Overcoming Inertia: children show the way


Overcoming Inertia: children show the way
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Most of us in India have seen city bus drivers driving away even before the passengers have either boarded the bus or gotten down. They are in rush to get passengers before other buses get them. It doesn’t matter if some of the old people, children or women fall down and get injured. What did we do after observing such problems? Nothing at all except cribbing about it in our drawing rooms or office corridors. But thankfully, our children are not so patient with inefficiency any more. And that is the most redeeming thing we can say about our future.

R. Santhosh, Class 11, from Tamil Nadu couldn’t live with this problem any more and sent an idea to the National Innovation Foundation under the IGNITE competition suggesting that a bus should not start so long as there is any person standing on the steps of the bus. Later, this idea was shared with the former President of the Coach Building Association in Ludhiana. Hopefully, it will become part of the standards for making buses so that no child woman or man would ever fall from the steps of the bus because the driver is in a hurry or the transport authorities don’t care.

How would you like the idea that if we don’t sit straight, say while watching TV or working on a computer, the screen switches off till you correct your posture? You might say yes, that is the right thing to do and then still sit with an improper posture. However, if the idea of Sunvi Agarwal, Class 10, from Chandigarh converts into a practical application [which is not difficult], you will not be able to avoid sitting in the right posture. Two groups of students have given ideas with slight variations. Sunvi suggest that there should be a sensor on the TV to judge the posture. Kulsoom Rizavi, Class 5, from Lucknow, and Tarun Anand, Class 10, from Ghaziabad suggested sensors in the chair which will check whether the person is sitting properly or not. We are discussing this matter with a leading company in the field of embedded systems and hope to get working prototypes soon. The patent applications in above cases have already been filed by NIF in the name of the children. Forty four children from 17 states reflecting 26 ideas were awarded by Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam recently at the IGNITE function at IIMA organized by NIF in collaboration with CBSE, the Honey Bee Network and other institutions.

Many of us have old parents or other members at home who may have difficulty in walking. There may be nobody else to look after them in the case of any emergency. Soumya Ranjan Behera, Class 7, from Jagatisinghpur sent an idea that if somebody in such a situation falls down due to seizures or other reasons, then a device on the body of the person should immediately inform the pre-selected persons who can act urgently in the matter. Many of us have faced all these problems and yet have not done anything. Children no more want to live with these problems unsolved.

Who has not lost concentration in the class or in a meeting once in a while. A little effort is required to regain the focus. Sometimes, the detour is longer. Students may miss critical points in the discussion or the lecture. Rudra Prasad Goswam, Class 11 , from Jharkhand has given an idea of a pen which will emit a light signal if the hand’s grip gets loosened because of loss of concentration. I am sure many teachers and students would love that idea. Santosh Singh and Khushwant Roy, Class 12, from Jalandar have converted a dot matrix printer into a low cost brail printer. Wouldn’t that help increase the access of blind people to a lot of content which otherwise they are not able to access? Numerous examples of this kind are available atwww.nifindia.org/ignite. The competition for the current year is already announced [last date August 31, 2014,ignite@nifindia.org]. Very soon the inverted model of innovation promoted by the Honey Bee Network will become an important element of the inclusive innovation system worldwide. The model implies that children invent, engineers fabricate and companies commercialise. We can add that the regulators or policy makers will create new standards of designing various products and services taking cues from children. Children, like the informal sector, are not just the sink of resources but are also the source of ideas. It is time we learn to listen to them so that they can shape the world they want to be a leader of.


Visiting Faculty, IIM Ahmedabad & IIT Bombay and an independent thinker, activist for the cause of creative communities and individuals at grassroots, tech institutions and any other walk of life committed to make this world a more creative, compassionate and collaborative place