“Necessity is the mother of Invention.”
A famous quote known by all, it rings truer than ever today in an age of starkly dichotomous needs. The chasm between those who are struggling for the most basic of necessities and those who drown in excess is ever-widening; the attention to the former diminishing dangerously every day. However, it cannot be ignored that over 68% of our population actually subsists in the country’s rural areas, often in deplorable conditions. So what does one do when basic services like electricity or clean, drinking water are not easily available? Well, you innovate.
In fact, a Professor Anil Gupta actually spent over 2 decades scouring rural India for inventions motivated by the belief that “the most powerful ideas for fighting poverty and hardship won’t come from corporate research labs, but from ordinary people struggling to survive.” Unsurprisingly, Gupta and his cronies have discovered over 25000 inventions like this, all of which will make your jaw drop.
Recently, we came across the ‘water wheel’ that was going a bit viral across social media streams too. The incredibly simplicity of the invention and the sheer magnitude of the impact it had on lives blew us away. Girls and women carrying plastic jerry cans of water on their heads is a common sight in rural areas of poor countries. The WaterWheel eases that burden by storing water in a round 50-litre container that doubles as a wheel.even today.
Naturally, it got us to thinking about other useful inventions made that changed the lives of people in rural India. Here’s a list of ten we uncovered.
I. The Solar Mosquito Destroyer
Inventor: Mathews K Mathew
Developed in Kerala, this one-of-its-kind device could be a roaring success in the cities as well as far as we’re concerned. Using the septic tank smell as an attracting device for the mosquitoes, heat builds up inside it due to direct exposure to sunlight. Once the mosquitoes are trapped inside, they eventually die due to the accumulated heat. This device is a one-time investment, as it requires nothing but the sun’s rays for its working and although it is ineffective at night, the device has seen enough success to prompt Matthews into making a house-fly version of it too.
II. The Water Walking Shoes
Inventor: Dwarka Prasad Chaurasia
What do you do when your village gets flooded, or when the only bridge to the other side of the river breaks down? Chaurasia simply solved the problem by inventing the water shoes. Developed over three decades ago in Uttar Pradesh, the shoes are made of thermocol, which is bonded with a rexine sheet.
Using metal straps for back support, one can easily “walk” or skate over a lake while also using a pair of oars for maintaining balance. The shoes are so effective that they are widely used in flood-hit areas for the purpose of rescue operations even today.
III. The Washing-cum-exercise Machine
Inventor: Remya Jose
Not everyone can afford the luxury of a washing machine & the only other option was washing the clothes with your bare hands. But Remya Jose, a young teenager from Kerala who was sick and tired of washing the dirty clothes with her hands decided to do something about it. She went ahead and created a washing machine that resembles the exercising cycle in your local gym. 3-4 minutes of pedalling later, the clothes were completely washed, and also came out 80% dry. The machine not only washes clothes effectively, but also saves time and electricity. And in case you’re a fitness freak, it helps tone those leg muscles too!
IV. The Cotton Harvester
Inventor: Nattubhai Vader
Anyone with even the smallest bit of knowledge about farming would know that cotton-picking is the toughest, most gruesome form of harvesting there is. To counter that, Vader came up with an innovative design. A massive apparatus of spinning rubber hoses and a vacuum is attached to the tractor, which is then used to pick the cotton. The device is so effective that it picks as much cotton in an hour as 10 people would over a period of two days so you can imagine the kind of impact it’s had on people’s lives.
V. The Cotton De-seeder
Inventor: Abdul Rahim Khan
Once you pick the cotton, it is followed by another problem – de-seeding it. Most cotton de-seeding machines are very expensive but not if you use this one. One of Khan’s many inventions, this device is just as effective as any other de-seeding machine but made with different materials (mostly wood). Costing just Rs. 220 to make, it saves as much as 10 times the amount, making it an incredibly effective solution to the poorest of farmers out there.
VI. The Milking Machine
Inventor: Raghav Gowda
Milking is a tiring task. The dairy owners have to wake up at five in the morning, and start milking the cows, one by one, so that they can provide fresh milk to the customers. Apart from that, finding the personnel to do the job for you is no easy task either. Using machines is an option, but it is very expensive, something only large, successful dairy can afford. So, Gowda came up with a simple solution – his very own milking machine. Affordable and effective, the machine uses suctions that can milk as much as 1.5 litres of milk per minute – much more than a person can manage. Furthermore, the cow does not feel any pain either, making it a win-win situation overall.
VII. The Well Pulley with a Brake
Inventor: Amrit Agrawal
Drawing water from a well is an essential part of a person’s life in the village. Although it seems easy, it can be a rather tedious task, especially for the women, who have other jobs to do throughout the day as well. So, Agrawat came up with three different types of pulleys – each of which can be used according to the type of well in question. This allows the women to rest amidst the hard labour, and the “stopper” helps make the task way easier.
VIII. The Water Tires
Inventor: The Farmers of Madhya Pradesh
Ploughing the hard fields is difficult if your tractor is light. It’s even more difficult if your tractor salesmen sell you expensive “weights” so that your tractor becomes heavier. So what do you do? You get together and brainstorm, and that’s exactly what the farmers of Madhya Pradesh did. The result was something so beautiful and simple that you can only marvel and applaud. They decided to fill the tires with water. Yes; plain, good old, water. This meant that the tractors got heavier, at absolutely no cost, making ploughing easier. The idea has been a huge hit since, and has benefitted millions of farmers across the country.
IX. The Multipurpose Herbs Processor
Inventor: Daramveer Kamboj
Crazy about herbs since childhood, Kamboj developed the obsession from his mother, who was an herbalist. What peeved Kamboj is that there were no cost-effective machines to make the process of converting herbs into gel a lot easier. After a years of unsuccessful prototypes, he finally came up with the processor, which can easily pulverise and extract oil or gel from any kind of herbs. The machine, Kamboj’s childhood dream, can cheaply produce gel from leaves and twigs as well which has proved to be highly beneficial to many living in the rural areas as well both for production purposes as well as self-medication in many cases.
X. The Tree Climbing Machine
Inventor: M J Joseph
An innovative farmer, many of Joseph’s inventions failed to impress – till he came up with the Tree Climbing Machine. The machine consists of two loops and pedals for each food, which one can easily use to climb a tree. Primarily used for coconut trees, it can be adjusted and used for various other trees as well. Safe, cheap and convenient, the machine has been a roaring success, and the National Innovation Foundation has gone on to facilitate its sale to various other countries like USA, Maldives, Australia, Mexico and Brazil. So the next time you enjoy a refreshing glass of coconut water, make sure you thank Mr. Joseph.
Words: Rameez Shaikh