How problem solving can help transform communities ?
Insights and observations by one of our team mates on the impact of COVID in India
The devastating second wave touched every one of our lives. The system was overwhelmed and couldn’t accommodate the increasing number of cases, we all were helpless and witnessed how bad the situation was.
When the system was stretched and could not help all the citizens, it was the civil society that took up this huge task to help each other. People turned to social media sharing emergency requests for beds and oxygen. Tracking requests on Twitter, collating information on sheets, updating information on websites, volunteers verifying resources, motivated households who started delivering food to people in need, small volunteer groups running for oxygen, and many more kinds of help are offered. Citizens contributed in whatever way possible.
Community of Problem Solvers
Apart from the usual civil society organisations, there was a drastic increase in the number of people, companies, and organisations that joined the fight against the crisis. Incidents over the last few months have pushed the citizens in us and maybe, the collective grief, helplessness, and anguish truly brought us together as a community. And these actions and efforts are a testament to what more problem-solving individuals can do.
While COVID is the beginning, there are many other global problems in the making. This is also a reality check and makes us look at various problems of different levels that our communities are facing. From access to healthcare, dignified livelihood opportunities, quality education, lack of awareness and information, access to technology, sanitation, to ineffective governance. It reminded us of all the many problems we ignored till now.
The government simply cannot solve everything, because it neither has the capacity nor the systems in place to solve these problems. Hence, more than ever we need to increase the number of problem-solving individuals i.e increase the problem-solving capacity of our country. Some to enable civic participation, some to come up with innovations, some to establish social enterprises, some to help us to keep the system accountable and some to get into the system to make things happen. And the increased awareness about these issues among people because of covid provides an opportunity and a starting point to engage more people in problem-solving. The increased spirit to help others and to take action should be sustained and channelized in the right direction.
This reinforces our Inqui-Lab’s vision to nurture and create a community of problem solvers by providing more reasons to do what we are trying to do. Problem-solving stands on empathetic observation, collaborations, risk-taking, failure, and feedback. These values are alien to the mainstream education system. Hence we should work to create processes & methodologies to build the problem-solving capacity of people in our country. Many organisations like us are working by engaging young people to solve different kinds of problems. But to unlock the true potential of India’s growing demography of young people, it calls for greater collaboration among civil society organisations, industry and governments. And the responsibility falls on organizations like us to work together to develop a collaborative ecosystem that fosters problem-solving abilities of young people in the civil society, and to work closely with the governments to integrate these processes for larger systemic change.
When we increase the pie of problem-solving individuals, we can truly transform communities through collective action. As they say, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I believe when all this chaos ends, we use this as an opportunity to rethink our priorities and create an environment that enables and nurtures problem-solving capacities of our young people.