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Name Anil Gupta
 
Category EDITORIAL
 
Title Impatient children and the inverted model of innovation
 
Details Education is not just about learning facts or developing logical skills.  It is also about empathy, imagination, inclusivity, collegiality, and playfulness.  It is not surprising that a large number of children who may be academically bright, feel lost when faced with ambiguity, ambivalence and uncertainty. The purpose of the IGNITE competition, organised by NIF every year is to uncover the creative talent of these children.  The unprecedented response to the competition this year has created new benchmarks of curiosity and creativity among children. On November 10, when Dr. Kalam honours twenty-odd creative children, we will also meet some of the kids who sent absurd ideas and others who were also very imaginative. We decided to recognise the children capable of absurd thinking by giving them ‘Kite Flyer Idea Awards’. Who knows? What seems absurd today might become reality tomorrow! Many of these ideas might just become technologies in the future. Let me briefly share the ideas of the children starting with the youngest one, a student of class II. Mohammed Usman Hanif Patel from Jalgaon, Maharashtra thought of a fan inside the house, which will be powered by a windmill on the rooftop. He also thought about a sorting machine for different sizes of oranges. Rajashree Choudhary of Jamshedpur was perturbed with people using cellphones while driving.Therefore, she thought of having a slot in the car where a cellphone could be inserted. Only on inserting the cellphone can the car start. While children are concerned about this bad habit, adults simply ignore this basic etiquette of driving. How many lives lost by negligent driving will be saved by this innovation! Many children notice that elders don’t carry their license with them while driving a car. Krishna Kumar from Tamil Nadu suggested that a car should not start unless a valid license is inserted. Durgesh and Varsha from Bihar and Jyoti, Haryana as well as Ravi Ranjan and Shiv Shankar from Bihar were concerned about the same problem too. Apparently, children all over the country are voting against the irresponsible behaviour of adults. Aditya Joshi from Pune has conceived a spray, which can make gloves and socks waterproof when needed. The layer can be peeled off when not needed. Traffic woes can be a thing of the past if the idea by Charisma from Hyderabad and Siddharth from Uttarakhand sees the light of day. Different times of the day observe traffic moving in one particular direction. If dividers in the centre can be moved left or right according to the direction of the traffic, then utilisation of space can be optimised. Kripesh Swain and Kumar Biswajeet from Bhubaneshwar have thought of a solution to a very serious problem in their society. In flood-prone regions, there are times when all the wells and handpumps get inundated, resulting in severe shortages of drinking water. Efforts have been made to raise the platform of the handpump by a few feet to address this problem. The idea suggested by the young duo is a handpump that automatically increases its height at the onset of flood. Even if such handpumps had to be raised to a higher level manually with some kind of retractable system, it would still be of great relief. Lakshya, Naman, Manav, Utkarsh, Amrit and Sehaj from Delhi have come up with modified headphones and earphones with sensors to pick up sounds above a particular decibel limit. Essentially, this means that if you are listening to a song while walking on the road, your head or earphone would be able to pick up the sound of a horn or any other loud noise. While people may not be able to get rid of their habit of listening to songs while walking or driving, this innovation would certainly reduce the chances of accidents. Arnab from West Bengal was pained by the plight of the rickshaw pullers on a steep road. He suggested having a supplementary pedal for the passenger who may wish to share the burden and co-pedal the rickshaw. Mansi from Jharkhand was equally empathetic. She noticed that while boarding the rickshaw, many old people and women wearing saris face a lot of difficulty because of the height. She suggested adding folding steps to the rickshaw. Survesh from Tamil Nadu has suggested sunglasses for the visually impaired. These would have an inbuilt camera to take images of people and record their names on first meetings. Next time they meet, the image processing software will recognise the person and announce the name to the blind person. Jeevan Sidharth from Tamil Nadu strongly disliked the burden that workers on construction sites have to face. He has suggested helmets with cushions inside. Ankita from Punjab and Himanshu from Gujarat have realised a very serious problem of modern times- increased stress among children. They have suggested a device to monitor mental stress while studying so that they can take a break at threshold levels. Ideally, there should not be any stress but the expectations of parents often rob children of their childhood. Given the large pervasive use of mobiles, isn’t it strange that we don’t have a device for transferring charge from one mobile to another? This is precisely what has been suggested by Ravi, Sanjay and Manoj from Haryana. A prototype is being developed and the patent filing is under process. Many people live in very small houses, where sparing a separate space, say even a square metre for a toilet pot, is not easy. People have to use common toilets. Shweta from Uttar Pradesh has suggested retractable toilets which can be folded into the wall like a closet after use and taken out when needed. It will need new fittings but will save space. Ektapreet from Punjab has suggested a new kind of painting brush in which, the same brush can have an arrangement for changing the number of bristles at the tip. This way, one does not need many brushes to paint. Rishab from J&K has suggested the use of solar panels embedded in a tent, which can turn into a raft when needed. The tents will keep campers warm in the night and cool in the scorching heat of the day. It is apparent from these ideas that our children are reacting constructively and imaginatively to problems we have learnt to live with.  Many of the problems are well recognised but frugal innovative solutions elude us. These grassroots innovations by children demonstrate how empathy leads to perception. A better perception leads to a better problem definition. A comprehensive problem definition leads to narrower classification, thus shredding the problem into smaller solvable parts. Creativity and perseverance can act upon these sub-problems, leading to a comprehensive solution. For their innovations, children will get a copy of the patent application filed in their respective names, apart from seeing the prototype, wherever feasible. The children are always advised not to make feasibility the enemy of desirability. The inverted model of innovation implies that children invent, engineers and designers fabricate, and companies commercialise. We welcome entre- preneurs, designers, fabricators and entrepreneurs to join hands with the Honey Bee Network and NIF so that the inverted model can be implemented fast. I hope that more institutions come forward to support the platform and the purpose, thereby passionately looking to increase the national and international performance of our creative children. Let’s not hesitate to make our children believe that their job is to imagine and invent. The rest of the steps in the value chain will be taken care of by the country. Impatient children are the greatest asset of our country. Anil Gupta
 
Volume No. Honey Bee 23(3) 3, 2012

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