Taking technology to grassroots

By : |March 8, 2010 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: The whole idea of innovation at low cost has been there in India for a long time but we have not given much attention to it, thinks Anil K Gupta, president, SRISTI, and professor at IIM Ahmedabad.

Giving an example to his point, he talked about many unsung leaders in the industry who came out with several innovations. One of the heroes was a Haari Narayanan who invented a scooter which could run on compressed air. He was talking at Social Innovation Session held as part of EmTech 2010.

For Gupta, social markets provide diversity of consumption patterns and diversity of production patterns. ‘Pain engenders innovation’, seems to be his motto on the very concept.

“It is not just about innovation, we should also be able to do new ways of marketing to promote each and every innovation. Every consumer in India is a potential innovator. That is the India I am looking at,” he said.

Citing the example of honey bee foundation, he said that India needs an intelligent community to help promote small scale innovation happening in the country.

Gupta said that there had to be a design for innovations, and they should have aspects of sustainability, durability that ages gracefully, simplicity and should be able to blend with various environments. He shared the examples of a village in Champaran where villagers were using cooker for coffee making, and ladies used the walls to showcase their designs.

In the next presentation, Mouhsine Serrar, founder, Prakti Design Lab, talked about new-generation cooking stoves. He said that the villagers were facing the issues of deforestation, global warming, and lack of basic products. In order to solve these issues, Prakti came up with several pot designs from single head to double heads and for household to institutions like hotels.

The third speaker in the panel was Srinivas Pothapragada, CEO, Tidaldata. “We have very poor educational infrastructure particularly at the rural India, so it becomes difficult for our people to have access to education,” he said, emphasizing that invention and innovation are the two key things to help underprivileged people in India.”

“We at Tidaldata have come up with an iPod kind of device for engaged learning program in multi-language. Our innovative product Pyxoid is a performance engaged learning device, and it is easy and fun to use for the rural students.  The form factor of this learning device is very simple – simpler than a simple mobile device with just five keys to help the underprivileged people to spread education in rural India,” Pothapragada noted.

Sabarinath C. Nair, another speaker, talked at great length on affordable ATM required for countries like India to help underprivileged people. Approximately only 20 per cent rural Indians have bank accounts. In developed countries like the US, Europe, and Japan, one ATM is available for 1000 persons, but in India the number of ATMs available for a person is extremely low in numbers. The reason why ATMs are not spreading particularly in rural India is the high capex and opex.

He said, “Our innovation on offering a low-cost ATM reduces 50 per cent capex and 1/10th of opex of conventional installation. Our innovative ATM machine, Gramateller, also consumes just 1/15 of the conventional ATMs, and works without an air-conditioned environment. With Gramateller-like technologies, India can bring about a revolution to its people in the lines of Indian telecom sector. This kind of affordable technologies help for seamless integration of underprivileged people with banks.”   

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