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Science in

Combating Poverty

Rural India’s Innovations

Lead India: Choosing the


Future Leader of India

Making ICT work for the


Common Man

ISRO in Human
Development

Some Inconvenient Questions


for India’s NGO Movement
Mr Anbumani Ramdoss, Minister for
Health, Government of India, patting a
SCOPE’S World Cycle Tour volunteer, a
member of SCOPE’S anti-tobacco
campaign team
TEAM 3
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Catalyst
FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
EDITORIAL TEAM
Dr. Bhamy V. Shenoy
Chief Editor
An insight into complex problems of development chiefeditor@afhd.org
and an attempt to provide solutions
Ms. Bharati Kalasapudi
MISSION Ms. Sandhya Rawal
Mr. Lakshman Kalasapudi
To present people, ideas, news and views periodically to Mr. Ankit Gupta
readers to promote networking among NGOs; Ms. Aparana Daniel
Ms. Padmaja Ayyagari
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movement that can promote sustainable
development and best practices; Dr. Srinivasa Rao
Editor
To disseminate information on the NGO movement to editor@afhd.org
improve communication that can, in turn, catalyze
human development; ADVISORY BOARD
Dr. Thomas Abraham
To provide a platform for all concerned with Dr. Nirupam Bajpai
sustainable development to catalyze the process Dr. Suri Sehgal
of human development. Mr. M. Chittaranjan
Dr. Rao V.B.J. Chelikani

Published by: EDITORIAL BOARD


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HIGHLIGHTS OF EARLIER ISSUES OF Catalyst
FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

HIGHLIGHTS OF JANUARY '06 ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS OF MARCH '07 ISSUE


Scaling up Primary Education Safe Drinking water in
Services in Rural India Villages
Healthcare in India Water Wars: National
Water Management in 21st Problems from a
Century - Policy and Planning Regional Perspective
Food and Nutrition Through Rain Centre in Chennai,
Value Addition to Agri India
Resources Get Real, Coke: Water
Scaling up Primary Health Rights Protest
Services in Rural India Promoting Effective Waste
Cross-Fertilization Needed Management: The Clean
Between Universities & Himalaya Initiative
Scientific Labs Water Bond For Safe
Balasakhi - A Village Voice Drinking Water
Need for a Catalyst

HIGHLIGHTS OF OCTOBER '06 ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS OF JUNE '07 ISSUE


Better Understanding of
The Evolving Role of NGOs in Corporate Social Responsiblity
Poverty Alleviation
CSR to Society’s
Mann Deshi Sahakari Bank -
A boon for Women Advantage or Corporates’?
Catalyst Salutes Ashoka 2007 CSR: Interesting
Fellows Revelations from a Survey
Highway Rescue Project Corporate Social
Magsaysay Award for Arvind Responsibility: Two
Kejriwal Exemplary Corporations
Best Visionaries Moving into Cit- PM’s Advice to Corporates
izen Sector Fall of an NGO Titan
SKOLL Foundation
Biodiversity for
Awards 2006
Why Do We Need Social Entrepreneurs ? Development

HIGHLIGHTS OF JANUARY '07 ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS OF OCTOBER '07 ISSUE


Non-Resident Indians' Share and Care Foundation
contributions - Answering Excellence in Education
a Call to Action One Acre Wonder
Eliminating Elephantiasis and An Experiment in Social
Waterborne Diseases Entrepreneurship
Association for India's National Policy on
Development - Improving Voluntary Sector
Literacy in Rural India Who Can Fix Poverty?
Leading India toward Millenni- Sangopita: A Shelter for the
um Development Goals Care of Special Children
How NRIs Can Help in Poverty Need for a New
Alleviation Development Paradigm
Is Mega Philanthropy Going to Make a Difference? Learning Journey
Nobel Peace Prize 2006 - Muhammad Yunus Choosing the Type of NPOs
Indian National Development Congress NGOs for Development
6 CONTENTS
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Science in Lead India: Choosing the


Combating Rural India’s Innovations Future Leader of India
Poverty...10 Lakshman Kalasapudi...25 ... 30, 31

Preface — Dr. Bhamy V. Shenoy ...7 The Varsha Raingun ...26 Swaminathan Leads a
New Movement ...41
Science: A Tool for Social ReMeDi - Rural Health
Transformation Diagnostic Innovation ...27 Pedal Power Technology
— Dr. Ch. Mohan Rao...9 — Dr. Narendra Shah...46
Indian Science Critical to Faster Barefoot College ...28, 29
Human Development Models of Sustainable
Views of prominent people ...12, 13 Building Technologies Technology — D.K. Mishra...48, 49
to help Poor — Ankit Gupta...32
How Ghosts Can be Decanted A Nano-Solution to A
from Water A Lively Discussion on Mega Problem
— Prof. A. Ramachandraiah...14 Sustainable Development ...34 — D. Balasubramanian... 50
Solar Lanterns to Replace
Kerosene Lamps ...15 , 16 Eradication of Corruption Some Inconvenient Questions for
Accelerates Development India’s NGO Movement
Global Awareness to Eliminate — Kris Dev... 35 — Bhamy V. Shenoy...52, 53
Kerosene Lighting Sehgal Foundation gets
— D.T. Barki...17 Best Water NGO Award ...37 Informal Workers Benefit from
Solar Expo Showcases NIDAN ...54
Innovations India’s Millions Denied Access
— Narayan Ayyagari...19 to Modern Energy Profile of Dr. M.P. Parameswaran
— UNDP Report...38 ...55
the tele.graam ...20
Energy pie chart & Indian Science: Profile of D.T. Barki ...56
To Go Solar or Not ?
Time to be Innovative ...39
— Dr. Satyanarayana Gavarasana...21, 22
Can Scientists do More
Winners of Rural Making ICT work for the for Development?
Innovation Fund ...23, 24 Common Man — Chandrasekhar..40 — Dr. Srinivasa Rao...58

Institute of Rural Research and ISRO in Human Development Informal Workers Benefit
Development — Y. Harshavardhana Rao, from NIDAN ...52
— Pooja O. Murada... 36 and Lahary Ravuri... 43, 44, 45
PREFACE 7
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

W
E are happy to bring this special issue of Catalyst during the 95th Indian Science
Congress. We are taking this opportunity to reflect with you on how together we
can help India's poor. Dr. Rao has given a startling comparison of the productivity of
Indian scientific institutions in his article. According to him, India with more than a billion peo-
ple and 129,000 scientists is investing about $21 billion a year (on ppp basis). But India is able
to develop only about 1000 patents a year.

It is more than likely that NRIs graduated by Indian educational institutions may be produc-
ing far more patents than their counterparts in India. Why do we have such a deplorable sit-
uation in India? Why has the scientific community failed to develop a strong NGO movement
to question this status quo when we have hundreds of NGOs for every conceivable subject in
India? Why do we continue to neglect the exodus of our scientists and technologists and triv-
ialie it by stating that the brain drain is better than a brain in the drain? What are we doing
to draw on the brain bank to solve the low productivity in educational institutions?

What should be done to attract bright students to take up science? the Knowledge Commis-
sion has recommended to start 30 central universities to overcome this problem. When the
existing premier institutions like IITs, and IISc are finding it difficult to recruit outstanding pro-
fessors, where is India going to find the qualified people for these universities? In addition,
there is also the social and political controversy of reservation which will make this problem
even more complex.

During every Indian Science Congress, Prime Ministers make the usual speeches asking the
scientific community to take up the problems affecting the common man. But we all know
that such exhortations are conveniently forgotten first by the political class then by bureau-
cracy, and finally by the scientists. Whether it the natural science or social science faculties,
both have failed to identify the basic problems affecting India's development.

No insightful research is being conducted to find the level of poverty in India determined by
the outmoded concept based on calories), the level of literacy (still based on signature sign-
ing), ways to fight caste discrimination, the reasons for the failure of quota system to help the
downtrodden, reasons for failure of socialistic economic system to solve the problem of pover-
ty, etc. In the case of natural sciences, our agricultural scientists have failed to assist the farm-
ers to improve productivity. India used to have high levels of agricultural yields without using
chemical fertilizers. Why have scientists failed to promote natural farming? Why have they
failed to anticipate the water and energy crises and find solutions for them? Why have they
failed to unlock the wisdom in Indian system of medicine based on herbs, and yoga?

Even when we consider IT and BT, where India is considered as a leader in business outsourc-
ing, these two technologies have singularly failed to help the poor. In fact, the increasing
income disparity and attraction of the better educated towards these sectors has given rise to
little understood Dutch Disease which is affecting the rest of economy. We will not be over-
stating the situation if we conclude that scientific community has failed India's poor despite
the resources allocated to them so far. Without the help of scientists it is just not possible to
solve poverty problem. We need creative and insightful strategies to improve the productivi-
ty on a war footing. We are hoping this year's science congress will come with such strate-
gies.

Dr. Bhamy V. Shenoy


8 SCIENCE
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

GENERAL PRESIDENT'S
MESSAGE

W
ELCOME to the beautiful mountain-sea interface city of Visakha-
patnam and to the famous Andhra University campus, a centre of
excellence for higher education. The university received benevo-
lent nurturing of peerless teachers and educators like Dr. C.R.Reddy,
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and Dr. Suri Bhagavantham. The institution
that attracted icons of administration, science, and technology, Dr. V.S.Krish-
na, Prof. Jnanananda, Prof. B.R.Rao and Prof. Koteswaram, to mention a
few, is hosting the 95th session of the Indian Science Congress during
03-07 January, 2008.

The Indian Science Congress and its Organizing Committee feel greatly hon-
oured by the gesture of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, With best wishes,
Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy, in consenting to be the Chief Patron. The focal
theme of the Congress, "Knowledge Based Society using Environmentally
Sustainable Science & Technology", is timely and relevant to the current glob-
al scenario of conflict between 'Development' and 'Environment'. India, with
its rich cultural and knowledge heritage, has chosen the right path of promot-
ing excellence in science and technology since the days of Pandit Jawaharlal
Nehru. Right now the major task before the country is to take steps to link
with action, which is exactly what has been happening under the leadership
of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singhji. The current Science Congress
addresses issues and phenomena relating to contemporary global and nation-
al interests and important subjects like Space, Nanoscience, Evergreen Revo- Prof. RAMAMURTHI
lution, Climate Change, Global Warming, Renewable Energy, Health Securi- RALLAPALLI
ty, Traditional Knowledge, Ethno Medicine and Rural Empowerment through
Knowledge connectivity. Some innovative areas receiving focus for the first General President, ISCA
time are Defense Studies and Technologies, Vedic Science and Physics and (2007-08), ISRO Hon.
Vedanta. Several eminent scholars like, Prof. C.N.R.Rao, Prof. M.G.K.Menon, Visiting Scientist
Prof. M.S.Swaminathan, Prof. U.R.Rao, Prof. T.Ramasami and Dr. (Mrs). Former Vice-Chancellor,
Manju Sharma from our country and Nobel Laureates, Dr. George Smoot, INSA Senior Scientist,
Dr. Robert Curl Jr, Dr. Paul Nurse, and Dr. Roger Kornberg, have consented Department of Fishery
to speak at the Congress. Science and
Aquaculture, Sri
As General President of the Indian Science Congress, I have great pleasure in Venkateswara University,
extending a cordial welcome to all the delegates to the Congress. I wish them Tirupati - 517502, A.P.
a very memorable stay in Visakhapatnam which offers the very best of
knowledge and recreational opportunities.
SCIENCE 9
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

SCIENCE:
A Tool for Social Transformation
DR Ch. MOHAN RAO
Science and technology will drive our country both in improving quality
of life of its population as well as its mindset.

S
CIENCE is a proven tool for social transformation. "pyramid model"* developed for eye care by Dr. G.N.Rao
What can scientists do to catalyse the process of are necessary. There is a pleasure in solving small issues.
human development in our country? Scientists have By using existing knowledge, we could develop a DNA-
chosen science because of their innate desire and the based diagnostic chip for eye infections. This process did
intellectual satisfaction. They should pursue the line of not involve much of research; it was mostly a develop-
activity that interests them most. However, in addition to mental activity. The product, however, has turned out to
curiosity-driven basic research, a large number of scien- be extremely useful, and all the participants are very sat-
tists can use the existing knowledge and tools to develop isfied with the outcome.
ways that can directly contribute to human welfare.
One of the primary requirements for sustained contri-
Science has helped achieve incredible improvements in butions by the manufacturing sector is quality assurance
human development and quality of life. Scientists have as was proved in Japan. International markets require a set
brought about a green revolution enhancing food produc- of parameters to be monitored for a specific product. A
tion significantly. Communication has reached every nook lack of this is severely compromising our market share.
and corner of India. Cell phones are everywhere. The Scientists can develop tools to monitor quality in many
satellite instructional telvision experiment (SITE) demon- areas including pharma, natural products, processed food
strated how well India could use the advanced technolo- etc. These will lead to products that are marketable, not
gy for the socio-economic needs. Our space programme necessarily "absolutely new- never before" products. India
has become self-sufficient. Significant developments have has the capability to produce such novel and high-tech
been registered in our defence reasearch. Iron and steel, products. We should look at the possibilities in software-
cement, automobiles, computers, and information tech- products (not just services), new drugs, high-tech com-
nology have seen giant strides. In my opinion, scientists, munication and computation systems, aerospace and
technologists and industrialists have done their part automobile industry. Higher GDP and appropriate sharing
exceedingly well and contributed to the development of systems should contribute to the overall human develop-
the nation. ment.

Small innovations can go a long way. Waterpurification, Science and technology will drive our country both in
small handheld sensors to detect pathogens and pollu- improving quality of life of its population as well as its
tants in water; non-polluting, renewable energy; simple mindset. Hopefully our country can be free of the shackles
ways of balancing the nutrition; innovations in imparting of superstitions and everyone, regardless of religion, caste,
education; protection from vectors such as mosquitoes are or gender, can get equal access to education, health and
some areas for immediate consideration. Community par- opportunity for growth, success and happiness.
ticipation is very important to achieve the desired goals. *Community Eye Health Journal (2005)
Models involving rural populations, comparable to the 18 (54), pps61-s62

Dr Ch. Mohan Rao is the Deputy Director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular
Biology in Hyderabad. He obtained MSc and PhD in Chemistry. A fellow of the
Indian National Science Academy, Indian Academy of Science, National Academy of
Science, India and Andhra Pradesh Academy of Science, he combines molecular
biological and biophysical approaches to address problems of biophysical interest.
A Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar and Ranbaxy Award winner, Dr Mohan Rao is the
Honorary President of Jana Vignana Vedika
10 SCIENCE
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Science in Combating Poverty


nature EDITORIAL ON POVERTY AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Many 'developing' countries are much more developed than some people think. Their rapid
progress should inspire scientists and their institutions to do more to confront global poverty.

