Inverted Model of Innovation: children inventors
Mohamad Sajid Ansari, a student of class seven had observed his mother Mrs. Robiah Khatun cleaning the rice every day. Some of the rice gets broken while beating the paddy seeds in the manual husking device. Some impurities and inert materials also get mixed. Most of us have observed similar sights at our home. But, majority of us learned to live with problems unsolved indefinitely. This is crime which our generation has committed almost uniformly in the context of numerous problems faced by poor rural women. Sajid was different. He did not live with the problem. He innovated an electrical machine which separated the full grain and the other impurities , broken grain, etc., in just about Rs.2000/- Nowhere in the country, have we come across a small desktop machine for the purpose. His father, Mr. Kalim Ansari is a tailor and provides his services through a mobile sewing machine mounted on a cart door to door. Unfortunately, during the removal of encroachments in the Ranchi city, there house was demolished and they had to move to village Pirra, block Ratu in district Ranchi, fifteen kilometers away. Sajid joined the 27th Shodhyatra from silli to hundru during the last two days and showed his creative skills to children in the school and other villagers. He is also a very good Urdu poet and was recognized for his literary skills by the former Governor of Jharkhand. He was also given fee waiver but after a while the school refused to honour that commitment. Local media protested on his behalf and the school had to readmit Sajid. Let us hope that he will be mentored by Shodhyatris in future and his talent would get due recognition in future. We shared his story with the Chief Secretary of the state who showed a lot of interest in his case. We hope he is rehabilitated.
We also met two sisters viz., Garima, 12th class and Hina, 9th class who had fitted a battery operated fan on the top of a pen. Given the frequent power supply breakdown, fan would certainly comfort the writer. I call this Inverted model of innovation, where children invent, engineers and designers fabricate and companies commercialize. Earlier Nisha Choubey, class 8th had designed a stroller with folding seat which is at an advanced stage of fabrication and is likely to be commercialized by the Future Group.
We had a quiz to redesign the match stick which we normally throw away after lighting a candle. Since it was made of wood which is quite scarce, the challenge was to find a way of extending the life of each stick. Within a minute or two, we could get similar answers as were given by the students at IIMA or in China, USA, Malaysia where such an exercise was done earlier. Once the children were convinced that they could become inventors themselves, they were asked to imagine products or services which had either never been delivered or required considerable improvement. A large number of ideas came out, few of which were awarded on the spot such as: Rajesh kumar kishor asked why couldn’t the plastic waste be melted and used for layering on the road. He was not aware that a Professor in Madurai and an entrepreneur in Bangalore had actually established experimentally that mixing ten per cent plastic waste in bitumen could save cost and improve the quality and life of road. He was thus on the edge ( It is a different mater that this idea will not be used by highways authority, lest it brings about efficiency in road construction. Does it matter that a few hundred kilometers of such roads in Madurai has withstood the test of the time). Manoj Rajwar and Manjay prajapati took the cake for suggesting a remote control mechanical plough for the field. These were mostly tribal kids from 9th to 11th class coming from johna high school, District Ranchi, Jharkhand. Some wanted a machine to make rotis, another wanted to cut vegetables, still another, subhash oraon wanted mobile should disclose the location of children to those who make a call at their mobile phone. He was worried that some kids told lies to their parents when they inquired about their whereabouts. But their imagination knew no constraints. Such a remarkable diversity of ideas convinced everybody of the enormous potential that exists among the kids. A girl made an extremely sensitive point which touched the heart of every Shodhyatri. She mentioned that her father after drinking scolded her mother and it became very difficult for her to study. She wanted a room to be created in a village where such children can study and also bring their younger siblings to study. This idea could really solve a major problem of dropout and poor performance of some of the tribal kids. We also met a boy who will find out on which hillock internet worked best, he would go there to download ten questions in different subjects, solve these and send them and get results to benchmark his performance. Such an appetite for learning in class tenth boy, is not visible even among city boys and girls many times.
There was enormous interest among children and it is hoped that many more creative ideas would follow by August end for IGNITE-11competition organized by National Innovation Foundation (www.nif.org.in/ignite/ignite_
But the irony is that you will not find lessons about them in school books, not yet. Are not our minds still Colonized!!!!!!! Once these ideas get recognition form abroad, these will be hit locally, is that how a world class mindset gets created!!! Ask education and other ministers who seem to be more concerned about tinkering with systems that work rather than fixing what does not.
Anil K Gupta