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Address at the L-RAMP Awards Programme at IIT. Chennai
Chennai, Nov 28 2007
Updated on Nov 28 2007
Published bywww.abdulkalam.com
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National Prosperity through Innovation

I am delighted to participate in the L-RAMP innovation awards function at IIT Madras. I am happy that IIT and the rural innovation network in partnership with the Lamelson Foundation of USA are promoting grass roots innovation that can eventually create an impact in the lives of larger section of the society, particularly in the rural areas. I greet the award winners, innovators, collaborators, organizers and the distinguished guests. The L-RAMP?s Mission of scouting, spawning and sustaining grassroots innovations is indeed a laudable effort. I would like to talk to you on the topic "National Prosperity through Innovation".

Technical support

Grassroots innovators and traditional knowledge personnel whom we honour today demonstrate to all of us that everyone in the society has the capability to find solutions to its problems through his / her creativity. It is possible that all of them are not optimal solutions. They may need considerable improvement before they can become a mass producible item. But the very fact the solution has come gives us the confidence that we can find a better solution using the collective creativity of the people. This is where we need the support of scientific and research institutions both in the public and private sector to make the innovative products in substantial quantities for the benefit of large section of our society. What is essential is to ensure its marketability globally.

Value addition

To achieve this aim, I would recommend a model practiced by JETRO of Japan. Some of our States like Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have started working with them for development of marketable products based on the core competence of the region. For example, the members of Periyar PURA in Vallam have facilitated selection of 40 finalized products out of 123 products which will be produced by Periyar PURA with the support of JETRO for displaying in an exhibition at New Delhi during February 2007 and later in Japan during June 2007. The feedback from each exhibition has been used to improve the product so that the customer acceptability of the product gets enhanced. The technical consultancy support for improving the product has been provided by institutions like Periyar Maniammai College for Women. This type of localized support enables faster delivery of nationally and internationally acceptable products by our craftsmen and innovators. I would recommend the local banks to provide venture capital and loans to the prospective craftsmen innovative entrepreneurs in the region till the product goes through the acceptance cycle and becomes self-sustaining. In addition, the local entrepreneurs can hold the hand of the innovator and provide him entrepreneurial support so that he can be nurtured as a new entrepreneur for the region. This will enable creation of large number of employment generation in our rural sector. Hence, I would suggest L-RAMP to enlist the participation of other engineering colleges, polytechnics, banks and entrepreneurs in the vicinity of the village in different districts of Tamil Nadu. This type of connectivity in the local area can facilitate faster dissemination of the innovation to large section of the people and provide a catalytic lift to the entrepreneurial activity in the region.

Knowledge based employment

As you are aware, the government has recently introduced the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in large number of districts in the country. We have to think how we can make this employment as a knowledge based creative employment. The innovators in the rural setting can be mobilized to create a knowledge map of the best practices in the village. Here, I would like to describe few innovations which I have come across in our rural setting.

Technological innovations at grassroots

There are many problems that common people face at grassroots, some of which have remained unsolved for centuries. But the institutional scientists and technologists have not found much challenge in these. I would like to talk about these grassroots innovators in the villages who have solved the problems creatively based on the needs in different situation in rural areas. The National Innovation Foundation has been able to scout and spot such innovators and recognize them.

Amrut-bhai of Juna-gad district of Gujarat could not study beyond 4th class. His mother was a farm worker and so began his early working life. Slowly he learnt to make farm implements and set up a small workshop. He made many innovative devices such as wheat sowing box and bullock drawn groundnut digger. I want to share a small innovation that he did when the problem of women, drawing water from the well, was posed to him along with other innovators. Many of you know that water table has been going down in many parts of the country. Women in our villages, who have to draw water from the well, have to lift water in the bucket from much deeper level. While drawing water from 10 ? 15 meters depth women find it difficult to keep holding the rope continuously. Sometimes, the grip gets loosened and the bucket falls into the well. The bucket is retrieved from deep well, using a bunch of hooks attached to a rope. But we could not prevent bucket from falling into the well. By attaching a small lever over the pulley, Amrutbhai has solved this problem that helps millions of women. This lever presses against the rope and does not let it slide down. When one has to pull in the rope, it lifts itself without causing any difficulty. This small innovation, with huge social impact must be spread widely with technology. Most complex problems actually have simple solutions. It is essential for innovators to design and develop innovative products based on rural experience and their need.

Let me take another example of Kanak-das from Muri-gaon, 70 kms away from Guwahati in Assam. The common people have to use bicycle for commuting locally in the katcha roads. A normal cycle will obviously slow down, given the undulations. In Kanak?s cycle, the energy normally getting dissipated in the shock absorbing springs is transferred with the help of gears to the rear wheel. Kanak has made roads? differential heights work for him. Now the cycle runs faster. It is a platform technology and could be used in various means of transport. There are a large number of such innovators who have developed coconut-husking machine or have developed a hand pump in which 20 per cent water is compulsorily diverted to fill the animal drinking water troughs. Grassroots innovations are finding global market. Saidullah from Motihari in Bihar had developed Noor bicycle, which worked in water as well as on roads in 1970s. It took us so long to recognise him.

National Innovation Foundation gives 30 awards biennially. I have participated in two awards function and I have met a number of rural innovators, seen their products and interacted with them. There is a need to encourage these creative minds and convert their inventions into commercial products using technology. R & D institutions and production agencies must become partners. These products will improve the quality of life of the rural people and become an inspiration for other creative minds. This will be the greatest tribute to these grassroot innovators.

I am very happy to note that last 7 years NIF identified 65,000 innovative practices that led to filing of 102 patents and granting about 20 patents nationally and internationally. The message I was looking for: how many innovations reached the industry or applications or with technology induction it transform into a new product. I was expecting at least 100 products to reach the market through entrepreneurship, bank assistance.


As you are aware, India is in the mission of bringing prosperity and smiles to the one billion plus people of the country particularly uplifting and improving the quality of life of 220 million people who are at present living below poverty line. While the Indian GDP is growing at over 9% per annum, we need full participation of the people for achieving the required targets of our growth and realizing high national prosperity index. My definition of national prosperity index is equal to GDP including quality of life for all coupled with value system. It is essential to ensure that all the citizens are empowered with good quality of life encompassing nutritious food, good habitat, clean environment, affordable healthcare, quality education with value system and productive employment leading to the comprehensive qualitative development of the nation. Innovation is the capital through which we can achieve high level of national prosperity index. I am sure, the innovations being recognized by L-RAMP will lead to generation of large number of patents and production of commercially viable products by young entrepreneurs.

My greetings to the award winners and best wishes to all the members of IIT community for success in their mission of making innovation as a way of life for all citizens in the country.

May God bless you.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

By, Dr. APJ Abdulkalam

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3   kshitij sangalePosted OnMar 03 2011 19:54:58
sir, I am in std 7th in lourdes high school, kalyan. sir my question is that in u r book 'India 2020' u have highlited that india vill become the superpower till'2020' so in what streams in science vill India progress?

2   ravindra madhav kamathPosted OnFeb 09 2011 08:55:05
on 7 feb 2011 i have heard best 2 speech in ramakrisha mission ashrama belgaum & both speech was fantastic in my life sir i sware from today i will not support to corruption to politians and government officers i visited there along with my daughter studing in bba 2nd semester name reshma and my son vinayak studin in sslc sirplease send me your photograph as well as your autograph and books thank you sir

1   kalimPosted OnJun 15 2010 12:33:54
hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!1 sir

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