Some Useful Innovations for Rural People


Maneka Sanjay Gandhi


(Bihar Times)The new government needs to have an R & D cell. India’s research and development is possibly the worst in the world. We employ tired and imaginationless bureaucrats to solve problems using technology that is completely outdated. We refuse to encourage or pay for inventions that are made by villagers to solve local problems. We have a sleepy patent office that is so complicated that no one approaches  it. Our ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) writes a few papers on some new way of doing things and then buries the papers in its own offices.

National Innovation Foundation run by Professor Anil Gupta  (of IIM, Ahmedabad) looks for new inventions all the time and gets the innovators rewarded with prizes and patents.

I spoke to him during the election. I am desperately looking for new ways in which I can make the villagers of my constituency earn money while in their villages. The time has passed for me to look for new factories – Uttar Pradesh has neither the political will, the electricity or the infrastructure to attract investors. So I want to use the agriculture base of my area to invent new things.

I asked Prof Gupta to invent me machines that could be spread from village to village that did something with cow dung. True to form, he took a month to come up with three machines:

1.      A machine that turns cowdung into large and firm logs that can be used at cremation grounds. These will replace wood since we are now rapidly running out of forests. One dead body uses 600 kg of wood (usually mango wood) and we simply cannot afford that any more. Poachers come at night to the mango orchards and cut down fruit trees for burning the trunks. This is the worst crime I can think of. I am now taking the machine to my area to see whether we can get the women to use it and make money. It will save wood, make money and even better, stop cows and buffaloes from being sold to butchers after they stop giving milk.

2.      A machine that turns cowdung into flowerpots. The forest department uses plastic to put seedlings in. All state forest nurseries are full of discarded plastic. These flowerpots are cheaper and amazing because they act as self fertilizers. If we can get the forest departments to buy these instead at the same price, we can have healthier plants and biodegradable pots.

3.      A machine that makes bricks out of cowdung mixed with bhoosa- the residue of wheat which is normally burnt by farmers causing tremendous amounts of heat and pollution. If the inventor can stabilise the bricks, we could make village houses out of them – imagine every poor person in a village being able to make their own house instead of being dependent on the mercy of the pradhan to give them pukka houses under some government scheme.

I have added another idea which I am taking forward: the making of organic mosquito repellents from gobar. A small group has already invented the basic unit. All I need to do is refine the idea and Professor Gupta is working on that.

The most wonderful thing about him is that he is excited by all things new and goes actively out to look for them. He has 600+ patents and many of the makers who were really poor people with great ideas have benefited from his interference.

I wish the new prime minister would make a cell of young technocrats who would ask for new inventions and processes to be sent to them. I want to be on it working with Prof. Gupta.

So here is my wish list:

1.      Since no one is going to stop eating meat,  I dream of a future in which meat could be grown from stem cells; an ethical and greener source for meat. Scientists suggest in the journal Trends in Biotechnology that every town or village could one day have its very own small-scale, cultured meat factory. No methane emissions either, so you can eat meat and not destroy the rest of the world’s climate.

2.      Windmills that work in every house and village. A farmer in West Bengal has invented a windmill for Rs. 5,000 which he uses to draw up water for irrigation. This is in a village that does not have great windpower. He simply uses the normal movement of air. The drawing up of water is slow but the fields have actually benefited from that. We need to take his invention and run with it. We have to get off the electricity grid and a hundred mix and match ideas will be needed to make each village self sufficient.

3.      New forms of animal harnesses that do not torture the animal. Today 33% of all yoked oxen die of neck cancer within a few years because of the weight and pressure of the yokes upon their necks.

4.      An invention that will turn plastic back into oil. This could turn into a multi-crore business that could supply oil locally for transport and clean up India’s land and rivers which are now clogged with plastic bags. Millions of cows die from eating plastic. Burning it is not an option. I am told someone in Nagpur is working on this.

5.      A safe painless way to stop beings from breeding – humans, dogs, monkeys. Perhaps a one time pill.

6.      Cars that run on hydrogen gas. Everyone keeps saying they have been invented but where are they? Imagine non-polluting cars. What a wonderful world in which I can breathe again.

I am sure everyone has a list of things they want invented. And many of you have seen small inventions that you wish were taken up by the government publicity and distribution system. Send your ideas to me. Or contact Dr. Vipin Kumar who is a director at the National Innovation Foundation vipin@nifindia.org


To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in



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