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An innovation movement sparks from remote India’s wonderlands

India envisions placing itself among the top five global scientific powers by 2020 by harnessing the power of bright minds spread across its 1.3 billion population. Sulochana Kakodiya, a shy class 8 student from Govt. MS (Girls) Ashram Bichhua in Chhindwara, District in Madhya Pradesh is one such brilliant mind who topped the INSPIRE-MANAK Awards that recognized a total of 60 innovations from among 2.88 lakhs similar ones from 1.5 lakhs schools all over India.

Realizing that people suffered health related issues due to unhygienic manual cleaning of toilets the little girl came up with an idea of developing an automatic toilet cleaning machine. The brushes for cleaning the toilet are fixed inside the toilet itself and they will automatically clean the toilet by rotating them.

A personal problem triggered the innovative spark in the second position holder in the award, Sayan Akhtar Shaik, a class 9th student of Government Senior Secondary School, Neil Island of South Andaman. His mother suffered a cut in her finger while she was trying to open the plastic cap, by pulling the nylon thread which is attached with LPG cylinder. To resolve this problem, encountered in most households once and for all, he developed a plastic (safety) cap opener of LPG cylinder.

India among the power of bright minds in harvesting

“However, the innovation can have multipurpose use. Besides being used to reduce the difficulties faced by women while opening the plastic safety cap attached with the nozzle of LPG cylinder, it can also be used to open tomato sauce bottle,” he said.

The annual INSPIRE AWARDS - MANAK are inspiring numerous students like them with invitations for participation from all government or private schools throughout the country to send original and creative technological ideas innovations as solutions focusing on common problems.

Students ranging from avid readers and experimenters like Sayan to aspiring IAS officers like Marripelli Abhishek from Telangana who received 3rd Prize for developing 'Paddy filling machine' are submitting their ideas to the Principal/Headmaster of their schools. These ideas are going through a tough screening and mentoring process at the school level, district, state level to be selected for the National level competitions.

Sixty such school students from different parts of the country were conferred awards under the INSPIRE Awards – MANAK programme for their outstanding innovative ideas during 7th National Level Exhibition and Project Competition (NLEPC) of the programme at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

This year witnessed participation from all states including the North Eastern states. A massive flow of ideas poured from the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra each of which state contributed to more than 10% participation. These were closely followed by Madhaya Pradesh and Telangana. Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Orissa each contributed more than 5% participation.  State government schools were the highest participants across states.

As per the MANAK participation data innovation still seems to be male dominated. Except for the Tamil Nadu and Himachal, male participants are far more than female participants in all states.

The ideas projected solutions to varied problems in the form of agricultural tools, pollution reducing pilots, waste management, renewable energy, medical devices, smart devices and so on addressed local problems of urban and rural populations.

Students also displayed models in new areas like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning etc. V Sathvik, a class 9th student from Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh came up with a new idea “Smart India & Digitalization” with the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithm.

“At present in India there is no prior information source to identify fire accidents, atrocities on women, terrorist movements and so on. To solve the problem I have designed the project & introduced a computer programme language aided with artificial intelligence rather than physical sensors,” Sathvik informed.

To prevent molestation and snatching incidents, Kunpati Twenayuktha from Kunool Andhra Pradesh developed ‘Yuktha device’ – a safety weapon for women, which produced current and alarm sound.

The INSPIRE (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research) Awards – MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge) is a flagship scheme of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Innovation Foundation (NIF).  

Aligned with the action plan for "Start-up India" initiative, the scheme is building a critical human resource pool for strengthening, expanding science and technology system and increasing the research & development base by inviting students from all government and private schools throughout the country and enabling them to send their original & creative technological ideas/innovations on the same.

India among the power of bright minds spread across its 1.3 billion population

This year 2,87,994 ideas and innovations have been scouted, with participation from all States and Union Territories of the country. Out of these, 50,279 were provided with a financial support of Rs 10,000 each for developing prototypes. After a series of DLEPC (District Level Exhibition and Project Competition) and subsequent SLEPC (State Level Exhibition and Project Competition) more than 800 of them participated and exhibited during 14 Feb – 15 Feb, 2019 at IIT Delhi.

The NIF conducted a series of mentoring workshops for students from 29 States in about two months at premier Technological Institutions of the country at 16 different locations.  

Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology addressed the young audience at the INSPIRE-MANAK Awards and congratulated them for making a mark in one of the toughest innovation competitions in the world in which 1.5 lakhs schools participated with 2.88 lakhs ideas in 18 Languages.

Prof. Sharma encouraged the young students to come up with more original ideas that can make an impact and DST would support them at all stages. “Next year the award will go for Guinness World Record,” he added.

He mentioned that India is a leading economy, perhaps second in the world when it comes to start-ups (more than 15000) and with programmes like INSPIRE Awards – MANAK this will further grow in years to come.

“Scarcity & aspiration is a deadly combination that brings about innovation and INSPIRE-MANAK awardees are at a stage where they are strengthened by these to generate new ideas,” IIT Delhi Director Prof V Ramgopal Rao said while addressing the young audience.

Prof Rao told the young innovators that they should retain the capability of asking questions. If they can continue generating curiosity to develop innovative ideas, sky is the limit for them.