04.11.2019

Civil society in India presents social innovations for societal transformation

India is known for its frugal innovations and ground-up development models. Through their work, the partners of FES have been pioneering social innovations in their respective fields of interventions.

Graphic © FES India/Sharad Sharma
Graphic © FES India/Sharad Sharma

Finding creative and effective solutions for common social, political, and economic problems is a challenging task. Innovations for societal issues or social innovations are the ideas that create exemplary changes in a society and add value to existing solutions.

Usually, social innovations are seen to be more effective than policy intervention as they are participatory and created from the bottom up, ensuring preservation of grassroots wisdom and knowledge. However, most grassroots social innovations remain local success stories. Their potential to get scaled up for facilitating societal transformation is mostly underutilized. Through their work, the partners of FES India have been pioneering social innovations in their respective fields of interventions.

FES India organized its first flagship conference on India Innovating in August 2019 in Mumbai. At the conference, FES India wanted to celebrate successful ideas of social transformations innovated by its partners over the years.

The best way to showcase all this unique work was to prepare an exhibition of the social innovations. The exhibition was called Social Shots! Basically, an innovation mela, which would capture this one-of-its-kind journey of paradigm shifts.

Scroll down for a visual journey of Social Shots! and find out how the mela turned out to be an innovation in itself.


  • Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani
  • Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani

Social Shots! on display at the India Innovating conference. FES India has three predominant work lines, namely Labour and Social Dialogue, Gender Equality, and Economy of Tomorrow. Fifteen partners from across these work lines were represented at the mela. Photos © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani


Concept © Educated Environments

Social Shots! incorporated a dual-impact idea. Not only was the exhibition designed to showcase innovative ideas, it was designed as an innovative exhibition itself. Working with a literally out-of-the-box idea, the exhibition was made out of eco-friendly recycled material (re-used cardboard boxes and wood) to have minimal environmental footprint. Concept © Educated Environments


Concept © Educated Environments

Unboxing the innovation. The lines of the box are used as grid to put different kind of information provided by the partners into title, text and visual. Concept © Educated Environments


  • Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani, Concept © Educated Environments

The idea was also to create a jigsaw that would allow these panels to be seen in a network where they support each other in building an alternative future. Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani, Concept © Educated Environments


  • Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani
  • Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani

Social Shots! was conceptualized, designed and installed by Educated Environments (EdEn), an organization based in Mumbai working on sustainability issues and documenting social change through innovative medium. Seen here are team members of EdEn installing the exhibition. Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani


  • Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani

The introductory panel at the mela – Capturing Social Innovations. The key visual of Social Shots! represents the nucleus that binds different layers of a society. The three work lines of FES India were assigned three colours. Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani


Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani.

The information from partners was divided into three segments – the societal problem or the issue, the initiative or the social innovation, and the impact in terms of viability in the long term. Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani


Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani

And to ensure longevity of the idea itself, the mela was dismantled at the close of the conference. Individual panels were disassembled and packed in easy-to-handle packages. These were handed over to the participating partners for showcasing at their own workplaces. Anushree Gupta from Tandem Research, Goa is seen here with her packed panel. Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani


Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani

The mela provides an opportunity for organizations to present their work to a larger audience. This translates into appreciation and acknowledgement of often long and unseen struggles and subsequent accomplishments. Seen here are Niranjan Sharma and Pavitra Yadav from SOHARD in Rajasthan in front of their panel.Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani


Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani

The mela was an instant hit as partners took photos and posted them on social media. This brought wider publicity to the organization as well as to the mela. Seen here is Rishi Agarwal from Mumbai Sustainability Centre, Mumbai in front of its panel. Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani


  • Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani
  • Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani

Social Shots! transformed the ambience of the India Innovating conference by providing a lively and vibrant backdrop. It surrounded the participants with a globular conversational space – with expert panels on one end and the mela on the other. Photo © FES India/Natasha Hemrajani


Graphic © FES India/Sharad Sharma
Graphic © FES India/Sharad Sharma

Indian cartoonist Sharad Sharma was assigned the task of capturing the highlights of various sessions into comic art. Here is his artistic impression from the Social Shots!

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For more information on the work by FES in India contact the FES office in New Delhi and follow the official Facebook fan page for daily updates. 

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