Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
While “Jallikattu” seems to be the trending topic of discussion in Tamil Nadu at the moment, a silent revolution envisioned by youth icon and late Former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has quietly gained momentum. Ignite-India is a nation-wide innovation platform for student innovators and young entrepreneurs in high schools and colleges. Founded by International swimmer Agnishwar Jayaprakash in 2014, the organization has designed & hosted 96 Regional Innovation Conferences and 3 National Innovation Conferences across 36 cities in India where students competed to showcased their innovative creations. These innovations were judged based on the practicality, creativity & sustainability by technical experts from diverse fields.
Ignite-India has attained astronomical success and has been recognized by the United Nations as one of the top Socio-economic educational initiatives that has utilized innovation and technology as a catalyst for young student entrepreneurs across the nation. Acting Director & Registrar of IIT Tirupathi, DR. T.S. Natrajan who has been mentoring the organization quoted, “Participation in Ignite fairs and conferences have grown exponentially.” He added “In all, the innovation conferences were attended by over 230,000 students from 7200 high-schools, leading educationalists, industrial leaders and government policy makers which is a highly positive sign.” The winners of the innovation contests were selected for the first ever reality TV show in India for young student innovators who showcased tremendous innovative capabilities titled “E7ham Arivu” – (7th Sense). Despite having no prior media experience, Agnishwar created and filmed “E7ham Arivu” as its Executive Producer and Director. The 26 year old also funded the project to include state of the art Visual effects and CGI in order to captivate a larger national audience. Season 1 of the show was aired as 100 half hour episodes on weekdays at 7.30 pm on the Government-run National TV Channel Doordarshan (DD). The program was ranked Number 1 in DD’s ratings, officially averaging daily viewership of 360,000 households; a feat unrivalled in the history of the network.
One of the permanent Judges of the TV show, Noted Ecologist Sultan Ahmed Ismail expressed his awe witnessing the potential of the participants of the TV show. “There is no doubt that Dr. Kalam’s dream to spur unique, sustainable innovations lies within the premises of high-schools across the nation.” He further added, “Since the initial episodes, several government policy makers and corporate houses have come forward to fund innovators discovered through Ignite-India and E7ham Arivu. In light of the show being unique, innovative and technology driven, the TV show even includes a drone to deliver awards to the winning special innovator of every episode. In early 2016, Ignite India partnered with the United Nations to increase the show’s reach and impact. Mr. Rajiv Chandran, National Information Officer, UN Information Center for India and Bhutan, summarized the need for such a strategic alliance quoting, “As part of its campaign in India to promote AGENDA 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, UNIC catalyses youth to find creative solutions for current issues.” He added, “Our collaboration with IGNITE India Initiative & E7HAM ARIVU show is blazing a new path and full credit to young Agni for his zeal and energy in promoting innovation.” Two finalists of the TV show received the President’s award for young innovators in successive years 2015 & 2016. Preparations are also underway for the Ignite India Innovation Conference 2017 where 4000 student innovators from across the nation and also delegates from 8 Foreign Universities will to be hosted at Agni College of technology on the 27th of January.
Despite the accolades, Agnishwar Jayaprakash stressed that his work is merely getting started. “I envision an Innovation Ecosystem wherein individual components of talented student innovators from schools, accessible innovation centers, mentors from emerging industries, government funding coupled with a media platform all working in unison aimed at solving Socio-Economic problems that plague our society.” Ignite-India has already caught the attention of leading academicians, researchers, entrepreneurs and industrialists focused on sustainable development. In 2017, he plans to expand Ignite-India’s operations in 20 states by collaborating with the Ministry for Human Resource & Development while creating similar TV shows in regional languages for student innovators partnering with NITI Aayog (Transform India Department). “It was my mentor Dr. APJ Kalam’s guidance that paved the way to create an innovation ecosystem for the youth community,” recalls the young visionary. He concludes saying, “It is my mission to fulfill his vision of integrating media, technology and alternate methods of teaching to enhance adaptive learning in Indian education system.”