We have all heard about great Indian ideas such as the Jaipur Foot, the Dabbawalas of Mumbai, Amul, the face of India’s white revolution or Dr Devi Shetty’s innovative cardio care programmes across the world. But how many of us are familiar with the names of Mansukhbhai Prajapati or for that matter Mohammad Rozadeen?
Well, for the uninitiated in the world of Indian ideas, Mansukhbhai is a school dropout, who developed a refrigerator, sold under the name of Mitticool (literally mud cool).
The fridge costs about Rs 2,000/- and uses no power. The cooling is done through evaporation. The clay is baked at high temperatures and hence the handling of the fridge does not require any special care. The fridge can preserve fruits and vegetables for about five days and keeps milk from getting spoilt upto three days.
Mansukhbhai’s refrigerator reflects a combination of traditional knowledge and technology inputs, a modern contraption painted with a multi coloured ethnic design.
Over 1,000 Mitticool have been sold so far but this potter turned scientist entrepreneur regrets that he gets more orders from urban areas than villages, which was the motivation behind his invention. His creation was primarily for people living in villages who have zero or limited access to electricity.
Mansukhbhai has no marketing team but customers find him through newspapers, magazines and websites. His products have also reached the shores of USA, UK, Africa and Singapore.
The idea came to Mansukhbhai from the caption of a photograph which appeared in a newspaper following the massive earthquake of January 2001 in Gujarat. Showing a shattered pot, the caption read, “poor man’s fridge”. There and then, he decided to make a fridge that can be run by a poor family.
Over the years, Mansukhbhai has innovated and designed a water filter, a pressure cooker and a non-stick Tawa, all made of clay. His firm Mitticool Clay Creations has sold about one lakh products till date, fetching revenues around Rs 30 lakhs.
In faraway Bihar’s Motihari town, famous for Gandhiji`s successful experiment of satyagraha against the exploitation of indigo farmers, almost every tea stall flaunts a contraption named `JP Ustad Coffee Cooker` developed by Mohammad Rozadeen alias JP Ustad. The forty-seven-year-old gas welder modified a pressure cooker to incorporate a copper delivery pipe on its lid to transfer the steam generated inside to a container outside. In the process, he converted an ordinary cooker into a coffee-making machine.
The cost of `coffee-cooker` varies as per the size and requirements. A new 10 litre capacity cooker costs about INR2,000 while a modified old one costs INR750. Rozadeen has sold over 1,500 such `coffee-cookers` in Motihari and several other nearby towns.
Many such little known stories of path breaking innovations, of hope and success have been brought to light by publisher Shobit Arya in his compendium ‘The India Idea’. Arya, founder of Wisdom Tree, has himself done the photo research and editing with L K Sharma.
As intellectuals debate the Idea of India on every Independence and Republic Day, it is time to look at these ideas of India, which are changing the lives of many an Aam Admi and are yet junked as “jugaad” by the elite, who have no regrets about the billions spent under the garb of ‘research’.
Let us discover such hidden talents and highlight their contributions. Thank you Shobit!