During the course of my four years of study at the prestigious College of Agricultural Engineering, I invariably had some hard feelings about my academic discipline i.e. Agricultural Engineering. I always carried an opinion that, what I am pursuing as part of my course curriculum doesn’t have any relevance to the real world problems and it’s a sub-standard engineering science which lacks fundamentals and couldn’t stand on its own feet. I visited the NIF website earlier also, but with out a purpose and never felt much excited. This may be because I never had a purpose to perceive what it was all about. The purposeful visit this time led me to an altogether new world, a fledgling yet indispensable world of grass root innovations. The visit this time proved to be more purposeful, first by disabusing some prejudged notions I was carrying from the last six years about my academic discipline and second by rekindling the waning hopes on my capabilities as an Agricultural Engineer. Thanks to National Innovation Foundation, for it is not only igniting the minds of professional engineers like me but also the minds of people who never had any sort of formal education but have a sleight of hand to innovate and make the world better.
What interested me more while perusing the NIF website is the innovation database. The innovations pertaining to energy efficiency are very inspiring. I have the personal experience of using both wick based and pump based kerosene stoves at my home and I clearly remember my grandmother’s unflagging attempts to conserve the heat and stabilize the flickering flame by placing a metal sheet around the body surrounding the burner. Usha Shankar’s innovation addressed the same problem which many grandmothers in the developing world face. In the face of depleting fossils and raising fuel costs, this pressure type kerosene stove can offer a paradigm shift towards resource conservation and sustainable energy. Shankar’s ability to gain practical insights in to the heat transfer mechanism is commendable and worth rewarding. Another innovation which I felt interesting is related to harvesting the renewable wind energy. Though the wind mills are used on farm from the last many decades, there has never been an attempt to build the structure which is sustainable and cost effective. Hussain and Darrang’s ingenious thought to use light sheet metal and bamboo posts and engineer a mechanism which can convert rotary motion to reciprocating motion is simply out of box. Encouraging such low cost and sustainable technologies on farm will eventually result in reduced input costs and increased farm incomes which has a direct bearing on the food prices.
Along side the innovation database, what caught my sight were the excerpts taken from Dr Kalam’s address on IGNITE 08 which quotes, “learning gives creativity, creativity leads to thinking, thinking provides knowledge, and knowledge makes you great”. In a couple of lines, the whole philosophy of epistemology was beautifully embedded. I believe, NIF with continued support from its network partners Honey bee network, SRISTI and GIAN, is destined to make India a nation built on innovation.