T
O those living in comfort in the affluent parts of the Extracting and collating vast amounts of data on poverty,
world, the stark reality behind the word poverty is he has created stunning visualizations that vividly dispel
difficult to comprehend. Yet it is more incomprehen- many preconceived ideas about poverty (see
sible that in the twenty-first century, hundreds of millions <http://tinyurl.com/34bsyr>http://tinyurl.com
of people are so poor that their lives amount to little more /34bsyr).
than a daily struggle to survive. Faced by such desperate
circumstances, the affluent often succumb to an over- This is an example of how science can help to frame the
whelming sense of impotence. But defeatism would be a problems properly. Aid agencies must similarly pay more
mistake: the battle against poverty can be won, and sci- attention to evaluating the effectiveness of resource allo-
ence can help. cations and interventions. Too often in the past, advocacy
of policies has been based on the latest
Looking at the powerhouse of medical economic theory in fashion, rather than on
research that is the US National Institutes hard evidence. Better data on poverty indi-
of Health (NIH), it is difficult to imagine cators, in particular at the subnational level,
that it began life 120 years ago in a small are also needed if we are to assess the true
attic room in the Marine Hospital Service effects of the interventions designed to
on Staten Island, New York. Joseph Kiny- meet the UN Millennium Development
oun's one-man 'laboratory of hygiene', Goals of halving poverty by 2015
the first federal disease lab, was created (see<http://www.nature.com/doifind-
to identify the causes of several infectious er/10.1038/446347a> Nature 446,
diseases that at the time were responsible 347; 2007).
for high mortality in the United States.
The rest is history. In one welcome initiative, the World
Bank has embraced an innovative approach
That concept of time is vital to under- to evaluation. Pioneered at the Mas-
standing poverty. In 1915, the United States resembled sachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge,
India today on several poverty indicators, from child mor- it borrows the techniques of randomized trials
tality to life expectancy, and Mexico has now achieved used in medicine to assess the impact of health and
standards of human development equivalent on some education initiatives, such as bed nets for malaria,
scores to Sweden in the 1950s. Many of the countries and the factors that affect their success (see
labelled as 'Third World' are in fact well along the same <http://www.nature.com/news/2007/071024/full/4
trajectory to prosperity as today's wealthy nations. Yet 49957a.html> page 957).
growing prosperity means that new technologies are
needed even more urgently, because as more countries But fighting poverty more effectively demands a
escape the shackles of poverty, demand for energy, water change of culture not only in aid agencies but also in
and other resources will exacerbate the problems, such as academia, in particular to bridge the gap between basic
climate change, that face our planet. research and the development of drugs and vaccines for
neglected diseases. The scientific community's reward
Exploded myths structures, excessively focused on papers and patents,
It is essential that the myths about poverty are need to encourage efforts to use science to generate tan-
debunked for policy-makers. Few scientists have done gible benefits - not least in alleviating poverty and its
more in this regard than Hans Rosling, a global-health impacts.
researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
SCIENCE 11
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Measured response ment Goals, the leaders of academic institutions should


Only a few universities have, for example, created be asking themselves how their organizations can do
centres for biomedical translational research, evaluated more to combat poverty and improve global health.
not by the usual metrics but by their results, much as a The eight goals themselves are ambitious to say the
company assesses project performance. Far more could least. It will be a tall order to halve extreme poverty,
be done along these lines in agriculture, energy and roll back child mortality and provide universal primary
health. education, all by 2015.

That said, there are encouraging signs that decades But many previously impoverished countries are now
of focus on wealth creation are slowly giving way to a well on their way to enjoying levels of child mortality,
greater social conscience. Technology-transfer offices longevity and health comparable to those of the richest
at the NIH and many universities, for example, are countries. That should encourage scientists to help
increasingly waking up to the importance of making speed up the progress of those nations that still have
their patents freely available to groups developing far to go - and to strengthen their scientific infrastruc-
technologies for use in poor countries (see ture. The gleaming, state-of-the art Manhiça Health
<http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/449158a> Nature 449, Research Center near Maputo in Mozambique, for
158-159; 2007). example, may seem incongruous with the immediate
disease and misery on its doorstep. Yet in a few
At a time when many sectors of society are actively decades it may be remembered as that nation's Staten
engaged in working towards the Millennium Develop- Island lab.

(Reproduced with permission: 25th October 2007 issue of nature, the international journal of science)

POVERTY AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT


T
HE Global Theme Issue In the Global Theme
on Poverty and Human Issue, science journals
Development, orga- throughout the world
nized in October last by the published articles on
Council of Science Editors poverty and human
(CSE), stimulated world-wide interest to raise awareness, development. Some 235 science journals from 37
prompt research in poverty and human development, developed and developing countries published more
and disseminate the results of the research widely. then 750 articles representing all regions of the
world. Some journals dedicated an entire issue to
The Council of Science Editors was set up half-a-centu- the subject of poverty and human development,
ry ago in the name of Council of Biology Editors (CBE). others published a few papers, and a few others
CBE became CSE in the year 2000. The mission of CSE is published an editorial. Almost 1000 papers were
to promote excellence in the communication of scientific being published in the Global Theme Issue.
information. http://biology.plosjournals.org/
12 SCIENCE
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Indian Science Critical to


Faster Human Development
Scientists and administrators across India were asked to comment on the role of
scientists in the accelerating human development in India.

F IRST of all, scientists should aim to improve common


man's life. To fulfill the mission, they should concentrate
on the commoner’s needs and proceed in that direction.
I NDIAN science needs to introduce practical
and skill-based learning as part of science
teaching. Our science teaching is far removed
Knowledge is an ocean; no one can swim perfectly in it. from reality and does not inculcate scientific
temperament.
In the past all experiments were confined only to labs. The Technology involving several branches of sci-
importance of lab-to-land concept has been realised, for ence and engineering has to be an integral part
example, in agricultural experiments. Our defense is of science teaching. The role and importance of
becoming stronger day by day due to invention of different mathematics should be re-emphasised rather
weapons including nuclear ones. Why not do it in other sec- than creating two streams called maths and biol-
tors also ? ogy Prof Anil Gupta of IIM Ahmedabad and
vice chairman of the National Innovation Foun-
Our scientists are doing a good job in Space Science. We dation has recorded over 65000 innovations in
are launching satellites by using Indian technology proving the rural and urban areas throughout India and
our technology has improved vastly. So, balanced develop- protected their IPR.Some of these innovations
ment should be maintained so that we move forward should become part of school and college text
towards further development. books. The late Dr Yellapragada SubbaRow
should be made an icon of Indian science as he
Illiteracy and population growth are hurdles in develop- was involved in discovering ten drugs in the
ment. If these are overcome, then the pace of development world. We need to identify inspiring teachers,
will automatically go up. These issues need to be addressed give them special facilities, and pay them high
effectively. Scientists should tackle these problems and salaries. Rather than taking all the decisions in
actively participate in the developmental activities directly Delhi, we need to decentralize decision-making.
and indirectly.
PROF L. VENUGOPAL REDDY PROF. KRISHNAMURTHY KANNAN,
Vice-Chancellor, Andhra University, Vice Chancellor,
Nagaland University, Kohima
Visakhapatnam.
drkrishnamoorthy@gmail.com

I NDIAN science can help in human development in much PROF. S.V.S. CHAUHAN,
better way if the resources are pooled and used honest-
Professor Emeritus, Department of Botany, School of
ly for the purpose. Indian science can improve the agricul-
Life Sciences,
tural output to feed more people. I am sorry to say Indian Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, Khandari Campus,
scientists are not working to their full potential. They only Agra-282 002:
should start working harder for development and not for <mailto:svs250@rediffmail.com>
their personal advancement. svs250@rediffmail.com
SCIENCE 13
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

I NDIAN science has made some contribution to human


development but has fallen short of expectations. While
individuals have made a mark, institutional achievements
H UMAN development, poverty eradication and dis-
ease prevention are all dependent on the develop-
ment of science and technology. Since we live in a
have not been significant in academic or industrial circles, in global village with intense competition among nations,
their contribution to the reduction of human misery in back- the quality of Indian science must be as good, if not
ward regions. CSIR, ICAR and ICMR, DRDO, Department better, than science practiced by industrial countries.
of Atomic Energy, Electronics, Space, Ocean Development,
Environment and Forests have reservoir of scientific talent, This did not happen in the past mainly because the
respectable on many counts, yet unable to make an impact Indian patent laws did not recognize product patents.
on the minimum needs of the vast majority of people in the So, very few innovations occurred with regard to new
rural areas. The scientists need to prioritise their tasks and product development.
link them to the schemes of interest and application to Indi-
an society for better ambience, cleaner water, health foods, The good news is that Indian patent laws have been
and better habitations and the like. changed under the TRIPS mandate. India can look for-
ward to generation of new and major intellectual prop-
Some individual scientists have functioned in a mission erty that would lead to economic and industrial devel-
mode and made a qualitative difference to the lives of ordi- opment in India to alleviate poverty and help in human
nary people. CSIR under Dr. Y. Nayudamma tried to trans- development.
late the results of research in its various laboratories into
action. Dr. M.S. Swaminathan's efforts to take the agricul- PROF. ANANDA CHAKRAVARTHY
tural research from the labs of ICAR to the far-flung fields Distinguished University Professor
have been more successful. Dr. Abdul Kalam's efforts to University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago
open up the DRDO laboratories to applied research in pseudomo@uic.edu
industry and to make them relevant to the socially and
physically handicapped like research in Engineering Plastics,
for artificial limbs for the lame - need to be emulated.

Scientists claim to be research-oriented, but they have


created a vast scientific bureaucracy with its own game
rules for stifling differences in opinion. The ego clashes
B ASICALLY, the routine techniques used by the rural
population can be made simple and economical to
develop the human resource. These technologies will
within the science community have harmed the develop- become the livelihood for common man. Commitment
ment of scientific temper and result oriented research. of the highest order and its implementation are essen-
Indian scientists and technologists have not yet learned to tial for Indian scientists to accelerate India's human
work as a team and develop a multi-disciplinary approach development.
to problem-solving. DR. PRAKASH V. DIWAN,
MR. V.K. SRINIVASAN Project Director
(IAS-Retd) National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and
Research, (NIPER), Hyderabad
diwanpv@gmail.com


A small body of determined spirits fired by

an unquenchable faith in their mission
can alter the course of history

— Mahatma Gandhi
14 SCIENCE
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

How ‘Ghosts’ can be Decanted from Water


SCIENCE CAN AWAKEN THE SUPERSTITIOUS
PROF. A. RAMACHANDRAIAH
Empowering people with knowledge is the best way to improve the lives of our population.
Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) serves as a dynamic and coherent bridge
between the scientific community and the general public.

S
OME of the districts in the Telangana region of of phenolphthalein were not ghosts. Then they cut and
Andhra Pradesh are less developed than others. The squeezed a lemon into the tumbler and the people were
percentage of literacy is abysmally low. Mandalagu- amazed again at the decolourisation.
dem in Warangal District has about 1000 households
with an elementary school and no municipal water sup- Prof. K. Laxma Reddy, present on the occasion, along
ply. Villagers fetch water from a common well in the vil- with other JVV volunteers, explained to the villagers that
lage. Rain water serpentines all over the dirty streets it was only the chemical phenomena that caused varia-
causing epidemics after every rain. Just as in previous tions in the characteristics of the drinking water and that
years, scores of villagers fell ill in 2005 and were affected by suitable counter chemical methods, it would be pos-
by diarrhea. The villagers adopted their usual local super- sible to render the water potable. The activists of JVV
natural diagnostic system and belived that the well water ignited a longish pyre made of coal and walked over the
was haunted by ghosts and whosoever fetched water fire to the dismay of the villagers. They told them that
from the well would fall victim. While villagers conducted they did not have any supernatural powers nor did they
many rituals and offered animal sacrifices to get rid of the believe in the existence of ghosts. When they explained
ghosts, the poor village women had no escape from to the villagers how such fire-walking was possible on
walking more than ten kms to get drinking water. the basis of heat conduction, action-time, anatomy of
the foot soles and the emergence of water-vapour phase
The news about the well water of Mandalagudem between the sole and the fire-solids, many boys and girls
"being haunted by ghosts" spread like wildfire and natu- walked over the fire in the way JVV volunteers did and
rally hit the headlines in the popular dailies. No one ques- believed what they said.
tioned how water could be haunted by ghosts ! It was
the evening of October 29, 2005. All the villagers Next day the well water was chlorinated and the vil-
assembled at the school premises. Two Jana Vignana lagers started fetching water from their own village well.
Vedika (JVV) members, Ramesh and Manohar, performed The women were saved from toiling to fetch water from
a magic show and told the villagers about the truth long distances. Reason won over superstition. A few
behind the "miracle." months later, the villagers formed a JVV unit there and
its artists performed a playlet entitled 'Neeti Dayyam
One simple magical item caught the imagination of the Vadilindi' (water cleansed of ghost) at a state level JVV
villagers. The JVV members put water in a transparent event.
glass tumbler and to it added a few drops of ammonium
hydroxide. When they added another few drops of This is one example of how simple science can make a
colourless phenolphthalein, the water in the tumbler difference to people's lives. JVV has been carrying out
turned suddenly pink to the utter disbelief of the audi- several such activities over the years since its inception in
ence. The performers said to the villagers that the drops February 1988 (on National Science Day).

Prof. A Ramachandraiah is a Professor of Chemistry at the National Institute of


Technology in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh. He has been actively associated with Jana
Vignana Vedika, a state-level organization, to popularise science. Former president of
JVV, he is currently the convener of science & technology communication wing of the
organization. He is also the editor of Chekumuki, a children's science magazine in Telugu.
SOLAR 15
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Solar Lanterns
to Replace Kerosene Lamps
NEST (Noble Energy Solar Technologies Ltd) is a private company based in Hyderabad,
India which was set up to develop a very small solar lantern, the 'Aishwarya®,'
as a safe substitute for the kerosene wick lamp.

