Celebrating innovations: Unleashing imagination
The six biennial grassroots innovation award was given by the Hon’ble President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil recently at President House. Out of the last five awards, the four were given by the former and current Presidents of our country. This was the first time when award function itself was held at President House. It was a rare opportunity for common but creative people of our country to have been recognized in this manner.
Amrutbhai Agravat, Pikhor, Junagadh, was honoured with the life time achievement award. He was one of the first volunteers to join Honey Bee Network and has in fact mobilized the largest number of yatris – walkers for the last 28 shodh yatras. Except one, he has attended all the rest. His own innovative contribution is no less significant. He developed more than a dozen innovations including tilting bullock cart, self-locking water pulley, groundnut diggers, wheat sowing box and many others. Beginning his life as a farm labourer, brought up by a widow mother, he became not only an adept workshop mechanic, but also a deeply religious person. He organized more than two dozen shodh sankals – chain of experimenting farmers. He has represented Honey Bee Network in South Africa along with Mansukhbhai and Dhanjibhai. His son, Bharat has developed a reciprocating windmill, an improved stove, a small tractor and many farm implements. Amrutbhai has also been supported by National Innovation Foundation for a community workshop at Pikhor to help budding innovators in the region. There is no doubt that he will inspire many more communities and individuals to innovate in the coming years. His journey from farm labourer to a President awardee illustrates that it is possible for creative people to be recognized, respected and rewarded in their own life time. He has served on the Board of SRISTI and he is a compassionate collaborator of the Honey Bee Network. He has put many innovations in public domain.
Arkhiben Vankar received community award for developing herbal formulation for controlling cotton pests. Another traditional healer, Ramaji Bhimaji Parmar also represented his community for recognition for developing a herbal medicine viz., Zematic for skin diseases. The third community award went to Naval Kishor Singh for sharing herbal medication for curing ephemeral fever. This was the first time when community awards were given at national level for herbal technologies, as it takes long time for validation and value addition in herbal claim. It is possible in future more and more communities will be recognized for their traditional knowledge. Among other notable awardees were Mehtar Husain and Mushtaq Ahmed whose windmill has been modified with significant impact in Gujarat. The Choudhary fabricators in Ahmedabad were given a partnership award for improving windmill. Gurmail Singh Dhonsi was honoured for innovating a rapid compost maker and a tractor operated tree pruner. Balwan Singh from Haryana was recognized for developing an improved onion variety that Haryana University,Hisar has confirmed, was better than their variety. Md.Fajilul Haque from Assam developed a paddy thresher for green paddy which does not damage the straw. V. Jayaprakash from Kerala developed an efficient wood stove and TT Thomas a black pepper variety respectively. Sib Sankar Mandal from Assam modified an auto engine to achieve higher mileage, a claim verified by IIT Guwahati. Suryanarayan Prajapat from Rajasthan developed another kit to improve mileage in two wheelers. Abhishek Bhagat developed a food making machine which is under design improvement by a private company. Along with Jahangir Ahmad,J&K, he is one of the youngest recipients of national awards. Jahangir has developed a paint dispensing brush which saves the paint and improve the efficiency.
I will share more about awards in the next column. Entrepreneurs and investors are invited to engage with innovators and join hands to bring their ideas to market. We also hope that who could not visit Delhi exhibition will be able to see them here, provided we get some place around Ahmedabad to create a permanent exhibition. Younger generations must be inspired to innovate even more, they deserve it.
Anil K Gupta