Anil Kumar Gupta is an Indian scholar in the area of grassroots innovations. He is the founder of the Honey Bee Network. He retired as a full-time professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in 2017, where he served for about 36 years. He is a visiting faculty at the institute now. He held an executive vice-chair at the National Innovation Foundation, where he is a member of its governing board now. He is also a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2004 for his contributions to management education.
He is seen as a pioneer in the field of grassroots innovations, in which his contribution includes documenting people's knowledge with the help of teams of volunteers spread across India. He helps grassroots innovators and communities build on their knowledge systems by providing help in filing patents, promoting scientific validation of these innovations by involving government scientific institutes and private individuals and bodies, and facilitating tie-ups with entrepreneurs and industrial groups.
Gupta is known for crafting innovative courses for students at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. One of his most popular courses included shodh yatra, under which he took management students to different parts of the country to learn from local communities and study their knowledge systems. This course was derived from his larger concept of walking through the length and breadth of the country, interacting with farmers, traditional knowledge holders, grassroots innovators, innovative students, etc., which he named shodh yatra (meaning 'research walk'). It started in May 1998 in the western Indian province of Gujarat.
Upon finishing his bachelor's degree (Hons) in Agriculture, he went on to complete his Masters in Sciences (Biochemical Genetics) from Haryana Agricultural University in 1974. In 1986, he earned a Ph.D. in Management from the Kurukshetra University.
His primary focus is on ensuring recognition, respect, and reward for grassroots inventors, and protection of their Intellectual Property rights. His other research interests include the amalgamation of formal and informal science, ethical issues in conservation, and the prosperity of biodiversity. Every summer and winter for more than twelve years, he has spent more than a week walking approximately 6000 km across India to learn from grassroots teachers as part of Shodhyatra. Shodhyatra, a second-year course, is one of the most popular courses taught in IIM-Ahmedabad. Through the Honey Bee Network, he has aimed to demonstrate that the ideas and knowledge of economically poor people are important for the sustainable progress of developing countries.
Gupta has been a professor in the Centre for Management in Agriculture, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad since 1981. Various positions held by him in IIM-A include Chairperson of Research and Publications, Chairperson of Ravi J Matthai Centre for Educational Innovation, and Kasturbhai Lalbhai Chair in Entrepreneurship.
He is a Co-Ordinator of SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiative for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions). He was a speaker at TEDIndia in November 2009. Since 2011, he is an advisor on issues pertaining to innovation, environment, and sustainability to Fair Observer, an online magazine covering global issues.
Gupta wrote the book ‘Grassroots Innovation: Minds on the Margin are not Marginal Minds’ in 2016. Published by Penguin Books India, the book is a compilation of his empirical research, carried out through the Shodh Yatras, on ingenious solutions and innovations crafted by common individuals, targeting local problems faced by local communities.
|Year of Award or Honor||Name of Award or Honor||Awarding Organization|
|2004||Padma Shri National Award (management education)||Government of India|
|2004||Science-in-Society Award||Indian Science Congress Association|
|2000||Asian Innovation Award Gold||Far Eastern Economic Review|
|1993 - 96||Pew Conservation Scholar Award||University of Michigan, USA.|