I
T is estimated that in India alone, about 100 million need for kerosene lamps in poor households. The
households use kerosene wick lamps as their main lantern design and manufacturing systems were devel-
source of light. Such lamps produce poor quality oped over a period of three years, and commercial pro-
light and unhealthy fumes and present a serious fire duction started in 2001. Production has grown steadily
risk particularly when used in thatched homes. Fluores- from a total of 2001-02 to a current production of over
cent lamps with batteries recharged using solar photo- 5,000 per month. Over 65,000 lanterns have been
voltaics (PV) can provide much better quality and safer produced and distributed during the past five years.
light, but the cost of such a lantern can be prohibitive. NEST is managed by a board of directors, and current-
ly employs fifteen people at its office and workshop in
NEST have brought down this cost by making a PV Secunderabad. A dedicated solar module manufactur-
lantern, small and light-weight, with strict attention to ing plant in Bangalore runs with about seven employ-
quality of manufacture. By working closely with a net- ees. The annual turnover in 2004-5 was about Rs 2
work of dealers and sub-dealers, crores mostly (about 85%) from the
through whom they provide credit, sale of Aishwarya PV lanterns.
spares and support, NEST has
enabled very poor people in the Technology
most remote villages to buy PV NEST set out to develop a PV-
lanterns without subsidies. Over powered lantern of a similar size to
75% of Aishwarya lanterns pro- a simple kerosene lamp. It was to be
duced by NEST have been sold in this light weight so that it can easily be
way, throughout the states of carried even by children, affordable
Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. by the poorest households who
have no other alternative but
The Ashden judges commended kerosene, and attractive as a con-
NEST for developing an attractive sumer product. They designed the
and high-quality lantern specifically lantern to allow for easy replace-
for the poorest households and set- ment of key parts rather than
ting up a financial and service struc- repair.
ture which enables such households to purchase with-
out subsidy and receive proper after-sales support. The lanterns are assembled at the NEST workshop in
These achievements were made possible by effective Secunderabad. Rigorous attention is paid to quality,
management within NEST, their active links with sub- with checks on all individual components and on the
contractors, and their dealership network. finished lanterns. The lantern is packed as a single item
in a box, so that it can be sold like any other consumer
The Award-winning organisation product. The name 'Aishwarya®' was chosen to
NEST was set up by the current Managing Director, emphasise both the intelligence and aesthetic appeal of
Mr DT Barki, in 1998. He had previously followed a the lantern! In Sanskrit 'Aishwarya' means 'fortune.'
successful career in the PV industry in India. However,
having seen a baby die in a house fire caused by a There are many ongoing developments in the global
kerosene lamp when he was a child, Mr Barki had a markets for PV and lighting products, and NEST is
longstanding wish to use his expertise to eliminate the keenly aware of these. One concern is the shortage of
16 SOLAR
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

silicon which is the main material for making PV cells order to allow the dealers to give free
and modules. NEST is taking part in joint ventures to credit, but this is the only form of sub-
process silicon and also to produce amorphous silicon sidy offered. Because the sub-dealers
PV modules which require much less silicon than their know their individual customers, they
current multicrystalline modules. NEST has already are able to collect regular payments
signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a even from people who do not have a
Japanese silicon company to work jointly on break- formal address. Customers often need
through polysilicon technology to overcome the silicon to extend their repayment period, but
feedstock problem the world is facing today. Light- the overall track record of repayment
emitting-diodes (LEDs) are increasingly used for small is very good with only about 3-4%
scale lighting, and NEST is keeping a watch on this defaulting on payments.
technology to judge when it might be more appropri-
ate than CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps). A kerosene wick lamp used in a home for 3 hours per
night would burn about 7 litres of kerosene per month,
How users pay at a cost of 10 rupees per litre with government sub-
NEST specifically intended the Aishwarya lamp to be sidy. But kerosene is seldom available at this subsidised
sold as an unsub- rate to the poor; they
sidised, commercial often buy it at a very
product in very high black market
remote, poor vil- rate of around 20-25
lages, and about rupees per litre or 70
75% of their pro- rupees per month.
duction to date has Thus the lamp pays
been sold . In order for itself from savings
to achieve this, they on kerosene in less
have established a than two years. After
network of dealers that, the cost of
based in small replacement batteries
towns. Dealers are and CFLs is only 200
independent busi- rupees every 3 years
nesses, sometimes (see below) and the
selling other good or lantern should last for
services as well as more than ten years
lanterns, and are provided with training, stock, spare as the designed life of solar panels is 25 years.
parts, and support by the NEST head office. Each deal-
er recruits a number of sub-dealers who work on com- Some lanterns have been bought and distributed by
mission at village level. Dealerships vary in size but typ- NGOs in social programmes. They have also been
ically sell between 500 and 1000 lanterns per year. given away in promotions and high-profile events,
such as prizes for high-achieving students, in order to
Most customers cannot emphasise the
afford the purchase price value of good
of 1,500 rupees for an quality light. NEST
Aishwarya lamp but are has provided PV
able to buy on credit from street lights for
the dealers. Typically they some government
will be asked to pay 200 programmes and
rupees per month for 8 has also donated
months or 100 rupees per them to some of
month for 16 months. the slum commu-
NEST will sometimes nities around
reduce their own profit in Hyderabad.
SOLAR 17
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

NEST MISSION
Global Awareness to Eliminate
Kerosene Lighting
D.T. BARKI

I
N this age of economic globalization and digitalization of a very tiny portion of the world energy
There is
every sphere of life, over 2 billion people world over are consumption (16.33 trillion
nothing
still burning unsafe kerosene to light up their evenings. units/annum). If we are serious about
good about
Besides the slow poison that the kerosene fumes are, in providing energy to those disadvan-
kerosene,
India alone 2.5 million people meet with kerosene related taged households (just for lighting), we
except its
fire accidents, including 350,000 children. should consider the solar energy option,
elimination.
which offers several advantages. Gener-
There is nothing good about kerosene, yet many nation- ation of solar electricity is clean and safe and suits low ener-
al Governments provide subsidy and promote this killer fuel gy applications such as lighting. Fortunately, the solar power
indirectly. During my childhood, in the 60's, I witnessed the technology is mature enough to come in to help the needy
tragic death of a child due to the overturning of a kerosene immediately.
lamp in my village. Even after 100 years
of invention of electricity the third world It's a myth that kerosene is cheaper. In
population does not have access to elec- fact, the rural poor people, who use
tricity, forcing them to use deadly kerosene for lighting, are those who pay
kerosene lanterns. I've no confidence more for the light than their urban coun-
that the power-hungry world will spare terparts. Kerosene lamps are very ineffi-
a small portion of its grid electricity for cient and give very little light output
those who burn unsafe kerosene for (Lumen) for the money spent to buy
lighting. My pessimism is born out of kerosene. For example, assuming a 5W
the fact that while the growing popula- incandescent bulb is equivalent to a
tion demands more and more power, kerosene wick lamp, the urban dweller
One-to-one light comparison between
the faster growing industrial develop- kerosene lamp and solar lamp pays about Rs.25 annually, (Rs.
ments long for even more energy sup- 2.5/unit), whereas the rural poor
ply, making the scenario worse. spend about Rs.1200 per year. In addition, poor people
have to inhale poisonous kerosene fumes apart from fac-
Therefore, grid electricity will eventually fail to reach the ing the danger of getting burnt to death at times.
kerosene-based households. In fact, it's uneconomical to
draw electrical cables and install several electric poles to meet It's time for politicians to reform the national policies so as
to incorporate provision for solar lighting to replace
THERE'S MUCH MORE TO LIGHT kerosene-based lamps. At Noble Energy Solar Technologies
A sanskrit sloka goes like this: Tamasoma jyotirgamaya, (NEST), our mission is to see that there is widespread use of
mrutyorma amrutangamaya. Means, 'O Lord, take us
mortals to the immortality just as you lead us from clean and safe solar lamps in place of the unsafe kerosene
darkness to light'. lamps. Sporadic demonstration of solar lighting projects is
There is no life without light. not the answer. NEST's sole commitment and campaign is
While darkness means contraction, light means expansion. to provide clean lighting across the globe. In order to see
Light is the symbol of knowledge.
Light moots confidence. that this happens there is a need to raise global awareness
A good light is a great means of education and hence among the peoples of the world, ultimately the end user in
wisdom. particular. dtbarki@usa.net
www.solarnest.net
18 SOLAR
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

AISHWARYA - INDIA
ASHDEN AWARD WINNER

A
ISHWARYA Rai may not be London, was attended by the then
aware of its existence, but this Britain Secretary of State for Interna-
"clever and attractive" Aish- tional Development and the chair of
warya® has come as a ray of light, the UN's IPCC, RK Pachauri of TERI on
transforming Indian villages among 29th June 2005. Later, the award was
other parts of the world that have presented in a ceremony at the resi-
never had access to electricity. Recipi- dence of Prince Charles in London.
ent of the prestigious Ashden Light
Award for 2005 for innovative and The primary goal of Mr.Barki is to
unique sustainable energy (often replace the unsafe kerosene lamps (see
referred as Green Oscar), this box on kerosene) with clean and
lightweight, portable, eco-friendly and affordable solar lamps. Aishwarya®
affordable solar lantern is the brain solar lamp may be a small contribution
child of D.T.Barki. in the lives of the poor villagers, but it
has much more to offer to improve
Prince Charles presenting
the Ashden Award for The Ashden award ceremony, at the their lives and bring new hope in their
Aishwarya to DT Barki Royal Geographical Society in Central lives.

Head Office: 2-2-647/8/11 & 14, Saibaba Nagar, Bagh Amberpet, Shivam Road, Hyderabad - 500 044, AP, India
US Office: 208, Parkway Drive, Rosylin Heights, New York, USA 11577, Url: www.globalangel.org, globalangels.jct@gmail.com
SOLAR 19
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Solar Expo Showcases Innovations


ENERGY HARVESTED ECONOMICALLY
NARAYAN AYYAGARI
The solar expo is conducted every two years beginning 2002 and this year it's a
competition "to design, build, and operate the most attractive and
energy-eefficient solar-p
powered house."

E
NERGY is the source of cre- across the world that competed in
First prize
ation and sustainability. showcasing how technology, aes-
With the conventional thetics and architecture can com-
energy resources like coal, oil bine to build a solar-powered ener-
etc depleting, there is a great gy conserving home. Two homes
deal of research into renewable were most noticeable. The "Made
energy. Renewable energy in Germany" from the Technische
sources range from solar energy and Universität Darmstadt home featured
wind energy to bio fuels which can be naturally replen- translucent walls and roof that are composed of photo-
ished. Solar energy is an important renewable energy voltaic cells and combined with German oak gave the
source and is used for a variety of applications like elec- home a resort look. The second home that attracted the
tricity, heat, transportation, lighting etc. Solar energy is most attention was "The Leaf House" by University of
not new; throughout of the history of mankind, solar Maryland. The house was designed as a leaf-like structure
energy has been harnessed and utilized in a vari- with large glass area to bring in light and feeling of
Se
ety of ways. The US Department of Energy con
dp
nature into home. Unsurprisingly, these two
rize
published a timeline of solar energy homes were awarded the 1st and 2nd
usage that gives interesting details prizes for the Solar Decathlon 2007.
about the various solar energy
inventions and initiatives. The Solar Decathlon, apart from show-
casing the most recent innovations of solar
Imagine a home where all energy and its application to residential
the energy needs are met by use, served a larger purpose for the Wash-
solar energy. While such solar ington DC community. A few myths of
homes have been designed solar energy are that it is expensive, aes-
before, a number of limitations thetically ugly, and requires high mainte-
have hindered their acceptabil- nance. The homes featured at the Solar
ity beyond academia and conversationalists. The US Decathlon have given notice that solar energy can be
Department of Energy, BP, and a number of other corpo- harvested economically as well as aesthetically.
rate sponsors have organized a Solar Decathlon on the
national mall at Washington, DC. The expo was hugely http://solardecathlon.org/scores_standings.html
successful and involved teams from 10 major universities #first

Narayan Ayyagari is a software consultant and is currently on an assignment working with


the Washington DC government in modernizing their administrative services. He also
founded and runs Jkinfosys, a software product and services company based in Rockville,
MD. The company has off-shore development centre at Vizag, India. Narayan graduated
with B.E in civil engineering from Andhra University, Vizag, India. He also completed his M.S
in computer science from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Apart from the software
world, Narayan is also active within the Telugu community of northern Virginia.
20 SOLAR
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

the tele.graam
A bulletin of news from "the distant village"

Making Solar Technologies Accessible to Rural India

It is claimed much of India is electrified. But when the lighting for the village . It is with this goal that infraSys has
sun sets, the reality is that most of India is dark or entered the solar energy market.
barely lit.
infraSys offers an attractive
Power Supply in India Today… portable solar lantern - Solar
In India the supply of electricity from the power grid is Deepa - which uses long life
unpredictable and often comes with fluctuating voltage. compact fluorescent lamps
Power is supplied as a priority to industry and the more (CFL). The street lights -
affluent urban areas which include a growing number of Graama Deepa- come in 2
air-conditioned malls and air conditioned bedrooms in models - regular and economy. These decentralized solu-
multi-storied flats. tions can liberate the users from the uncertainties of the
power grid. (See the last issue of CATALYST for a story on
Rural households, on the other hand, cannot afford elec- rural street lighting - an infraSys project)
tricity from the grid and even subsidized schemes do little
to provide adequate lighting when most needed. Most The Challenge
homes use kerosene or vegetable oil lamps. In villages with Even though the lantern is "reasonably" priced, it is still
street lighting, the panchayats (local governments) are in beyond the reach of most rural households. The challenge
perpetual debt to the local Electricity Boards. therefore, is how to make the technology not only afford-
able but also accessible.
The Sun …an Alternate Energy Source!
It is apparent that if rural areas are to be electrified, India The Solution
must turn to alternate energy sources - other than electric- infraSys proposes a business model as a solution. About
ity from nuclear plants, coal fired or large scale hydro elec- 30 to 50 village homes form a consumer market, served by
tric generators. a Central Battery Charging Center, where, by rotation the
solar lanterns can be re-charged.
The answer is obviously the sun, the pri-
mary source of energy for the planet. Sun- An affordable fee is paid by a family for the
light and wind (and even biomass) are all use of the lantern on a per charge basis.
forms of solar energy. Then the question This is similar to bicycle rental where the
that follows is: why have these alterna- access to use of a bicycle is within reach of
tives not reached the millions in the vil- most households- without ownership. This
lages which need it? Is it limitation in the "rental" arrangement would eliminate the
technology, the costs, absence of commitment in public need for the purchase and ownership of
policy or lack of enterprise? Or is it a combination of individual lanterns and photovoltaic panels
these? and in the process make solar lighting accessible.

The Most Basic Need…One Light per Home infraSys is seeking opportunities to design, supply and
The power supply system for the village hut should not be install such systems and provide training for service
designed with urban amenities in mind, but should provide and maintenance to operate as independent rural busi-
one single source of efficient, affordable and predictable nesses.

infraSys is a company that invests in small enterprises in rural India. We bring together the necessary infrastructures -
physical, know-how and financial - without which such enterprises may neither succeed nor be sustainable.
We seek collaboration in creating livelihoods and infrastructure in rural areas.
Visit www.infrasys.biz and write to the author at murthysudhakar@gmail.com
SOLAR 21
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

To Go Solar or Not?
DR SATYANARAYANA GAVARASANA
How cheaply can electricity be made available in India? There are different natural,
alternative sources to generate cheaper power, such as the sun and bio-ffuels.
The question is which of them would be the best resource from affordability angle.

