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4 Unbelievable Indian Inventions That Will Make You Proud!

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NFI logoEditor’s Note: With #GoalPeBol, Youth Ki Awaaz has joined hands with the National Foundation for India to start a conversation around the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals that the Indian government has undertaken to accomplish by 2030. Let’s collectively advocate for successful and timely fulfilment of the SDGs to ensure a brighter future for our nation.

Breathable air, clean food, electricity, and personal hygiene – these things are basic human rights. Yet in 21st century India, equal access to these is still a distant dream for many.

We look to our government to address these urgent needs, through its national schemes and programmes. But perhaps it’s now time for the government to look to its people for solutions.

Indian entrepreneurs across the country have already developed creative solutions for a sustainable future. And partnering with them could have large-scale benefits. After all, wasn’t it our own Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who called for local innovation while presenting the Union Budget this year?

1. Kaalink Device: Turning Harmful Emissions Into Ink And Paint!

After air pollution was declared an emergency in Delhi in November last year, it became obvious that something had to be done to contain the problem.

Traffic is a major source of the deadly PM 2.5, but there is a way to stop the exhaust from Delhi’s 97.05 lakh vehicles from winding up inside our lungs. In 2016, a team of innovators at Graviky Labs developed a little something called the Kaalink device.

“Our technology captures these emissions before they could enter air, to make industrial grade ink and paints,” Graviky Labs co-founder Nikhil Kaushik tells YKA. The device fits onto the tailpipes of vehicles and generators, and works a little something like this:

In 2013, consumption of fossil fuels in India was 72.4%, and we continue to depend on highly polluting, conventional energy sources. Kaushik explains the danger here: “Once carcinogens enter the air, our respiratory system is unable to filter them.”

Kaushik says the government’s current efforts are merely “stop-gap emergency responses”. “What is required is a long term policy approach, wherein various solutions are implemented to create a comprehensive response to the menace of air-pollution.”

Kaalink can be adapted for chimneys and other similar pollution sources, and that’s major.

“We are able establish a recycling paradigm which is essential to save the environment from harmful effects of human activities.”

In the last 30 years, air toxicity has killed 80,000 people in Delhi and Mumbai. And technology like this has the potential to reduce PM 2.5 by 20% and carbon monoxide emissions by 83%!

2. Mitticool: A Refrigerator That Doesn’t Need Electricity!

In 2016, India generated 777.506 billion units of energy through conventional sources like thermal plants. A significant portion of this went into domestic spaces, which are the second largest consumers of electricity.

And of all household appliances, the fridge draw energy 24×7. And you can’t just unplug your fridge, right? Well, Mansukhbhai Prajapati, a potter from Gujarat, has created a fridge that doesn’t need to be plugged in at all!

After the 2001 earthquake, a regional newspaper referred to his matkas as “gareebon ka fridge”. That’s when he took up the challenge of designing a proper earthenware fridge. Four years of research and a few loans later, he developed Mitti Cool, which keeps fruit, vegetables, and milk fresh for a week.

Mitti Cool keeps vegetables and fruits fresh for a week without using electricity. Source: Mitti Cool


“Yeh kudrati tareeke se thanda hua hai (this keeps things cool naturally),” explains Prajapati, “Aur paryavaran ya health ko nuksan nahi karta. (And it doesn’t harm the environment or health)” Prajapati tells YKA that the fridge is even capable of storing insulin injections for people with diabetes, and can also be used in military camps and other power-scarce areas.

So far, he has sold 20,000 units, and his main markets have been big cities like Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad.

While Mitti Cool is the eco-friendly solution that all energy-guzzling city homes need, Prajapati’s goal has always been to serve BPL families. This is also why he has resisted tying up with commercial sellers like Big Bazaar in order to keep his product affordable. But asked if he would consider bringing Mitti Cool to a larger market with the help of the government, he was enthusiastic.

In a country where roughly 300 million people do not have access to electricity, this earthenware fridge can be particularly useful.

3. A Road Laying Technique That Uses Plastic Waste!

Back in 2001, Dr. Rajagopalan Vasudevan, the Dean of Thiagarajar College of Engineering, developed a hybrid road-laying technique that utilised plastic waste.

Dr. Vasudevan explains how plastic waste like carry bags, biscuit covers, Kurkure and Pan Parag packets are first shredded to a 3-4mm length, and then added to stone heated to 170° C. The plastic melts, and it binds and laminates the stone. For every kilometre laid, Dr. Vasudevan says not less than a tonne of plastic is used, and since this process requires much lesser bitumen, carbon emissions are reduced too.

In 2004, his efforts were recognised by Jayalalithaa, who was Tamil Nadu’s chief minister at the time, and since then he says around 20,000kms of his durable plastic roads have been laid in the state. Having secured a patent for these roads in 2006, he said that approximately 1,00,000 such roads have been laid across 11 states in India. All that remains is implementing this technology in the remaining 18 states. And in doing so, Dr Vasudevan reckons India will exhaust all of its plastic waste to cover 41,00,000 kms of roads. “We may need to import plastic waste!” He adds, laughing.

4. Jayaashree Industries: Smashing Silence Around Women’s Sanitation The Eco-Friendly Way!

Eighty Eight per cent of Indian women don’t have access to menstrual care products like tampons, pads or moon cups. Adding to that problem is a culture of shame and silence that exists with it. Which is why Arunachalam Muruganantham, an entrepreneur from Coimbatore, set up Jayaashree Industries to manufacture low-cost sanitary pads.

“When women don’t use sanitary towels, two main reasons are availability and affordability,” Muruganantham told YKA. “We found that there is also a third reason – awareness, which is missing among many people.”

Muruganantham’s process uses high-quality pine wood pulp, in place of expensive cotton, to manufacture sanitary pads in 27 Indian states as well as seven other countries. Jayashree Industries has also been a huge help to many women’s self-help groups, creating jobs for 21,000 women.

What’s more is that these sanitary pads are eco-friendly too! Says the 55-year-old Padma Shri awardee: “We only use natural materials, with no chemicals involved. We provide utmost comfort and our product is completely biodegradable.”

These four innovative solutions are already complementing India’s commitment to achieving its sustainable development goals on climate action, universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, and environmentally sound management of chemicals and waste.

And diverse as they may be, there is a common thread that runs between Kaalink, MittiCool, the plastic roads, and Jayshree Industries. All of them are green technologies, that generate significantly lesser emissions than their conventional counterparts.

India aims to cut its emissions by 20-25 per cent (compared with the 2005 level) in the next three years, and these technologies have the potential to not just help the country do that, but also deliver on the sustainable development promises it made to the international community. If India wants to be viewed as a globally responsible superpower, its growth has to not only be fast, but also sustainable. And these solutions offer just that path.

The question that remains to be answered is – Does the government have the vision to take this direction?

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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