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Change Makers of Kashmir turning challenges into opportunity for all

Change Makers of Kashmir turning challenges into opportunity for all

Handheld by the J&K government, a group of innovators have turned the challenges faced by the people of Kashmir into opportunities. Ground Report profiles some of their innovations that will make your life easier. 

Nasreena Begum, a married woman from Uri, Baramulla, wanted to set up a herb extraction and processing unit to produce natural medication for diarrhoea, joint pain, back pain, kidney ailments, and wounds, skin diseases, abdominal pain, fatty liver, diabetes, etc.

Nasreena belongs to the backward Gujjar community. A midwife and herbal healer by profession, she has amassed good knowledge of herbs in terms of identification and use from her elders and personal experience.

Her idea was to convert the raw materials available in abundance around her area, which is hemmed in by herb-rich forests of Uri tehsil, into value-based products in the form of powder, oil, paste, or aqueous solution extracted from herbs.

To transform her idea into an opportunity, she approached The Centre For Innovation Incubation And Entrepreneurship (CIIE) at the Institute of Technology, Zakura campus of the University Of Kashmir, in 2018 for an action-centric, value-based and experiential learning pedagogy.

The CIIE encourages entrepreneurial skills among citizens of J&K who are equipped with various skills to become self-sufficient. In the long run, it helps them to become independent job creators and reduce unemployment in the state. 

Nasreena’s dream of setting up a herbs processing unit started turning into reality after she got associated with CIIE in 2018. During these years, she has shared various practices related to human health and veterinary. She has also collected various bulk samples from local forests required for the validation of practices.

Her processing unit increases the shelf life of medicines. Today, she has realised her dream by buying the basic machinery required for herb processing, refining and packaging, which cost her only Rs 20250.

This is not the only success story of CIIE, which has a two-fold mission; First, the Centre has established a state-of-the-art technology innovation and incubation point for transforming innovative ideas into working products and business ventures.

Second, CIIE also aims to organise skill-based Entrepreneurship Development Programs (EDPs) for the students of IOT, and other youth across Kashmir, empowering them with industry-standard training.

The main objectives of CIIE include providing indigenous and innovative technologies involving scientists and innovators in problem-solving research, and facilitating technology transfer from mind to market, and facilitating inventors and innovators for IPR management, including support for filing patent applications within and outside India.

Prototype development is the centric goal for CIIE. The in-house prototyping facility, including technical expertise and equipment, is geared to develop prototypes of short-listed innovations. Through CIIE, the talent of youth is connected to the outside world. It inspires next and believes in the mantra of “Don’t Hesitate to Innovate.”

Some of the innovations of CIIE are smart key, self-cleaning chicken coop, smart room heater, starch-free rice cooker, electrical samovar, eco-friendly heating bukhari cum phone charger, fruit tree safety holder, the robotic hand with haptic feedback, wood carving machine, saffron drier equipment, EEG controlled wheelchair and much more.

CIIE has a firm belief in the ideology of Steven Johnson who says: “If you look at history, innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.”

Jehangir Hameed, Sajid Noor, Imran Nazir, Ariez Koul, and Azraw Hussain

For people with diabetes, Jehangir Hameed, Sajid Noor, Imran Nazir, Ariez Koul, and Azraw Hussain, all students of the Institute of Technology, have come out with Starch Free Rice Cooker.

Cookers available in the market these days prepare unhealthy rice without expelling starch which is harmful to diabetic patients. In addition, rice cookers are manual these days and work physically as they continuously need human intervention. Starch present in rice causes medical issues like obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndromes. 

Also, the present lot of rice cookers are non-customizable i.e., there is no option for the users to control cooking and its various operations. Besides, there is no response to the user while or after cooking rice. Furthermore, the cookers are not operated remotely or wirelessly that is, they need to be operated using physical mediums like buttons, etc. 

Also Read:  Sarbal Village: A hamlet in Kashmir waiting for development

The starch-free rice cooker cooks’ food on a single text message. The cooker is enabled to receive input commands from a mobile computing device to cook rice for a predetermined number of persons. The cooker gets rice and water from a pre-filled rice container and water container. A warm or cook button is enabled automatically for the cooking process. A temperature sensor senses the temperature rise, and at about 78 to 84 degrees centigrade, starch from the rice gets released, which is sucked out by the cooker automatically without any human intervention. 

The mobile computing device receives information throughout the cooking process, and after the food is prepared, the user acknowledges that rice preparation is completed. The functionality of the system will result in reduced chances of health issues caused by starch and ease of daily chores. 

Change Makers of Kashmir

Shazia

For people who like to consume their tea from piping hot samovars, Shazia Jan, 29, has modified the traditional samovar to make it eco-friendly without much energy wastage.  

Shazia hails from a middle-class family in one of the backward villages Chaki-Baqwam of tehsil Dooru in Anantnag, where most people earn their livelihood from agriculture and raising livestock. The village falls close to Pir Panjal Mountains, due to which it experiences heavy snowfall during winters. People have built their houses in such a way that snowfall has no effect on them. They store eatables and other items of daily consumption in advance before the advent of winter.

Shazia has studied up to Class 12. Due to economic constraints, she could not continue her studies. From childhood, she was interested in making innovative gadgets, repairing electric gadgets like electric switches, torches, radio sets, etc.

Change Makers of Kashmir

Shazia modified the traditional Kashmiri samovar by inserting a curved, LPG-powered burner inside the cylindrical-shaped container for charcoal. She has also added support to the rim of the samovar so that one can place a container on the samovar for cooking purposes. The basic structure of the samovar remains the same, but the labour and time involved in handling and preparation of tea get reduced drastically.

Change Makers of Kashmir

The gas samovar takes only 10 to 15 minutes to serve 25 cups of tea (against 40-45 minutes doing it traditionally). Hence, not only does she save precious time but a lot of human effort as well without producing ash. Moreover, extra heat which gets wasted in traditional samovars can also be utilised in this innovative gadget for other preparations. While the tea gets prepared inside the samovar, one can place an extra utensil on the external supports and boil water or milk, make Rotis, etc. 

Basit, Faizan, Nadeem, Rashid, and Tafazul

Basit, Faizan, Nadeem, Rashid, and Tafazul burned the midnight oil to work on modifying the design and fabrication of manually operated Precision Saffron Corm Planter in order to overcome the problem of spacing, make farming more attractive and interesting. 

Change Makers of Kashmir

The prototype of the planter comes across as very cheap, easily affordable, and requires less maintenance and lesser labour. This planter is useful for small and marginal farmers who cannot afford large machinery and can be used in fields where large machinery is unstable. 

Change Makers of Kashmir

When the planter moves in the field, the drive wheels rotate due to its contact with the soil. The two furrow openers make channels with a depth of 15 cm, and the calibrated bucket elevators drop corms through a corm tube, which ensures proper spacing. The two covering devices or furrow closers, which are placed at the surface level in the backside, converge the soil back and fill the channel. 

The author is an engineering student, and she can be reached at kkhaz0007@gmail.com

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