My mind tells me to go solar but my heart tells me to To service a loan of Rs. 1.4 million at 12% interest, we
leave sun alone and use biomass. have to pay Rs. 13,800 as interest per month, whereas
we were paying about Rs.5,000 per month to the
Why Go Solar? APTRANSCO for electricity, though the supply is erratic
Indians are price-conscious. We want things that are and untrustworthy. Now the question: Why would any
affordable. Now that the energy from sun is free why sensible Indian pay monthly Rs. 13,800 as interest (O&M
wouldn’t any Indian, including this author, fall for a free- expenses not included) on a loan raised to buy solar PV
bee? A reader bestowed with intelligence and knowledge panels, instead of paying Rs.5,000 per month as electric-
may ask 'what is the techno-economic justification for ity charges? It is obvious, despite the hype about the
solar power?' Solar Power and its technical feasibility, there is no eco-
nomic justification to use solar power in rural India.
In photosynthesis, nature has achieved an energy
transfer efficiency of approximately 97% whereas the Case study -2
present day commercially available solar photovoltaic Due to frequent power cuts (unannounced and incon-
(PV) panels have efficiency of only 15%. NASA has used venient), villagers in Gollaprolu formed into a Vidyut
solar PV panels with efficiency factor of 30% in space Vineyogadaarula Sanghamu (Electricity Users Associa-
exploration experiments, but they are expensive and not tion). One of the options that they have considered is to
available commercially. establish a Hybrid Solar Power Plant (one MW capacity)
in the village. Gollaprolu village receives sunlight
Case study -1 throughout 210 days in a 365-day year. Taking this into
"Aqua Americana" is a safe drinking water plant run on consideration, a design to produce electricity with a mix
'No-Loss-No-Profit' basis in our village Gollaprolu in the of solar PV panels, solar thermal energy and rice husk
East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, India. 32 KWh (bio-energy) is proposed.
per day is necessary to produce 8000 liters of water. In
order to minimize the inconvenience to water users due According to my calculations, the capital cost to pro-
to power cuts, we are searching for power plants that duce one KWh with solar PV panels is Rs.8, with solar
would supply energy to run the water plant without thermal energy Rs.6 and with bio-mass like rice husk
interruption. Rs.2. Add one rupee as the operation and maintenance
(O&M) expense to produce one KWh, still the final price
I tried to get quotations for a solar PV system to run the favours electricity produced by bio-mass (rice husk).
safe drinking water plant, but there was no response. A Andhra Pradesh TRANSCO purchases electricity at Rs.3
friend from InfraSys (http://www.infrasys.biz/) has per KWh from the producers. If someone uses diesel gen-
obtained a quote for us that required Rs. 1.4 million to erator for electricity, the cost per KWh is approximately
produce 5 KWh of solar power for use in our water plant. Rs.10.

Dr. Satyanarayana Gavarasana was born at Pithapuram on September 4, 1936.


He now lives in Floral Park, U.S.A. A postgraduate in medicine from Andhra Medical College
and a Fulbright Scholar (1966), Dr. Satyanarayana was trained in General Surgery in the US.
He practiced in Gollaprollu village of East Godavari District and conducted a number of health
camps in many villages. Lions Cancer Hospital, Visakhapatnam, is his brainchild. Dr
Gavarasana published a number of articles on cancer research. His current research project is:
screen 100,000 Andhra women for breast cancer including genetic analysis.
22 SOLAR
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Rural and Urban scenarios showing wind velocities over India should be made avail-
Rural India needs low cost, low capacity (5 KWh) able.
power plants to run lathes, cut wood, pump water, run a
machine to powder the dals, rice etc. At present, this is Our aim
met by the diesel gen-sets. Urban India and large indus- Our aim should not be to copy the West blindly as far
tries require mega-power plants with 1000 MW capaci- as Solar PV technology goes, but concentrate on meth-
ty or more. The Indian government is offering a subsidy ods to produce electricity using local resources like rice
to solar power equipment purchasers. There should be husk, bagasse, wood chips, saw dust, gobar gas, etc. The
an incentive to produce cheaper solar PV panels by the directors of research with vision and understanding of
Indian manufacturers. Will the Government of India ever the Indian situation like Prof. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, former
come to the rescue of an Indian solar PV panel produc- President of India, can pursue research to produce PV
er? panels at a price affordable by poor rural Indian citizens.

Release from SEB clutches Our aim is not to create a forum for an endless discus-
Our task is to find a way to produce electricity that will sion but to seek immediate practical answers to the prob-
free our citizens from the clutches of the state electricity lems faced by the villagers. Two case studies are given in
boards (SEBs) and their corrupt and inefficient officials. this article as templates to find suitable solutions. If each
Like the IT revolution, we should work for Energy Tech- village is made independent of the state electric supply
nology revolution, independent of the governmental with construction of one MW Hybrid solar power plant,
intervention. There are bound to be ups and downs in then the vision of Mahatma Gandhi of Gram Swaraj will
the cycle of a revolution, like bursting of internet bubble manifest. If we can find a way to avoid green house gas
in IT field. producing fossils in our daily use like using diesel oil in
diesel gen-sets, then we would not only make our vil-
Bio-mass for electricity lages self-sufficient in energy needs but protect the envi-
There is hype about solar energy now and how long ronment from pollution. Bio-mass and bio-diesel oil will
this hype can be sustained on false economics is beyond come to our rescue. We will continue to pray Sun God to
anybody's guess. There are plenty of bio-fuel resources in bestow Indian engineers with knowledge that would
India that can fuel the progress in Energy Technology. translate into cheaper solar PV panels.
Reports of bio-mass plants producing electricity all over
India demonstrate what is possible in augmenting the References:
supply of electricity in energy-starved India. The Energy
Price Regulatory Commissions in various states can 1.Photosynthesis.http://chemistry.berkeley.edu/
increase the purchasing price of the bio-power taking Publications/journal/volume12/no2/fleming.htm
into consideration various factors that go into production
of electricity using bio-fuels like rice husk, bagasse, wood 2.Efficiency of Solar PV panels.
chips, saw dust, etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cell#Energy_con-
version_efficiency
Alternate fuels
3. Solar PV panels in space.
Kris Rallapalli (Huguenin Rallapalli Foundation) suggest-
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2002/08jan_sun-
ed that one can use non-edible oils to run the diesel gen- shine.htm
sets that are used at present in the villages. Ponge trees
(Pongamia Pinnata) have been planted in the villages sup- 4. Energy technology in India.
ported by the Huguenin Rallapalli Foundation in Tamil http://www.fas.usda.gov/gain-
Nadu and these trees yield non-edible oil that can be used files/200706/146291266.pdf
as a bio-diesel. According to Murthy Sudhakar
(www.infrasys.biz), there is a niche market for solar 5. Energy Scene in India.
lights. http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/library/national_e
nergy_grid/india/energy_overview_of_india.shtml
Wind power is a possible energy source and maps gavarasana_satya@hotmail.com
INNOVATION 23
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Winners of Rural Innovation


Fund for 2007
Microsoft India under its sustainable and self-rreliant rural market initiative, Project Saksham,
has established in 2006 Rural Innovation Fund (RIF) in partnership with International
Development Research of Canada (IDRC) to help local software application development
vendors in smaller towns to create and provide localized applications
and solutions customized for the needs of the rural communities.

T
HE Rural Innovation Fund’s focus is on verticals like blends information technology innovatively, facilitating
telemedicine, education and agriculture, areas online consultation for each patient with ophthalmolo-
which are of maximum interest to the rural commu- gists. This approach helps patients acquire right treatment
nities. M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) advice directly from ophthalmologists, saving a lot of time
is associated with RIF and IDRC to promote rural develop- and money. The objective now is to develop an appropri-
ment through the application of Information Technology. ate model to increase the uptake of eyecare services at
the Vision Centres.
In 2004, MSSRF and IDRC consolidated the concept of
Village Knowledge Centre & Village Resource Centre in
the form of creating multi-stakeholder partnership called
'Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre'. By
2005, this network had more than 200 partners and has
support from national (including government) and inter-
national agencies. In early 2007, this network/movement
was renamed and converted into a movement called
'Grameen Gyan Abhiyan (Rural Knowledge Network)'. ARUNTEC, CHENNAI: Conceptualised by V G Ram
Kumar, Aruntec seeks to create and deliver innovative
Out of 950 applicants with solutions focusing on info-tech solutions, including for the rural community.
enhancing livelihood and agriculture practice, education Their proposal is e-com web portal to facilitate flow of
and literacy, rural health and telemedicine, e-commerce, funds up to village level, the portal to help the villagers
local content management applications and village-level solicit information from the Internet as well as facilitate
administration tools; and disaster preparedness and man- selecting/buying goods or availing of services; and create
agement, the folloing nine were chosen to receive a grant e-identification of villagers and their activities.
of $15,000.

ARAVIND EYE HOSPITAL, THENI, TAMIL NADU:


With a modest beginning of 11 beds in 1976, today JANASTU, BANGALORE: Core strength is developing
Aravind Eye Hospital provides the entire range of eyecare software and providing support for NGOs for their needs,
services. Its proposal of VISION 2020 is a global initiative enabling non IT-savvy users to be pro-active. They pro-
that prioritises five key problems and suggests various pose to build open source school management software
approaches. Based on a low-cost telemedicine approach that is aimed at the teachers and staff of a school, for con-
that reaches out to the rural population, a Vision Centre figuring it to their needs. This is a result of observing that
24 INNOVATION
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

teachers at schools get proactive if the bottleneck of Mineral Density. It provides a cost-effective method of
depending on their computer support departments is min- evaluating BMD by the use of image analysis applied on
imised. radiographs for better results. This method could make
one of the primary healthcare procedures accessible to
Society for Participatory Research and Integrated the poor.
Training (SPIRIT), Tamil Nadu: SPIRIT has been imple-
menting community development activities among the hill ANDHRA PRADESH DAIRY DEVELOPMENT CO-
tribes and Dalits in 40 villages in lower Kodaikanal hills OP FEDERATION (APDDCF), HYDERABAD:
since 1996. They now propose to introduce the fishing APDDCF is an apex body at the state -level, involved in
sector there to information technology in the form of e- focused development of dairy value chain. Their propos-
commerce, by apprising them of benefits in areas of al is an Integrated Rural Milk Procurement (IRMP) pro-
catch, market trend of pricing and post-harvest technolo- ject which is an Internet-based application wherein milk
gies of fisheries. collection details are captured on to the server at head-
quarters straight from the village using GPRS to ensure
transparency and instant payment to the farmer through
bank.

SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION AND


VRITTI SOLUTIONS LIMITED, MUMBAI: Vritti works MANAGEMENT STUDIES, COCHIN: Their propos-
in the focus areas of e-goverance, training and manufac- al is a Patient Logistics Management system for hospi-
turing ERP. Their proposal is a disaster management sys- tals which aims
tem where the proposed application will act like an ERP at developing
and knowledge management solution for disaster preven- software for
tion, mitigation, preparedness, rescue and rehabilitation gathering and
and relief work. storing infor-
mation on
RAJIV GANDHI COLLEGE OF VETERINARY AND patient logis-
ANIMAL SCIENCES tics in the area
(RAGACOVAS), of communi-
PUDUCHERRY: cable diseases
Their proposal involves - a scientific
preparation of Knowledge kit compiling of
for goat-keepers. This involves patient data
scientific ways of goat rearing for combating
such as young kid the most-like-
management, feeding ly-to-recur
management, breeding phases during
management, common the next season. The project, hence, tries to concentrate
diseases of goats, etc., which will explain the important on the formally listed communicable diseases prevalent
scientific practices to be adopted by the goat-keepers. in Kerala.

(It is interesting to observe that every one of the win-


ners is a city-based NGO or institution. When 70% of
rural population is below the poverty line, government-
run schools do not have competent teachers and who
are absent often, and most government-run public
health facilities are not properly managed, what is like-
ly to be the contribution of all these high-tech winners?
MANIPAL CENTRE FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE, This is not intended as a criticism of the RIF. It is a com-
MANIPAL: it is part of Manipal University. Their propos- ment to help develop strategies to improve the produc-
al is the creation of BMD Scan, which is a tool for Bone tivity of funds allotted. -Editor)
INNOVATION 25
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Rural India’s Innovations


AN INNOVATIVE IDEAS EXCHANGE
Honey Bee Network is a bridge between rich and the poor and can lead to patent
rights and license fees for their ideas
LAKSHMAN KALASAPUDI

D
O you know that sour Bee. This network can lead to
butter milk is better patent rights and license fees for
acetic acid or formic acid their ideas. Also, groups such as
for coagulation of natural rub- the Ashoka Foundation can recog-
ber latex? Or that there is a nize these otherwise non-entities
machine to make bamboo and grant them fellowships, thus
splints that costs Rs. 69,550 less enabling them to become
than the one available on the entrepreneurs. As well as catering
market? Perhaps not. They are to many of the needs of the poor,
ideas of impoverished Indians Honey Bee is a bridge between
seeking to make their lives bet- the rich and poor. The knowledge
ter. However, these ideas can found of this database can be
easily be found on the Honey implemented on larger scales by
Bee Network. investors. Many ideas are about increasing production of
goods. One such idea is the roof tile making machine by
The Honey Bee Network is the brainchild of Anil K. Sukhranjan Mistry. His machine can make roof tiles with the
Gupta. This network documents the endless innovations of operation by simply pedaling. While he isn't commercializing
rural peasants in India. While inclusive of age old methods, the idea, others can and will. Therefore, there are two ben-
many indigenous, that have eased life, the net- eficiaries of the concept.
work also collects recent innovations which
ameliorate the lives of economically disadvan- The idea itself is a wonderful innovation! Anil K.
taged people. There have been over 70,000 Gupta is a professor of agriculture at the Indian
entries since its inception in 1990 and the net- Institute of Management at Ahmedabad. Gupta
work is available in Hindi, Gujarati, and Tamil. also founded the Society for Research and Initia-
tives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions
The main intent of this project is to create an (SRISTI). This is the parent organization for Honey
exchange of ideas between the poor of India to Bee. With his academic background in agricul-
make all their lives better. The name is reflective ture, Gupta is the perfect man to initiate such an
of the goal of the project. Just as honey bees activity. Agriculture is a field where any new inno-
collect nectar from different flowers and congregate to vations are vital for the efficient and effective production of
make honey in one beehive, the combination of different crops.
ideas can definitely make life much sweeter. The multi-lin-
gual aspect of this database provides for the dispersion of Knowing the aforementioned innovations are the
ideas throughout India, thereby creating a cross pollination thoughts and research of regular Indian workers who have
of ideas. very little education, we are enlightened by the fact that
higher education, such as masters and Ph.D., is not neces-
Bridge between… sary to invent and innovate. Honey Bee is an excellent plat-
form for the intellect of the non-academia to shine
Innovators can benefit in numerous ways through Honey through.

Database Website: http://knownetgrin.honeybee.org/innovation_database.asp


26 INNOVATION
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

T H E VA R S H A R A I N G U N

Y EARS ago, Anna Saheb Udgave, a cane farmer of Sadalga in


Belgaum district of Karnataka, developed the Chandraprabhu
raingun. On a small scale, he manufactured the raingun and sold
it to other farmers. For this innovation, Anna Saheb received a
national award in 2000.

Soon after, the Rural Innovations Network selected the raingun


for incubation. In 2002, Rural Innovations Network held discus-
sions with Servals Automation, a Chennai-based company. Servals
saw much promise in this equipment because it gave farmers a
host of benefits in a water-scarce situation.

Following the transfer of technology from Anna Saheb to Ser-


vals Automation, the summer of 2002 saw the first lot of Servals-
manufactured rainguns coming out. Later, the Chandraprabhu
raingun was renamed as Varsha. Today, farmers are happy users
of the Varsha raingun because of the numerous benefits it deliv-
ers. Start with water. The Varsha raingun delivers high water sav-
ings, anywhere between 50 and 60 per cent.

What is more it saves time. For instance, the practice of flood irrigation would
make one wait for a week or ten days minimum for the water to drain. With the
raingun, a stretch of land could be irrigated in the morning and by 4 pm in the
afternoon, the water has drained and the soil is ready for carrying out further
operations. It takes far less time to irrigate land when compared to flood irriga-
tion. For instance, irrigating half an acre needs only two hours with the Varsha
raingun whereas flood irrigation would need a day at least.

