was a typical, hot Indian summer. Arvindbhai lay on his bed burning
with fever, and thinking as he often did of the solution to problems.
This time the one that vexed him was how to cool water. In the
torrid heat of the Indian summer, cool water is a priceless commodity.
But those traveling and living in the rural areas know that with
summer comes erratic power supply. The ubiquitous earthen pots
prove ineffective once the mercury rises beyond a point. They
are also not suitable for public use. Water coolers are expensive
and require electricity. How can I design something that is not
very costly, provides cool water, consumes less energy and does
not require much maintenance, Arvindbhai asked himself. Not an
unusual question for one who is a trained mechanic and inventor
wife came in to apply a bandage soaked in cool water to his forehead.
As the bandage soothed his fevered brow, it struck him. The summer
heat itself would cool the water! And it would not require any
energy input other than the heat lost by evaporation. Today Arvindbhai
is the proud inventor of a "natural water cooler"
(see image below) - a device that, based on the principle of evaporation,
cools water by almost 5 to 10 degrees in 15 minutes, without using
any kind of non-renewable energy.
so many other inventions in India, Arvindbhai's water cooler would
have languished had it not been for organisations like Gujarat
Grassroots Innovations Augmentation Network (GIAN) -- an initiative
of the Government of Gujarat, the Indian Institute of Management,
Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and Society for Research Initiative in Sustainable
Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI). In order to take Arvindbhai's
invention to the market,GIAN carried out a technology valuation
exercise for the state of Gujarat and developed a valuation model.
The device was further improved on by GIAN with the help of IIT-Mumbai
efforts have resulted in a technology transfer agreement - the
first of its kind in India - where the rights to manufacture and
sell a grassroots technology was bought for an entire state by
a local entrepreneur. M/s Nature Products will pay Arvindbhai
the sum of three lakh rupees for the rights to manufacture and
market the Natural water cooler in the state of Gujarat. It was
not always so for Arvindbhai, who was once so much in debt that
he was forced to sell his workshop.
there are many more unrecognised Arvindbhais, across the rural
hinterland, whose inventions have yet to receive the recognition
they deserve. After seven years of working in 5500 villages primarily
in Gujarat, Sristi has found a wealth of grassroots innovations,
numbering 10,000, that it has catalogued in a database and shared
in a newsletter, Honeybee. The newsletter now reaches about 75
countries, is published in six Indian languages as well as English
and Spanish, and includes innovations from Mongolia, Vietnam,
Uganda, Kenya, Colombia, Ecuador and North America.
The Honey Bee Network, set up by Anil Gupta, a professor at the
Indian Institute of Ahmedabad and his colleagues, felt that rewarding
the grassroots people for their creativity should look beyond
the mere recognition and documentation of their knowledge. It
should also aim towards the commercialization of viable innovations,
so that their benefits are disseminated over a broader spectrum
of the society and the motivation to innovate further is sustained.
was set up as a Green Venture Promotion Fund to enable the rural
innovators to link themselves to formal systems of marketing,
technical and financial services. Now GIAN is helping grassroots
innovators reap the benefits by patenting and investing in various
creations on behalf of inventors like Arvindbhai. GIAN's list
of achievements include setting up the first grassroots innovation-based
fully functional manufacturing plant for small sprayer and conversion
of seven rudimentary innovations into product prototypes, namely
tilting bullock cart, motorcycle-mounted sprayer, hand-operated
sprayer, 12.5 HP tractor, first cotton stripping machines, polybag
filter and an innovative pulley.
also recently succeeded in arranging venture investment for a
Cotton Stripper machine developed by Mansukh Bhai Patel, that
solved an age-old problem of separating kernel from local cotton
varieties for farmers. In a short period of four months Mansukh
bhai returned the principle investment along with an annualized
rate of return of 30 percent.
Honey Bee Network, GIAN and SRISTI were able to prove that a small
investment in grassroots technology has the potential of providing
excellent returns. GIAN also plans to set up India's first Micro
Venture Fund dedicated to grassroots innovations - the Shodh venture
Fund Limited. Last year, the government allocated Rupees 20 crore
to create a National Innovation Foundation based on the philosophies
and practices developed by Sristi.
India has an opportunity to play a key role in promoting green,
grassroots innovations worldwide, says Gupta, who is vice-chairman
of the NIF. Sristi's database of innovations is now being transformed
into an on-line multimedia kiosk that will help innovators and
investors connect across the country.
article was compiled with inputs from GIAN