Chasing Innovation: Making Entrepreneurial Citizens in Modern India

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Princeton University Press, Mar 12, 2019 - Social Science - 304 pages
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A vivid look at how India has developed the idea of entrepreneurial citizens as leaders mobilizing society and how people try to live that promise

Can entrepreneurs develop a nation, serve the poor, and pursue creative freedom, all while generating economic value? In Chasing Innovation, Lilly Irani shows the contradictions that arise as designers, engineers, and businesspeople frame development and governance as opportunities to innovate. Irani documents the rise of "entrepreneurial citizenship" in India over the past seventy years, demonstrating how a global ethos of development through design has come to shape state policy, economic investment, and the middle class in one of the world’s fastest-growing nations.

Drawing on her own professional experience as a Silicon Valley designer and nearly a decade of fieldwork following a Delhi design studio, Irani vividly chronicles the practices and mindsets that hold up professional design as the answer to the challenges of a country of more than one billion people, most of whom are poor. While discussions of entrepreneurial citizenship promise that Indian children can grow up to lead a nation aspiring to uplift the poor, in reality, social, economic, and political structures constrain whose enterprise, which hopes, and which needs can be seen as worthy of investment. In the process, Irani warns, powerful investors, philanthropies, and companies exploit citizens' social relations, empathy, and political hope in the quest to generate economic value. Irani argues that the move to recast social change as innovation, with innovators as heroes, frames otherscraftspeople, workers, and activistsas of lower value, or even dangers to entrepreneurial forms of development.

With meticulous historical context and compelling stories, Chasing Innovation lays bare how long-standing power hierarchies such as class, caste, language, and colonialism continue to shape opportunity in a world where good ideas supposedly rule all.

 

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Contents

Innovators and Their Others
1
Red Hat Linux Delhi launch event December 22 2010 vii
22
From Responsibility to Opportunity
23
State Bank of India advertisement
33
Cover of Creating a Vibrant Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in India Planning Commission 2012
41
Innovation Space at Delhi Science Center 2014
48
Process of Patenting Your Ideas Delhi Science Center
49
Teaching Citizenship Liberalizing Community
53
Entrepreneurial Time and the Bounding of Politics
109
Seeing Like an Entrepreneur Feeling Out Opportunity
141
Can the Subaltern Innovate?
172
Nehru quote outside Nehru Memorial Library New Delhi
176
Sieve tucked between a beam made of branches and a woven roof
180
The Cultivation and Subsumption of Hope
205
Advertisement for winners of Rolexs Awards for Enterprise
206
Notes
219

Stills from National Institute of Design student film Unni 2007
57
Learning to Add Value at the Studio
82
References
233
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

Lilly Irani is assistant professor of communication and science studies at the University of California, San Diego. She is a cofounder and maintainer of digital labor activism tool Turkopticon. Twitter @gleemie