singh (Founder, Katha4Nepal), and Haroon Yasin (Co-founder and CEO, Orenda) as they showcased their innovative models of education delivery in times of the pandemic.
The education system in India relies heavily on traditional ways of teaching. However, evidence suggests that active, exploratory learning rather than traditional knowledge–sharing has a more constructive impact on academic performance, creating more motivation and ongoing interest in the subject as it puts the student in direct contact with the learning materials. The Soft Robotic Toolkit, part of the Mittal Institute’s Multidisciplinary Approach to Innovative Social Enterprises supported by Tata Trusts, uses active, hands-on pedagogy to provide cutting edge, high-quality STEM learning.
Even though mental disorders contribute significantly to the burden of illness in India — making it a nationwide public health priority — most of those affected do not receive evidence-based intervention. In low- and middle-income countries, such as India, non-specialist workers are key in providing healthcare to rural areas. Growing evidence demonstrates that with appropriate training and supervision, they can effectively deliver brief psychological treatments for mental disorders. However, the efforts to scale up these initiatives are prevented by a heavy reliance on the traditional methods of face-to-face training and supervision.
In 2019, the Mittal Institute’s Seed for Change competition awarded the Gramhal team, composed of members Vikas Birhma and Pankaj Mahalle, first place. Over the past year, the funding from the competition has helped take their social enterprise initiative off the ground, and Gramhal has already had a significant impact on the lives of smallholder farmers in India. In the last few months of 2019, over 50 farmers sold their produce — worth USD 100,000 — through Gramhal, receiving a fair and higher price.
The latest inauguration ceremonies of two Prakash Vision Centers (PVCs) in Brahmpur and Pali blocks of Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, were recently held in late October. These vision centers have been established under the project “Multidisciplinary Approach to Innovative Social Enterprises” with support from the Mittal Institute and Harvard Global Research Support Centre in India. More than a hundred people from the neighboring villages attended the ceremony, which featured special guests Rinku Yadav, the Village Pradhan of Lalapur village in Brahmpur Block, and Brijil K. Mathew, Manager of Eye Care Services at Fatima Hospital in Gorakhpur. Fatima Hospital is a charitable hospital with a well-appointed ophthalmic division that has partnered with Project Prakash to provide medical treatment to patients referred from PVCs for specialized care.
On April 3rd, the India Digital Health Net (IDHN), a multidisciplinary research and development initiative established to support an Application Programming Interface-enabled (API) federated health data architecture in India, convened a workshop in New Delhi to learn from the several initiatives across the country that are building components of what may ultimately become India’s health tech grid. The workshop was organized with support from the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute and the Asia Center. Dr. Satchit Balsari (Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) and Professor Tarun Khanna (Harvard Business School) served as co-chairs of the event.
The Toolkit team develops low-cost Toolkits that can be used in underserved classrooms in India, their ultimate goal to educate students in cutting-edge soft robotics research through hands-on, cognitive learning. After years of development in the US, the team took its first step in India this week and conducted its first workshop in Delhi with a group of educators and students.
We recently sat down with Dmitry Popov and Ankur Goel, two members of the Soft Robotics Toolkit team at Harvard. This project — currently in the research, development, and testing phase — will become a comprehensive resource that teaches students how to design, fabricate, model, and test their own soft robotic devices.