Monday, March 1, 2010

Ideas and Innovation

The Times of India carried an article which mentions some innovative ideas and projects that people have come up with. Some of the ideas which we liked a lot were as follows :

Much before Aamir Khan's Rancho made innovation a household word, these simple but powerful ideas were being quietly conceptualised and put to practice by enterprising Indians in various corners of the country.

Delhi-based entrepreneur Dipendra Manocha (42) lost his vision to a degenerative eye disease - retinitis pigmentosa - when he was in Class VI. But he did not give up his dream to read and get an education.But no matter how hard he tried, he found it humiliating that he had to be dependent on others' goodwill to meet his basic educational needs.

"I found my dependence on other people frustrating.And I knew it was not just I,there were thousands of people like me out there who needed help.Finally it reached a point where I decided to work towards enabling visually challenged people and empowering them to be independent," says Manocha.

Manocha's first tryst with a DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) computer,which is a talking digital book,convinced him that the blind could read.He quit his PhD in classical music in 2003,and set up the Saksham Trust to enable the blind.

Today,Manocha's efforts promise to provide a hand-held,digital camera-sized reader-cum-media player named Buddy.Students can load into the small machine their textbooks that they want to listen to.It can also record lectures and play music. Buddy costs just Rs 4,000 against the Rs 16,000 that a regular DAISY notebook costs.

Bangalore-based Umesh Malhotra's Hippocampus Reading Foundation focuses on underprivileged children who can't read books just because they can't afford them.And in a country like India,their numbers are vast.The foundation's speciality is a low-cost model for setting up and running libraries.Using the Malhotra model,a library can be set up on a one-time investment of Rs 5,000,recoverable in 15 months.The average cost of access per child works out to Rs 10,and it simultaneously provides livelihood to women who operate these libraries from home.Already 65,000 children derive benefit from the Hippocampus network.

Says Malthotra,"With this model,we have moved the onus of running libraries onto the community and not the government,which,in any case,has met with failure in popularising library culture.In a country like India,developmental success is largely dependent on community involvement." Malhotra has libraries in nine villages,130 government schools and 20 in slums in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Read about the other innovation projects here.

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