This saving in water and time ensures that considerable amounts of energy are
saved. It relieves labourers of their time to use in other essential operations. Addi-
Saves
tionally, the raingun can be used to irrigate land that is not level. The raingun
sprays water on the leaves. This washes away the pests that sit on the leaves and
also the eggs that the pests may deposit on the leaves.
water,
There are a few disadvan-
tages in the Varsha raingun
time,
as well. It cannot be used on
tender plants because the
raingun sprays a considerable
energy
amount of water with signifi-
cant force. This would defi-
nitely damage tender plants.
Also, it cannot be used for
flowering plants because the
flowers would be
destroyed.
INNOVATION 27
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

ReMeDi
RURAL HEALTH DIAGNOSTIC INNOVATION

I
NDIA is slowly establishing the patient and store these
itself as a center of excel- along with the rest of the
lence in medicine outsourc- patient's medical data on the
ing the way it has done in IT. computer. Despite all theseim-
India has been exporting doc- pressive features, the software
tors to different parts of the needs no special equipment to
world for many years, and now run. A standard computer will
residents from the developed do. Even more importantly,
world are choosing to go to ReMeDi offers a cheap way for
India for medical treatment. villagers to get medical atten-
Despite this, over 700 million tion. People in rural areas in
Indians today lack access to India often have to make long,
basic medical facilities because expensive trips to other towns
they live in remote villages that to get treatment. ReMeDi, on
suffer from a shortage of doc- the other hand, allows villagers
tors. Also the primary health to get in touch with a doctor
facilities set up by the govern- for as little as Rs. 25 per con-
ment have become dysfunc- sultation. Though the compa-
tional. However now thanks to ny has only begun to sell and
the unique application of IT distribute the product, it is
developed by Neurosynaptic Rajeev Kumar, Founder and CCO, (left) and Sameer Sawarkar, already showing signs of suc-
communication, a Bangalore Founder and CEO Neurosynaptic Communications cess. Other developing coun-
based company villagers may tries such as Bangladesh,
be able to get access to the best medical help. Tunisia, the Philippines, and Mexico have also ordered the
solution, and Mr. Sawarkar, the CEO wishes to install ReMe-
Neurosynaptic company has developed medical device Di on 1,500 Internet kiosks throughout India.
and software known as ReMeDi that connects rural villagers
to Indian urban doctors via the Web. ReMeDi. This is Neurosynaptic Communications Private Limited was
installed on computers in villages or nearby towns. It is selected in November, 2007 by World conomic Forum as
capable of measuring four vital signs: temperature, blood one of the Technology Pioneers. The Technology Pioneers
pressure, blood oxygenation, 2008 were nominated by the
and heartbeat. Trained opera- world's leading technology
tors located at the Internet experts, including venture capi-
kiosk in the village then send talists, technology companies,
the results to doctors in the academics and media. The final
cities. These doctors use the selection from 273 nominees
given information to make was made by a panel of leading
diagnoses and give prescrip- technology experts appointed
tions if necessary. by the World Economic Forum.
Technology Pioneers 2008 are
The ReMeDi program has invited to participate in the
other features as well. It allows World Economic Forum Annual
for real-time communication Meeting 2008 in Davos,
between the patient and the Switzerland.
doctor via video, audio, or text Village kiosk ReMeDi telemedicine center http://www.
chat. It can take pictures of in operation neurosynaptic.com/
28 INNOVATION
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Barefoot College
A WONDROUS EXPERIMENT
The Barefoot College of Tilonia, Rajasthan, India demonstrates that illiteracy is not a barrier to
poor communities developing themselves and that the most sophisticated of technologies can
be disseminated by poor rural men and women who can barely read and write.

First they ignore you, then ABOUT THE COLLEGE cal - many of the children who
they laugh at you, then they pass through night school become
fight you and then you win.
- Mahatma Gandhi T HE Barefoot College, formally known as
the Social Work Research Centre, was
established in 1972 in Tilonia, a small vil-
health workers, engineers,
accountants, and teachers and
serve their own communities.
The Barefoot College strong- lage in the semi-arid regions of Rajasthan,
ly believes that it is a myth that India. The college's founder, Bunker Roy, Unlike the paper-qualified
the development of poor rural lived and worked in this village ever since. urban experts sent to help them,
communities requires people Barefoot-educated professionals
with formal degrees and quali- The college was designed by a semi-liter- focus on local decision-making
fications. The college has ate Barefoot architect and was built by a and grassroots development. As
extended its informal training team of Barefoot architects, Barefoot solar one Barefoot College staff mem-
programs to empower a grow- engineers, and Barefoot water engineers. ber explains, "It is Gandhian --
ing number of female solar The college collects rainwater from the like Mahatma Gandhi we do
power engineers, and the Bare- roofs of the campus and stores 400,000 believe power resides in the poor.
foot approach to development liters of water in an underground tank built They have dignity but do not
has spread across India and under a community stage. The open-air have opportunities. We are har-
around the world. theater can seat an audience of 5,000 for nessing human potential."
performances. The college is fully solar-
Away from Tradition electrified and powers its computers, pho- By giving the rural poor access
The Barefoot College is a rad- tocopying machines, media center, patholo- to practical knowledge, the Bare-
ical departure from the tradi- foot College demystifies technol-
gy lab, and 700 lights and fans of its admin-
tional concept of a "college." istrative offices, classrooms and living ogy and puts it in the hands of vil-
The lifestyle and workstyle is spaces with sunlight. lagers themselves.
very Gandhian. Rather than www.barefootcollege.org
reading, writing, and formal Solar power
degrees, the Barefoot College To date, Barefoot professionals
promotes the kind of education have helped bring solar electricity
one absorbs from family, community, and practical to over 200 remote villages in seven states across India,
experience. The College confers no degrees and all fulfilling such basic needs as lighting and heating. In
members, regardless of class, education, or caste, are this capacity alone, the Barefoot College has improved
considered equal. For the dropout children who cannot the quality of life of more than 80,000 people. The
afford to go to school in the day because they have to philosophies of the College have done more than bring
look after their animals in the fields, classes take place practical technological advancements; they also
at night in the villages. The education is entirely practi- empower
INNOVATION 29
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

villagers, especially women. As one female Barefoot engi-


neer explained, her husband and in-laws were first
unhappy with her pursuit of education and grassroots
LIVING AND
activism, but they soon came to respect her work. WORKING BAREFOOT
"My husband will never say it, but I know he's very
proud of me. Now he asks me to maintain his accounts
for him!" Another female scholar explains, "I now look
S EVENTYTWO-YEAR-OLD Sunjit
Bunker Roy, born in a Bengali fami-
ly and educated in the most "happen-
back at my childhood when I always dreamed of doing ing" schools like Doon and St.Stephens,
something big for my society. My mother used to laugh has had the "most expensive, snobbish
at me. Today my family, my neighbors, and even the vil- education any Indian could have had
lage elders respect me and value my contribution. It feels the misfortune to have." He was
wonderful." deeply moved by the Bihar famine and
the suffering of the people there in
Developing Countries follow 1960s. His anguish and commitment Bunker Roy
The Barefoot approach to the solar-electrification of to improve the quality of life material- The Founder
rural communities has been adopted by the Asian Devel- ized in the form of "Barefoot College" in 1972. Thus began
opment Bank in Afghanistan and in 2007 it was being the journey of three times national Squash champion Bunker
adopted in 25 villages in Bhutan. Similar initiatives arede- Roy to come up with the barefoot concept in respect of peo-
veloping in Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Mali, Bolivia, ple living in extreme poverty and to establish a college for
Cameroon, Tanzania, Senegal, Mauritania, Malawi, them by them. Living and working in villages 35 years back
Kenya and Ethiopia. Both the UNDP and Skoll Foundation became the philosophy and tool for the success of "barefoot"
have provided funds for training 34 Barefoot solar and concept.
water engineers from Ethiopia. In six months during
2006, 19 inaccessible villages in Ethiopia were solar elec- Bunker's belief in and respect for rural professionalism
trified by Barefoot solar engineers trained by the Barefoot grew leaps and bounds since then and has led to not only
College in Tilonia. sustainable development but also building the essential pre-
requisites for sustainable development. His work represents
Skoll Foundation has provided financial support to a ray of hope for rural India and the transparency in his
replicate the Barefoot approach in solar electrification and functioning addresses every one's concern about credibility
rooftop rainwater harvesting for drinking water and san- of NGO sector.
itation in Afghhanistan, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Senegal,
Cameroon and Bolivia. The Barefoot College's $1 million Married to Aruna Roy, recipient of Raman Magsaysay
Alcan Prize for Sustainability will be used to replicate the award for her work as a community leader, who quit a
Barefoot model in even more villages in these countries. secure IAS job to join the Barefoot College and now work-
ing towards social empowerment of rural Rajasthan, Bunker
Creativity matters says "Aruna is my hero." Aruna, through her activism, is
Says Barefoot College founder, Bunker Roy: "It is the bringing about a social change by addressing rural problems
only college in India built by the poor for the poor and for as she believes that only solving economic problems will not
the last 34 years was managed and controlled and owned lead to overal and sustainable rural development. Along
by the poor following the lifestyle and workstyle of with her team of activists from "Majdoor Kisan Shakti Sang-
Gandhi. It is based on very simple living, eating, living, hatan," Aruna was instrumental in the enactment of Right To
and working on the floor where people come for the Information act in Rajasthan and 10 other states.
challenge rather than the money. No one in the college
can earn more than $100 a month. It's the only college Bunker's work and life became inspirational to many
where paper degrees, diplomas and doctorates are a dis- young and old professionals globally. As he rightly believes
qualification because the worth of the person is judged "strengthen the rural areas and you will find less people
by his or her honesty, integrity, compassion, practical migrating to urban areas. You give them opportunity, self
skills, creativity and their ability to work with people with- respect and self confidence, they will never go to urban
out discrimination." slums." bunker_roy@yahoo.com

(Suggested by Ms Sai Padma Bellana)


32 DEVELOPMENT
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Building Technologies to Help Poor


MIT NURTURED DOZENS OF NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS
Lately Massachsetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has turned its attention toward concrete
thinking to improve the lives of the world’s bottom billion, those who live
on a dollar a day or less and who often die young.
ANKIT GUPTA

T
HE Massachusetts Institute of Technology, known for from individuals and small groups. The challenge was to
the excellent education it provides in such brainy top- make products that are cheap and simple enough to be
ics as neuroscience and astrophysics, recently offered used in rural areas. They also needed to be made from
a program that could help improve the lives of the world's materials that would be available wherever the product is
impoverished population. The institute hosted the Interna- to be used. In addition, they needed to fit into the lifestyles
tional Developmental Design Summit, a workshop devot- of those who would use them. These limitations were
ed to building technologies to help the poor. The partici- formidable and the work was hectic and stressful. Howev-
pants consisted of students, professors, and professionals er, the students succeeded in coming up with promising
from around the world. They discussed ideas and prototypes.
solutions to the basic problems faced by
those who live on less than a dollar a For example, Mohamed Mashaal, a British
day. engineer, and Bernard Kiwia, a Tanzanian
teacher, developed a backpack designed to
The event was organized by Amy store water, which would make it easier for
Smith, a lecturer at M.I.T., with the help women in rural Tanzania to carry water over
of volunteers from California Technolo- long distances as they do on a daily basis.
gy University and Harvard University. Two other students, Zambian engineer Sham
Today, over 90% of the money spent on Tembo and M.I.T. student Jessica Vechakul-
research and development is used to made a contraption that used cow manure
build products for the world's wealthiest and charcoal to make electricity.
10%. The movement to change this and
create a focus on those who live in poverty is the "design Why is India, where the need for low technologies to
revolution." Ms Smith hoped that the summit would aid solve the poverty problem is acute, failing to hold this type
this "revolution". of seminars, workshops and think tanks on a larger scale?
Why is India's NGO movement not taking interest to put
The summit began with discussions about the general pressure on the leading educational institutions universities
problems faced by the world's poorest, such as a lack of to divert their energies towards developing such low tech-
water, electricity, and public health. The participants split nologies to meet high aims?
into project teams, each of which focused on creating a
solution to a particular problem. The actual building of pro- IITs do research to promote IT, while we need low tech
totypes took place in M.I.T.'s D-Lab, a center dedicated to solutions for the daily needs of the poor in India.
designing technologies for third world countries. The sup-
plies were bought using donations (over $200,000 in total) ankitgupta@comcast.net

Ankit Gupta is currently a junior at Acton Boxborough Regional High School in Acton,
Massachusetts. He is an active participant in many extracurricular activities like the school
speech and debate team and school band. He also volunteers his time in a number of
ways: he is an assistant coach at the junior high speech and debate team and is a tutor for
high school students who face difficulties in studies. He is also involved in his school's
recycling club. Deeply interested in journalism and philanthropy, he believes Catalyst
represents a unique opportunity to blend the two together.
A R E N A Animation - Kukatpally offers Special Discount for Members of
Global Angels Jai Charitable Trust to promote Animation among Rural Youth
This issue’s cover page is prepared by ARENA, Kukatpally team * Conditions Apply
34 DEVELOPMENT
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

A Lively Discussion on
Sustainable Development
On October 6 and 7, 2007 India Development Service (IDS), India Development
Coalition of America (IDCA), and Loyola University, Chicago conducted an
international conference on the theme of Sustainable Development and
Gandhian Thought at the Loyola University campus in Maywood, Illinois, USA

T
HE international conference on 'Sustainable The objective of the conference was to bring
Development and Gandhian Thought,' held at together experts in the field of sustainable devel-
the Loyola University campus in Maywood, opment, and grassroot activists who are imple-
Illinois recently turned out to be a lively forum for menting developmental projects in India. The
those who are working on projects concerned with occasion also assumed significance for drawing
water and sanitation, education, rural development, speakers from across the globe. Most of them are
solar energy, ecological restoration, AIDS awareness, NRIs. Mr. Sam Pitroda, NKC, India, Prof. Satish
problems of the disabled and networking exchange of ideas Kumar, Great Britain, Mr. Bunker Roy, Rajasthan, India,
and renewing their commitment to the speeding up of the pro- Manoj Dabas of Ashoka Trust, India, Mr. Balbir Mathur,
cess of sustainable development in India. Kansas, Prof. Madhusri Prakash of Penn State University,
Mr. Pragnanand Busi and Ms Saipadma Bellana, Andhra
Action plan was developed for the different non-profit Pradesh, India, apart from Mr. A.K. Attri, India's Consul
organisations in the United States of America to work togeth- General at Chicago, were among them.
er with Indian NGOs and government institutions in
the implementation of programs in rural India. The While Bunker Roy described India as a nation
conference took note of the fact that India has two of "islands of excellence in the seas of igno-
images - the modern urban India and "Bharat," the rance," Prof. Satish Kumar said the "Satvic way of
backward rural India. Urban India's economy development is the only way for India to sustain
boomed with the largest number of billionaires of itself rather than taking the path of super-con-
Asia belonging to it, even as the largest number of sumerism. A physically challenged young
poor lived in Bharat. woman, Ms Saipadma pointed out that even the
disabled can deliver services to rural poor. The India Devel-
The event provided various models and examples to those opment Coalition of America (IDCA), one of the sponsors
who believe in traversing such divides to help the less fortunate of the international conference (the others were India
help themselves and get the NRIs with compassion living in Development Service (IDS) and Loyla University, Chicago)
developed nations (ex: NRIs in the US) to extend help and sup- presented its initiatives in helping India's rural poor.
port to communities back home in overcoming their problems
there. NRIs in the US could become conduits of knowledge, nilvora@pol.net
resources and networks in this mission. raj2468@comcast.net

VIDYASAGAR RAJ RAJARAM NILA VORA


DEVELOPMENT 35
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Eradication of Corruption
Accelerates Development
KRIS DEV
Corruption is the cancer eating into the vitals of Indian society and not allowing
the underdeveloped and developing nations to become developed nations.

