By Shruti Sonal:
Recently, I came across an article about an initiative by two friends-Raj Desai and Pratik Agarwal – who came up with an amazing technological invention that encourages people to keep their surroundings clean by giving them free Wi-Fi in return. Named “Wi-Fi Trash Bin” it generates an access code on the LED display in front when trash is thrown in it. That access code can then be used to connect to the Wi-Fi network of the dustbin. The makers plan to generate a bin that smiles graphically when somebody throws garbage in it, thus providing non-materialistic incentives. This ingenious idea was just one of the many innovations that are combining profit-making and social welfare, aiming to build a better life for the citizens:
Rintu Kalyani Rathod, a Mumbaikar, chose to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in an innovative way. Owner of ‘Rini Bakes – Bake my Dreams’ she made a 38-inch tall chocolate Ganesha with 35 kg of chocolate in 50 hours. Posting on Facebook, she shared her plans of immersing the Ganesha in milk after 5 days and feeding it to hundreds of underprivileged. She wrote– “It pains me tremendously to see the way our environment is exploited in the name of devotion. I just couldn’t bare the sight on the beach after the Visarjan. Hope to distribute prasad to many more people this time, so Bappa can stay in them forever. After all, Bappa’s favourite place to reside is inside us, nowhere else.”
An example of a simple yet effective innovation was that of a one-liter plastic bottle filled with purified water and some bleach could serve as a light bulb for some of the millions of people who live without electricity. Originally developed by MIT students, the “solar bottle bulb” is now being distributed by the MyShelter Foundation to homes throughout the Philippines. This innovation helped to light up more than a million homes in the area.
Shyamsunder Bedekar, an innovator from Vadodara, Gujarat, whose wife used to address the issue of menstrual hygiene in rural areas, decided to solve the issue of disposal of soiled or used sanitary napkins, his innovation – the “Ashudhdhinashak”. Made of terracotta and concrete, his eco-friendly and low-cost incinerator has the potential to redefine hygiene in rural areas where there is no system of garbage collection like in cities.
The ability of innovation to make lives better is not just restricted to humans but also animals. This fact was recognized by Aakash Dewan of ISD (International School of Design, India) who was named a Gold Award Winner by global design experts at the annual Fast Company International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) awards. He named his innovation – Onedown – a humane rat trap. The trap rests in a horizontal position on a circular foot. A bait inside would lure the rat into the trap, while a metal insert in the base coupled with the weight of the rat will tip the trap and bring it to a vertical position indicating that a rat has been trapped. Then the rat can be released instead of killed.
Who says one has to have degrees or be a MIT/IIT product to innovate? Vedant Dhiren Thaker, is a student of Class 6 from Maharashtra. Like many kids his age, he grew up with toys that broke frequently. However, he decided to use the broken parts – the remote controls, magnets, batteries, etc. – to build new things. Utilising the spare parts obtained from a broken remote-controlled toy car like remote control, the motor drive mechanism circuit, rechargeable batteries and the remote control (RC) circuit used inside the car, he made a prototype device that opens the lock of the main door in his house with a remote control, and has enough range to be easily operated from any part of the house. His simple yet innovative idea made his mother’s life simpler and has the potential to transform many more.
In the midst of a capitalist society driven by profit, such examples of innovation reignite the belief that ideas have the potential to change lives. One can only hope these sparkling minds receive the necessary funding and support from both public and private institutions to implement their ideas on a wider scale.