I
NDIA is doing well Card and the trans-
on many fronts, actions must be
except in tackling made transparent on
corruption, which in the web.
turn is affecting many
development projects, Suitable 'e-Admin-
impacting the grass- istration' communica-
root development in tion and a trans-
particular, and not parency tool should
allowing the marginal- be available for
ized to be benefited. tracking all commu-
The rich are growing nications and compli-
richer at the expense ance online by
of the poor. What we need is a One-Stop solution to anyone anywhere.
the evil of corruption. The solution should instantly
change the face of our society and reverse it from Minimizes Corruption
downward trends to an upward growth. This would minimize corruption to the point of
eliminating it to create a level playing field, alleviate
Biometric Smart Card poverty and help achieve UN Millennium Develop-
One ideal solution would be to register every citi- ment Goals. Total transparency and accountability
zen uniquely using their biometrics (fingerprints of needs to be made a way of life. Every transaction
all fingers / palm vein) and issue Multipurpose Bio- must be made public and open to public scrutiny.
metric Smart Card-cum-Debit Card, linked to a bank This would deter us from doing any thing on the
account. Every transaction of every individual and sly.
organization must be through the Biometric Smart krisdev@gmail.com

Kris Dev (GopalaKrishnan Devanathan) is a Management & ICT Consultant and social
activist, specializing in decentralization and good governance. At 52, he has a quarter cen-
tury of hands-on experience in Asia and the Americas.
He is a co-founder of the International Transparency and Accountability Network (TrAc-
Net), a global, not-for-profit consortium of Social Activists, for 'Better Self-Administration',
through Community Centric Sustainable Development and Life Line to Business (LL2B), an
ICT organization, specializing in e-Governance. Developed and implemented "e-Adminis-
tration,“ a web-enabled neutral, paper-less e-Office communication and collaboration tool, using open
source tools to transform organizations. He is a recipient of the prestigious "Manthan Award 2006" for pio-
neering work in "e-Inclusion and Livelihood" for good governance in rural India.
36 DEVELOPMENT
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Institute of Rural Research and Development


FROM RHETORIC TO REALITY
POOJA O. MURADA
The use of solar-ppassive methods such as natural cross ventilation or skillful natural
day-llighting can significantly bring down the costs as well as the energy needs of the building.

I
NDIA is witnessing an unprecedented urban growth, building. Good architectural design used in IRRAD reduce
leading to a large scale increase in infrastructure develop- the need to cool or light up the building. In IRRAD light, air
ment and commercial and residential constructions. This, and water have been harvested by using various design
in turn, has resulted in a steep rise in demand for energy to strategies.
sustain the modern lifestyle, placing tremendous strain on
existing resources. It's worth mentioning that the annual The objective
increase of electricity consumption in Gurgaon, Haryana is The objective behind creating such a building is to prove that
about 20% highest in the country. An eco-friendly building it does not take much to make the buildings sustainable.
inflicts minimal footprint IRRAD will lead by
on the environment. example, putting the
latest knowledge and
Integrated approach technology into use. It is
Typically, environment- a 'smart' facility combin-
friendly architecture tries ing simplicity of design
to optimize the perfor- with environment-
mance of a building and friendly technologies.
preserve and protect
important resources like Design Based
water, land, and energy. Features
This is accomplished Insulated building with
through an integrated thermally heavy and
approach to architecture, reflective roof finish to
blending design issues,
reduce the heat trans-
energy-efficient materials,
mission; re-use of exca-
construction techniques,
vated soil for making
effective building systems
and taking advantage of brick insitutions; runoff
renewable energy supplies. The Institute of Rural Research water collection for reuse and ground water recharge mak-
and Development (IRRAD) has set an example by meeting ing zero runoff; roof water harvesting used for fulfilling the
these criteria. requirement of water for the air-conditioning system; an
internal courtyard for maximizing the natural light and ven-
tilation in all spaces reduces the need of HVAC and light-
Design is one of the simplest ways to create an eco-friendly ing; and water saving sanitary fittings.

Pooja O. Murada, a creative mind, studied mass communications as well as management. After
completing her studies, she joined the corporate sector and worked for diverse audience in the
industries like the Information Technology, Advertising and HealthCare.
It was her longing to use her skills and experience for the upliftment of the marginalized society.
She left Hewlett Packard as a Marketing Communications Specialist to work full time to
communicate social causes instead of brands. She is heading the Communications department
at the Institute of Rural Research and Development (IRRAD) run by the Sehgal Foundation. She
is the editor of 'Vikas Patrika', the quarterly newsletter of the Sehgal Foundation.
DEVELOPMENT 37
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Integrated technological and Foundation has taken another initiative by establishing


conceptual systems the Institute of Rural Research and Development
35 KWP of electricity generated by photovoltaic panels on (IRRAD). Taking advantage of the inherent synergy
the roof suffices the basic essential loads like lights, fans and between learning, training, and outreach, IRRAD will
have three centers: one for rural research in collabora-
computers; solar water heating systems reduces the overall
tion with universities and colleges, one for the training
energy consumption, grey and black water recycling - for
of Village Champions in rural development and a third
irrigation and flushing; high efficiency airconditioning equip-
for rural policy, governance studies and advice to pol-
ments; and IRRAD's construction project will be complete by
icymakers.
March 2008.
The Sehgal Foundation has pioneered a new path of
Vision & Mission integrated, sustainable rural development. We would
IRRAD is a premier 'Knowledge Institution' on issues relat- continue with this belief and commitment in the long
ed to rural development and poverty reduction. IRRAD has run, in partnership with the village poor, combining
been established with a mission to promote integrated disci- local perspective and leadership with scientific insight
plines such as rural research, programs & training, advocacy and innovation. We will learn as we grow into a wide-
and field activities. ly-recognized, respected, responsible and responsive
organization. Six hundred million village poor across
IRRAD- Modus Operandi India need and deserve this kind of commitment and
To spread our learnings accumulated under the Sehgal capability.
Foundation's ISVD model and scale up operations, the poojamurada@smsfoundation.org

Sehgal Foundation gets Best Water NGO Award


S
.M.Sehgal Foundation has been presented with the ponent under the Integrated Sustainable Village Devel-
Best Water NGO for Water Harvesting Award at an opment (ISVD) model of the Sehgal Foundation along
awards function at New Delhi on November 29. with other programs on health, agriculture, life skills edu-
The award has been instituted by the Water Digest, a cation and alternate energy. The foundation works in
global magazine for Water Solutions, in association with Mewat and Kurukshetra districts of Haryana where both
UNESCO. the availability and quality of water are of primary con-
cern. The award for Water Harvest-
Initiated last year, Water Digest ing recognizes the foundation's
identified the need to recognize efforts in making potable water
NGOs doing exceptional work in available in the rain scarce area of
the water sector and therefore, Mewat, where the water table is
these awards acknowledged depleting rapidly due to over-
organizations for their exemplary exploitation of the limited water
work in judicious and effective resources.
use of water resources in urban
and rural areas. Besides various interventions in
the area of water harvesting, the
Mr. Rajat Jay Sehgal, Executive Sehgal Foundation has also done
Director of Sehgal Foundation, successful projects in creating the
received the award on behalf of sweet water pockets in the under-
the foundation from eminent dignitaries like the Govern- ground saline water areas, building check dams to
ment of India Minister of State for Water Resources, Jai increase the ground water table, community education
Prakash Narayan, Minja Yang, Director, UNESCO, David programs on water conservation, especially for farmers
Gray, World Bank's Senior Water Advisor and Baljeet on best agricultural practices like chiseling, drip irrigation,
Singh Ahuja, member, Central Water Commission. raised-bed farming etc, and to provide safe drinking
water through various filtration processes like bio-sand
The Water Management program is an important com- filters.
38 DEVELOPMENT
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

India’s Millions Denied Access to Modern Energy


WHAT IS THE ROLE OF INDIA'S SCIENTISTS?

"O
UR day starts before five in the morning as Poor people and poor countries pay a high price
we need to collect water, prepare breakfast for deficits in modern energy provision:
for the family and get our children ready
for school. At around eight, we start collecting wood. Health
The journey is several kilometres long. When we can- Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid
not get wood we use animal dung for cooking-but it fuels is a major killer. It claims the lives of 1.5 million
is bad for the eyes and for the children." people each year, more than half of them below the
age of five: that is 4000 deaths a day. To put this
This is a familiar story for millions in India. In most number in context, it exceeds total deaths from malar-
of urban India, access to electricity is taken for grant- ia and rivals the number of deaths from tuberculosis.
ed. At the flick of a switch the lights come on, water Most of the victims are women, children and the rural
is heated and food is cooked. Employment and pros- poor. Indoor air pollution is also one of the main caus-
perity are supported by the energy systems that sus- es of lower respiratory tract infections and pneumonia
tain modern industry, drive com- in children.
puters and power transport net-
works for the rich. In India, where three in every four
households in rural areas depend on
For the poor in India, access firewood and dung for cooking and
to energy has a very different heat, pollution from unprocessed bio-
meaning. Collecting wood for fuels accounts for some 17% of child
fuel is an arduous and time con- deaths. Electrification is often associ-
suming activity. It takes 2-3 ated with wider advances in health
hours a day. When they are status.
unable to collect wood, they
have no choice but to use ani- Gender
mal dung for cooking-a serious Women and young girls have to allo-
health hazard. cate large amounts of time to the col-
lection of firewood, compounding
In developing countries there gender inequalities in livelihood
are some 2.5 billion people who opportunities and education. Collect-
are forced to rely on biomass- ing fuelwood and animal dung is a
fuelwood, charcoal and animal time-consuming and exhausting task,
dung-to meet their energy with average loads often in excess of
needs for cooking. In sub-Saharan Africa, over 80 20kg. In rural India, average collection times can
percent of the population depends on traditional amount to over 3 hours a day. Beyond the immedi-
biomass for cooking, as do over half of the popula- ate burden on time and body, fuelwood collection
tions of India and China. often results in young girls being kept out of school.

Unequal access to modern energy is closely correlat- Economic Costs


ed with wider inequalities in opportunities for human Poor households often spend a large share of their
development. Countries with low levels of access to income on fuelwood or charcoal. Collection time for
modern energy systems figure prominently in the low fuelwood has significant opportunity costs, limiting
human development group. Within countries, inequal- opportunities for women to engage in income gen-
ities in access to modern energy services between rich erating activities. More broadly, inadequate access
and poor and urban and rural areas interact with to modern energy services restricts productivity and
wider inequalities in opportunity. helps keep people poor.
DEVELOPMENT 39
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Environment Expanded access to affordable electricity for the poor


Deficits in access to modern energy can create a remains an overarching development priority in
vicious circle of environmental, economic and social India. Will the number of people relying on biomass
reversal. Unsustainable production of charcoal in will increase or decrease over the next decade and
response to rising urban demand has placed a huge beyond, in India? All this depends on the progress
strain on areas surrounding major cities. In some towards several MDGs, including those relating to
cases, charcoal production and wood collection has child and maternal survival, education, poverty
contributed to local deforestation. As resources reduction and environmental sustainability. This in
shrink, dung and residues are diverted to fuel use turn depends upon the contribution of India's scien-
instead of being ploughed back into fields, under- tists.
mining soil productivity. (Based on Human Development Report, 2007)

Source of
Household
Energy
Cosumption
Integrated
Energy
Policy,
2006

INDIAN SCIENCE:
Time to be Innovative
"T HERE has been significant progress in the field of atomic energy,
including a movement towards achieving a fast breeder reactor.
There are many hurdles and challenges in front but also a hope that we
might get there within the next decade. While the technical achievement
in the area of atomic energy has been of a very high order, the total
amount of power delivered to the country has not been very significant."
Prof. Yash Pal
An eminent scienist, educationist, science commuicator,
and social thinker

Chancellor, Jawarlal Nehru University, Delhi.


40 TECHNOLOGY
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Making ICT work for the Common Man


CHALLENGE IN CONCEPTUALIZING E-GOVERNANCE PROJECTS
CHANDRASEKHAR
The task at hand is mammoth by any standard -- one that requires us to marry the hard
information technology skills with softer skills requiring appreciation of
simple human needs and concerns.

O
VER the last decade, India has emerged as a major a network of over 100,000 access points termed CSCs
exporter of services in the Information Technology throughout the country which will function as outlets for
(IT) Sector. The domestic market for the IT indus- Government and private services. A typical Common Ser-
try has been growing as well. Recent studies with respect vices Center (one for every six villages) would be an ICT-
to domestic growth in the IT industry show the govern- enabled kiosk with a PC along with basic support equip-
ment as one of the major users of technology and a desti- ment like printer, scanner and UPS, with Wireless Connec-
nation for IT investments in the coming years. Behind the tivity as the backbone and additional equipment for edu-
trend is a story, the main theme of the government's cation, telemedicine etc.
increasing emphasis on leveraging information technology
in the area of public service delivery and human develop- The CSCs are proposed to be undertaken through
ment. three important components: i) A Public Private Partner-
ship (PPP) Framework; ii) Rural Entrepreneurship & Mar-
Those familiar with the government's functioning in this ket mechanisms; and iii) Government policy and support.
country will know that the sector has been an early
adopter of Information and Communication Technology Under a PPP framework, the CSC Scheme would focus
(ICT) even before the advent of the ubiquitous PC. Early on building a network of rural entrepreneurs at the local
usage of ICT was based more on carrying out number level to run village-level kiosks delivering G2C and B2C
crunching and fulfilling the reporting needs of government services. The aim is to ensure local participation of young
back offices. However, recent advances in telecom, PC talent at village level that would also promote community
penetration and the growing use of Internet have opened involvement in the CSC Scheme. The intensity of national
up new vistas for ICT-led transformation in the public goals fuelled by local entrepreneurial vigour can act as a
domain. A concrete shape was given to this new approach powerful catalyst to empower rural India. By enabling
by the government in May, 2006 when the Indian Cabinet selection and training of Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs)
approved the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). This in rural areas, the CSCs would effectively play the role of
programme adopted the vision of making "all government 'Change Agents', in addition to offering e-government and
services accessible to the common man in his locality, private sector services.
through common service delivery outlets and ensures effi-
ciency, transparency and reliability of such services at Preliminary estimates indicate that the total cost involved
affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common in transforming public service delivery through the pro-
man." gramme would be around Rs 22,000 crore. The real
challenge lies in conceptualizing and formulating hundreds
A key component of the NeGP is the Common Services of individual e-governance projects in a manner that
Centers (CSC) scheme, implemented by the Department of addresses the pressing needs and concerns of the common
Information technology. The scheme envisages creation of man.

Mr. Chandrashekhar is an additional secretary (e-Governance) in the Department of


Information Technology under the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology,
Government of India. He established the first department of information technology in the
country when he was the secretary of the department in Government of Andhra Pradesh. He
conceptualized various initiatives such as creation of requisite infrastructure (Hi-Tech city etc.),
strategic human resource development initiative (Indian Institute of Information Technology).
TECHNOLOGY 41
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Swaminathan Leads a New Movement


INTERNET TECHNOLOGY TO VILLAGES
M. S. Swaminathan, the creator of new varieties of high-yyielding wheat in India during the
1960s and 70s, catapulting the country to food independence, is now the driving force
behind a different revolution - a national movement to bring internet and
telecommunications to India's 600,000 rural villages.

S
WAMINATHAN'S movement is born out This is the challenge that Swaminathan
of his belief that Information and Com- has taken on. In the late-1990s, his non-
munication Technologies (ICTs), if profit institute set up some of the first tele-
properly implemented, will help bridge com kiosks in his home state of Tamil Nadu,
India's growing urban-rural divide and forge with the goal of linking farmers and fisher-
better links between researchers and rural men to the basic information they need.
poor people. The percentage of gross After a rocky start, which saw the first four
domestic product the government spends on centres close, the M. S. Swaminathan
rural infrastructure has been steadily declin- Research Foundation (MSSRF) network has
ing since the late 1980s. According to the now grown to a total of 80 kiosks across
World Bank, improving the accessibility and three states.
quality of education, health care and basic
infrastructure such as water, electricity, sani- In 2004, Swaminathan rallied the ICT
tation and roads are among India's biggest challenges. troops, creating what he calls a National Alliance, a
coalition of more than 400 organizations, including state
How will ICT help? Agricultural Extension workers, who governments and various business, academic and non-
are supposed to interact with the farmer every day, and governmental organizations, with the collective aim of
the government employees whose job it is to provide providing ICT access to every villager in India. National-
rural health care, education and basic municipal services ly, there are now more than 20,000 ICT kiosks operating
such as sanitation lack motivation. The hope is that ICT in nearly all of India's 28 states, run by several dozen ICT
will provide "a fresh approach" to agricultural extension, providers, and that number is set to double by December
putting the information directly in the farmer's hands. next year.

Mixed success The alliance has been enormously successful in getting


India's past experience with rural ICT schemes has government support for ICT infrastructure. In addition to
been rife with disappointments. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, the US$420 million that central and state governments
head of the Telecom and Networks Group (TeNeT) at the are pledging towards the physical infrastructure for
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chennai, says that 100,000 telecom kiosks by 2008, roughly $850 million is
the dozens of ICT projects across the country are a series also being invested to bring broadband connectivity to
of ongoing experiments, "some of which have worked," administrative groups of villages. They have also
he says, but "most of which haven't." approved close to $565 million for the creation of state
data centres as hubs for government services. It is an
Jhunjhunwala says that the experience is not unusual. ambitious project considering that 80,000 villages are
Indeed, a 2006 study by the United Nations Develop- still without electricity and 65,000 villages have no tele-
ment Programme (UNDP) of 18 ICT projects in India - phone line.
representing some 6,500 ICT kiosks across 10 states -
found that many faltered because they didn't address People power
rural needs. The study found that several of the projects Swaminathan says that although he is encouraged by
failed to "understand the importance of cultivating close the government's commitment to rural ICTs, he is con-
relationships with their beneficiary community." cerned that the plan is overly focused on providing
42 TECHNOLOGY
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

equipment and physical infrastructure. As part of their co Company of India, one of the country's largest pri-
more people-centred approach, the MSSRF established vate corporations, selling products from cigarettes and
the National Virtual Academy (NVA) in 2003, as a dis- clothing to fertilizers and pesticides, has established
tance-learning program for training villagers to become 6,500 kiosks to serve 38,500 villages in nine states.
advocates for the ICT needs of their community. Over
the past 4 years, the NVA has recruited more than 1,000 The company built its first Internet kiosks in 2000 to
such villagers - 'NVA fellows' - each nominated by their buy grain directly from farmers. The kiosks provide
peers and each with a track record of community service. farmers with market prices so they can decide when
best to sell their harvest, and they sell directly to the
The hub of the matter company for an immediate cash payment. Imperial
The MSSRF Puducherry Village Resource Centre Tobacco says its system has reduced its procurement
serves as a coordinating hub for eight village kiosks, costs by 25-30% and claims to put more money in
including the one in Embalam, relaying the needs of farmers' pockets.
villagers to various experts and government institu-
tions. Tata Consultancy Services in Mumbai, India's largest
computer software exporter, is developing mobile-
Government funding for the telecom centres runs phone software for farmers. India boasts the fastest-
out in 4 years, so to continue operating, the kiosks growing mobile-phone market in the world. One-fifth
must secure private investment to ensure that each of its 218 million mobile-phone users live in rural areas
kiosk will be a self-sustaining public-private outlet. and the country's service providers are rapidly expand-
Jhunjhunwala doubts that the government will achieve ing wireless coverage to villages.
the national goal of building 100,000 telecom kiosks
across the country by 2008 (each to serve 6 villages), Source: nature. Thanks to the author Daemon Fairless.
let alone achieving sustainability by 2010. So far, the He is a freelance journalist who lives in Toronto. This
government has attracted the interest of several large story was originally published in the science journal
companies, including the Mumbai-based telecoms nature, where Daemon held the 2007 IDRC- nature
giant Reliance Communications, each of which has Fellowship, reporting on environment, science and
placed bids for government funds to operate several development from India. Daemon currently works for
thousand kiosks. CBC Radio, as a producer for the weekly science radio
show, Quirks & Quarks. He has produced a number of
Jhunjhunwala is skeptical that these companies will be feature-length radio documentaries as well as hosted the
able to be successful eventhough there are businesses TV-documentary series, Body of Knowledge, which aired
running profitable rural ICT centres. The Imperial Tobac- on Discovery Health.

LOW C ASH-STRAPPED schools in India can buy a simple, bamboo


microscope that will introduce their students to an absolutely
essential, but typically expensive scientific tool. The device, which

COST uses a 20x lens, was conceived by a non-profit organisation


called Jodo Gyan. Members of the group, which is a low-bud-
get affair, carve the microscopes themselves. They've put
MICROSCOPES together about 2,500 so far and sell them for what they cost to
make.

BRING Now, if the One Laptop Per Child effort has any success
in India, these resource-deprived kids could have a real

SCIENCE chance at a decent education. Who knows, a bamboo micro-


scope and an Internet-enabled notebook might even
turn up another Ramanujan!
TO THE POOR jodogyandel@yahoo.com
http://www.jodogyan.org
TECHNOLOGY 43
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

ISRO in Human Development


Y HARSHAVARDHANA RAO & LAHARY RAVURI
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is one of India's leading organizations playing a
significant role in the contribution of science to rapid development of India. India's NGO
movement can play a critical role in fulfilling ISRO's objective.

T
HERE are many areas of human development, par- Centres (VRC) was launched in 2004 in association with
ticularly in the rural sector, where NGOs can join NGOs/Trusts and governmental agencies.
hands with ISRO in a big way in the application of VRCs provide a variety of space-based products and ser-
advanced technologies emerging out of Research and vices such as tele-education, telemedicine, information on
Development in Sciences and Technology. For example, natural resources, interactive advisories on agriculture, fish-
the INSAT program for telemedicine, tele-education, eries, land and water resources management, livestock man-
telecommunications; remote sensing program for appli- agement, interactive vocational training towards livelihood
cations in agriculture, disaster monitoring and manage- support, etc. The Department of Space (DOS) primarily pro-
ment, natural resources monitoring etc. have been vides satellite connectivity and bandwidth, telemedicine and
among the major thrust areas of ISRO which help realize tele-education facilities and customized spatial information
the objective of reaching the benefits to rural population. on natural resources, along with indigenously developed
query tools. The associating agencies provide the facilities for
Village Resource Centres (VRCs) housing, managing and operating VRCs and generating the
Over the last three decades, satellite based communica- rest of the contents.
tion and remote sensing technologies have demonstrated
their capabilities to provide services related to education, So far 200 VRCs have been set up in Tamil Nadu, Kerala,
healthcare, weather, land and water resources manage- Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa,
ment, mitigation of impact of natural disasters, etc. To Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand
enable these space-based services reach directly to the and Bihar. Another 100 VRCs are being set up in other
rural population,the establishment of Village Resource states. Around 40 NGOs/trusts, governmental agenices are
44 TECHNOLOGY
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

associated in the VRC program. VRCs, so far, have provid- district of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhat-
ed various services and advisories to the local people in the tishgarh, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand. The regu-
areas of agriculture, adult and computer literacy, alternate lar transmission of four hours teaching is conducted.
livelihood related vocational training, marketing of agro- regional networks for J&K, Rajasthan, Haryana, Kerala,
products, micro-finance/enterprises, livestock manage- Tamilnadu, Karnataka, and Gujarat have become opera-
ment, healthcare, etc. tional.
EDUSAT Program GRAMSAT Program
EDUSAT is specially configured to relay through audio- Training and Development Communication Channel
visual medium, employing a multi-media multi-centric sys- (TDCC) activities are now being continued as GRAMSAT
tem, an interactive classrooms. Program (GP) for the states. The state governments of
Gujarat, MP, Karnataka and Orissa and universities such as
EDUSAT is providing a wide range of educational deliv- Anna University, Goa University etc. are regular users. The
ery modes like one-way TV broadcast, interactive TV, network was used by different agencies for training about
video conferencing, computer conferencing, web-based 6.6 lakh participants. The present average TDCC utilisation
instructions, etc. Regular utilisation of EDUSAT for is about 25-30 days a month with 100-110 Interactive
Visveswaraya Technological University and Rajeev Gandhi Training Programs (ITPs) with more than six uplinks on air
Technical University and Y B Chavan Open University pilot simultaneously. ITPs are conducted mainly in the fields of
networks is continuing. education, panchayath-raj, engineering, health, water,
women and children, medical, transport, industry, forestry
The Rajasthan EDUSAT network and the Jammu hub are and fisheries. The utilisation of the channel over the last
operational. Installation and commissioning, among oth- three years has indicated a significant growth in terms of
ers, 135 terminals of Indira Gandhi National Open Univer- ITPs conducted per month, duration of usage, and number
sity (IGNOU), 101 terminals of All India Council for Tech- of users, etc.
nical Education (AICTE), 22 terminals of Vigyan Prasar
(DST), and 83 of IDSP in National Beam have been com- The Gramsat Program involves establishing SATCOM
pleted. Nearly a thousand Receive Only Terminals (ROTs) networks to provide state-based connectivity for the rural
are installed and commissioned at various schools of Sidhi specific needs. Networks are upgraded and converged to
TECHNOLOGY 45
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

cater multiple services like tele-education, telemedicine, space technology for societal benefits. While DOS pro-
VRCs etc. The Andaman and Nicobar network was vides the telemedicine systems - software, hardware and
upgraded to counter the degradation due to tertiary cov- communication equipments as well as satellite bandwidth
erage of the space segment in the region. The network - the state governments and the specialty hospitals have to
continued to be used for e-governance and computer edu- allocate funds for their part of infrastructure, manpower
cation in the region. Besides being used for computer edu- and maintenance. Technology development, standards
cation, a ship ticket booking software has been added by and cost effective systems have been evolved in associa-
A&N administration of existing network. tion with various state governments, NGOs, specialty hos-
pitals and industry. DOS interacts with state government
The establishment of the Rajasthan network, funded by and specialty hospitals for bringing an understanding
Government of Rajasthan, has been established at Jaipur. between the parties through an MOU.
Teaching end installation is in progress. In West Bengal, a
full-fledged network for panchayat training is being set up. At present, there are 186 hospitals in the telemedicine
In Orissa, the TDCC network continues to be operational. network including 152 in remote and rural areas and 34
The e-governance component up to block level continues super specialty hospitals in major cities. DOS also supports
to support panchayat e-governance services like panchay- telemedicine national grid activities through Task Force
at financial transaction, land record, e-mail etc. formed by Directorate of Health Services.

Telemedicine info@isro.org
Telemedicine is an important initiative of DOS to use harsha.y@gmail.com

Y Harshavardhana Rao, had a Lahary Ravuri works at IBM's Silicon


distinguished career in Indian Space Valley Laboratory in San Jose, CA.
Research Organisation from 1972 to She is responsible for business
2007 as an Electronics and development and Data Servers
Communications Engineer. He retired enablement. She grew up in ISRO's
from service as General Manager, Satish Dhawan Space Center and was
Range Instrumentation Systems, deeply involved in several academic,
Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, social and cultural activities of SDSC
Sriharikota. He has contributed immensely to establishing both as a participant and organizer for over ten years.
and operationalizing various instrumentation systems to She is an avowed student of Space Programs. She
meet the ground support requirements for the launch of holds Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Electrical
Sounding Rockets and Satellite Launch Vehicles. Engineering.
46 TECHNOLOGY
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Pedal Power Technlogy


INTEGRATING VILLAGE INDUSTRY AND HUMAN POWER
DR. NARENDRA SHAH

Pedal Power is a simple, cheap, and convenient source of energy,


which can be applied to a wide range of jobs. The work started at the Centre
for Technology Alternaticves for Rural Areas, IIT Bombay.

P
EDAL power energy has been in use since the 18th The work, started at IIT-Bombay, has developed and
century. It uses the most powerful muscles in the demonstrated applications of pedal power in battery
body: the quads, hamstrings, and calves. When ped- charging, potters’ wheels water pumping, wood turning
aling in a circular motion at sixty to eighty revolutions per lathe, paddy threshing, and spices (masala) grinding.
minute, with the use of toe clips, almost every muscle in
the human legs can be used to make energy. Ninety-five Potters wheel
percent of the exertion put into pedal power is converted Pedal power potter’s wheel consists of a driving mecha-
into energy. nism, seating arrangement,
rotary wheel and plastic splash
Pedal power can be incor- pan. The driving mechanism
porated in the lives of fami- consists of a chain and sprocket
lies living in rural areas to drive with a set of bevel gears,
improve the quality of their which convert human energy
lives while being environ- into horizontal rotary motion
ment friendly. In the absence and transmit it to the wheel.
of electricity, pedal power The wheel acts as a "potter’s
serves as a substitute renew- wheel" as well as flywheel that
able energy generating curbs the effect of the uneven-
about 75 watts per person ness associated with pedaling.
suitable for about 6 hours per The wheel would have a full
day. This can also be useful in range of speed control from
natural calamities like earth- slow revolutions to fast (i.e. 100
quakes, cyclones etc where to 300 rpm). It can hold both
no other power source is fast and slow speeds accurately
available. Many of the villages where electricity is nor under load.A prototype is installed and has been tested at
available or available erratically, pedal power is a promising the Yusuf Meheraaly Centre, Tara Village in Raigad district,
substitute. supported by Khadi and Village Industries Commission
(KVIC), Mumbai.
Relevant in today's context?
With the overabundance of automobiles and electric Electricity Generator (Battery Charger)
powered machines, pedal power can be an environmental- The shortages in grid-supplied electricity (load shedding
ly friendly power solution for decentralized rural applica- times, typically 8-12 hrs / day in some states of India) are
tions, such as rural industry (wood carver, stone polisher met by kerosene and petrol gensets. The genesets are
and buffer, jeweler's lathe, and pottery wheel and small many times out of reach of poor households. A pedal pow-
scale electricity generation), food processing (appliances ered generator provides a method of generating electricity
such as a juicer, potato peeler, cherry pitter, or a butter by means of a modified bicycle for producing electricity.
churn can also use with pedal power), and on farm (pedal
power can be used to pump water, thresh and clean Human and mechanical energy is converted into an elec-
grains etc.). trical current by means of a Direct Current (DC) generator
that is connected by a chain to the flywheel. The energy
TECHNOLOGY 47
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

created by the DC these appliances. The unit can generate approximately 8


generator can be Amp-hr power by peddling 1 hrs @40-50 rpm. It is
stored in various enough to light two CFL lamps (10W) for four hours.
types of dry/lead-
acid batteries. Reciprocating double
Also, energy that acting water pump
is stored within It consists of two reciprocating pumps, a flywheel, cycle
the battery can be frame, chain and sprocket drive, and connecting rod. A
utilised for use in single person can operate the pump. Each pump can pro-
DC appliances duce discharge of 24 lit/min. Discharge of 48 lit/min can
such as those be obtained at normal operational (peddling) speed. Pedal
found in automo- driven pumps can be used as a standby for electric or diesel
tive mobile pumps for pumping the water from well or tank or nala
homes. If Alter- (maximum suction head of 30 ft.). In the remote areas,
nating Current neither electricity supply nor diesel engines are easily avail-
(AC) appliances able. In such places, a pedal powered pump can serve the
are in place, then purpose.
an inverter must be used to transfer the 12 volts of DC cur-
rent into the standard 230 volts of AC current for usage by nshah@iitb.ac.in

E
CONOMYecology can- existence to E.F. Schumacher
not sustain itself without
ecology. Hence, prudent
uses of natural resources
Resurgence and his inspiring and world-
acclaimed book ‘Small is Beau-
tiful,’ published in 1973.
become central to all life INVALUABLE INFORMATION SOURCE
forms. This truth is continu- Food for thought can be
ously being brought to the limelight with each drawn from visiting www.resurgence.org and
publication of 'Resurgence,' an international clicking gallery, shop, resources, energy and
magazine started in 1966. Ever since its emer- about Satish Kumar, the editor of the magazine
gence, ‘Resurgence’ has been an invaluable since 1973. He is also the founder of the Small
source of information and inspiration. It aims to School in Hartland. The school focuses on com-
generate pro-active behavior through ecological, bining education with ecological and spiritual val-
ethical and spiritual awareness. Each issue is ues. In 1991, Mr. Kumar helped found Schu-
unique. Its features are diversified. They fall into macher College, an international centre for eco-
art, architecture, development, ecology and logical studies and serves as its Director of Pro-
environment, education, food, genetics, health grams. He is a museum of experiences drawn
and healing, philosophy, peace studies, recycling, from his barefoot journeys across many coun-
spirituality etc. It is inter and intra disciplinary with tries. Networking with The Phone Co-op is itself an inspi-
renowned writers and thinkers of the ecological and spiri- ration of how we can transform our green ideas into mind-
tual movement across the globe. ful actions. They follow an ethical path while doing busi-
ness. ‘Resurgence’ uses both print and electronic media to
‘Resurgence’ has earmarked a place for itself in The reach people with a mission of making them think of how
Schumacher Circle that comprises Green Books, Intermedi- right thinking leads to right actions and what right actions
ate Technology, The New Economics Foundation, Schu- mean to us and future generations to come.
macher College, The Schumacher Society, Schumacher
Book Service and The Soil Association. All these owe their pragnanand@hotmail.com

(Pragnanand Busi is a development professional based in Nalgonda District, Andhra Pradesh, India)
48 TECHNOLOGY
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Models of Sustainable Technology


FOR BUILDING MATERIALS, ENERGY AND EDUCATION
DR. D.K. MISHRA
Association for India’s Development (AID) volunteers study and support progressive
organizations working on holistically oriented development projects in areas
of health, education, livelihoods, natural resources and human rights.

A
SSOCIATION for India's Development is a regis- for Orissa as it frequently experiences natural disasters
tered nonprofit organization in the United States and the poor that suffer the consequences. In this
with chapters in 30-35 locations in US and 8-10 regard, AID has been working with hand-pressed
locations in India. AID volunteers have attempted to mechanical interlocking block technology (Fig 1) with
apply science to serve societal problems, and also to JITM and some of our partner NGO's. AID USA has sup-
guard against abuses of science and pseudo science to ported the construction of several demonstration struc-
advance pseudo-development that confers short term tures and training centre both of which we have incorpo-
benefits to few at expense of many. rated the mechanical interlocking blocks so as to demon-
strate to the local communities the benefits of this tech-
Introduction nology. They have numerous advantages, both economi-
The work of AID in the state of Orissa over the past cally and environmentally, over tra-
two years has been managed by the state chapter. ditional bricks. They do not require
AID Orissa has been able to assist disadvantaged wood or coal firing as they are sun
rural communities dried, can be cement stabilised (6-
through the imple- 8%), utilise rocky infertile soil as
mentation of the AID opposed to traditional brick which
Rural Technology use nutrient rich fertile soil, fly ash-
Resource Center cement combinations work well (fly
(ARTRC). AID Orissa ash being a waste product of ther-
has been working with mal power generation), do not
individuals on a grass- require mortar between layers, can
roots level to create sustainable be reinforced vertically and horizon-
communities through the tally with iron rods for cyclone or
enhancement of individual skills earthquake resistance and lintels
and knowledge. Traditional liveli- and beams can be formed by sim-
hoods are maintained and indige- Fig 1. Photographs show machine, ple insertions into the press when
nous skilled workers are not made block design and prototype wall. forming the mechanical interlocking
obsolete and hence forced to move blocks. So far over twenty machines
away from their villages to find employment. With ten have been fabricated and supplied to NGOs,
to fifteen staff and almost 50 student volunteers, AID entrepreneurs and others that are being used successfully
Orissa has developed a range of projects in the Gajap- in many parts of Orissa.
ati district that target livelihood training and income
generation, education, community development and Energy
environmental issues. AID Orissa has close links with A low cost solar powered LED lantern (Fig 2) has been
the Jagannath Institute of Technology (JITM) and has developed by students of UIUC (University of Illinois at
joint projects with the help of students and faculty of Urbana Champaign) and JITM (Jagannatha Institute for
JITM. Technology and Management, Paralakhemundi) for use
in remote rural communities that are not on the power
Building Technology grid. When student members of Engineers Without Bor-
Low cost, appropriate and affordable housing is essential ders (EWB, www.ewb.org) and Association for India's
TECHNOLOGY 49
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Development (AID, www.aidindia.org) of JITM decided So, the long term cost of ownership for the solar lantern
to join hands to take up appropriate technology based is preliminarily estimated to be 35% that of the kerosene
projects for remote communities in India, the result was lantern. With the help of a grant from Environmental
a low cost solution for lighting. Protection Agency (EPA), students of JITM in collabora-
tion with Engineer's Without Borders (EWB) and member
Two billion people light their homes students from University of Illinois have
with oil lanterns. These lamps produce a recently fabricated eighty prototype lamps
miniscule amount of light, and due to for trial in villages near JITM.
their inefficiency are estimated to result in
additional consumption of one-third of Education
the total energy used globally for all elec- Terminal computing using a back-end
trical home lighting, with a disproportion- server computer to power a network of
ately large corresponding contribution to cheap client terminals is a cost-effective
carbon dioxide and soot emissions. means for facile delivery of education and
information and opening up new and con-
In a continuing trend, Light Emitting temporary income generation avenues for
Diodes (LEDs) have recently become the underserved. Other advantages of this
more affordable and more power effi- information technology concept include
cient. LEDs operate at low voltages, and lower system maintenance and adminis-
have incredible efficiencies at very low tration costs, reduced hardware costs by
power levels (currently over 30 lumens using old, donated PCs as thin clients,
per watt at one watt). Solar LED lantern open-source software availability, and
that has been designed is equal to a importantly, a mechanism to create linkage
kerosene lantern in usefulness and com- between technical colleges and counter-
parable in light output. The goal is a light part schools for joint socially-conscious
source with a power consumption close projects. As part of a vision of appropriate
to one watt. This will allow the use of a technology and knowledge-economy pre-
small photovoltaic panel to charge a 12 paredness for the digital have-nots, SEEDS
volt 1.2 to 1.5 amp-hour battery. Its with strong cooperation of AID Orissa and
design uses a number of smaller LEDs JITM, Paralakhemundi has completed
wired in a parallel series arrangement. deployment of our first CfM system at the
This design has the ability to direct and Upalada High School in the tribal Gajapati
focus the light without reflectors, uses region (which seems to be at the bottom
only one third the current, and has the Fig 2. Solar charged battery of Orissa's "education pyramid".)
resulting capacity to employ a 12-volt powered low cost
battery and photovoltaic cell. LED lantern The system consisting of six computers
and software tightly networked together
Kerosene hurricane lanterns (the most common type of cost us a total of Rs. 46,000. One hundred girls and boys
oil lantern in the developing world) cost Rs 200, are esti- out of the total 300 students signed up for the computer
mated to last 2.5 years, and are generally used to burn class paying a fee of Rs. 10 a month. We hope to work
rupees 60 to 70 in kerosene per month. The proposed to provide internet connectivity through mobile vans.
solar lantern has been made to last five years, with Rs
180, battery replacement required every twenty months. dhanadam@gmail.com

Dhanada Kanta Mishra obtained his Master's degree from the University of Oklahoma and
Doctorate from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). Most recently he has been the
Principal and later the Director (R&D) at JITM, Paralakhemundi in Orissa. He also worked as
the first Dean (R&D) at the KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Orissa. He has worked with Rocla
Technology, in Australia and ACC in India in corporate R&D. His main interest is in the areas
of industrial waste utilization and appropriate technology. His passion is in the development
sector as a volunteer of the Association for India's Development (AID).
50 TECHNOLOGY
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

A Nano-Solution to A Mega Problem


REMOVING ARSENIC FROM WATER USING IRON MAGNET NANOPARTICLES
PROF. D BALASUBRAMANIAN
Arsenic is a silent killer. It causes skin lesions, affects the stomach, liver, lung, kidney and
blood, disabling the body over time. It combines with proteins and enzymes, inactivating
them and thus causing slow metabolic disorders. At the extreme, it causes cancer.

B
ANGLADESH has been battling with a silent public How does one plan to remove the offending arsenic from
health disaster for the past thirty years. The culprits water? Boiling the water to precipitate the arsenic does not
are the deadly arsenic compounds present in their work, since it does not come out of solution, as calcium
tube-well water. Earlier to 1970s, health authorities found does from hard water. Nor does boiling convert arsenic into
an epidemic of gastrointestinal diseases due to the con- any harmless form, as happens with water contaminated by
tamination of surface water from the lakes and rivers by microbes. What we are looking for is an efficient, inexpen-
disease-carrying microbes. In a well-intentioned move, sive method that needs little or no energy, and is usable by
they embarked on a programme, in collaboration with families, communities and cities. The method should be
UNICEF and private parties, of digging tube-wells, so as applicable at all scales, from the individual families to the
to provide safe drinking water. By the end of 1997, over city water supply agencies. Herein lies the grand challenge.
80% of its population had access to tube-well water.
A group of researchers from Rice University at Houston,
Alas, tube-well water is not safe either. It contains arsenic TX, USA has been working for the last several years on pre-
salts at levels far higher than permissible. The problem is not cisely this problem. They have now come out with a work-
a directly man-made one. Silt from rivers upstream has able solution that appears to satisfy many of the above
been, over the centuries, collecting and depositing arsenic requirements. And their solution, published in the 10
in subterranean layers. Tube-well water arsenic contamina- November 2006 issue of Science, makes use magnetic
tion is not restricted to Bangladesh alone, but is also seen nanoparticles of iron oxide.
in Bihar and Eastern UP. But it is Bangladesh that has been
hit so calamitously. History is replete with examples of We humans, with our height and girth in meters, are
arsenic-induced poisoning and death. Two Popes and even ’meter-particles.‘ Tiny ants, fruitflies and lice are 'millime-
Napoleon Bonaparte are thought to have been murdered ter particles' or 'milliparticles,' while bacteria, which are a
through arsenic poisoning. But the scale in Bangladesh is thousand-fold smaller, are 'microparticles.' Scaling equally
massive. Over 40 million of its 130 million are affected in down, we reach molecules and atoms whose sizes are in
varying degrees of severity. nanometers or even less. As we reach this nano-scale, the
properties of materials change remarkably. Size matters
Some methods have been suggested and used to help here; it becomes the determinant of the property. Gold
clear the body of ingested arsenic and prevent skin glitters as a nugget, as a millimeter speck, and even as a
lesions. Selenium intake appears to remove some arsenic. micron particle. Cut it down to the nano scale; it loses the
Some have suggested that iron sulfate be used in order to glitter; even its electrical conductivity changes. New laws
help flush arsenic out of the system. Others have suggest- of physics, of the quantum world, begin to operate here.
ed that the amino acid methionine may help in reducing Chemically it is the same, but in various physical proper-
the lesion. Clearly, prevention is better than cure. ties, nano-gold is quite different from macro-gold.

Prof. D Balasubramanian is the Director of Research, Hyderabad Eye Research Foundation. He


has received many national and international awards for his outstanding contributions in science
particularly in the area of genetics and molecular biology of eye related diseases. He is the
recipient of UNESCO award for science popularization and TWAS award for basic medical
science. Govt. of India conferred upon him Padmashree in 2002. Same year, he has received
prestigious Chevalier de l'ordre National du Mérite from the President of France.
TECHNOLOGY 51
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Magnetite, a composite oxide of iron, is a good magnet. avidly, thanks to the large surface area it presents at this nm
Below 40 nm in size, its magnetic properties actually size. This removed the dissolved arsenic very efficiently
become more pronounced, and becomes what physicists from the water. Secondly, they placed an external magnet
call a superparamagnet. At the same time, as the particle under the beaker. This external magnetic field induced the
size reduces, the proportion of surface area it exposes also aggregation or clumping of the magnetite into large
increases. This allows it to 'stick' to material more avidly chunks, which could be decanted or filtered out, leaving
than in the bulk phase. arsenic-free water.

What Rice University researchers have done is to exploit What does it mean to Bangladesh, and parts of India
this nano-size behaviour of magnetite. They prepared 16- affected by arsenic-contaminated water? Here then
nm size magnetite particles, stirred up a bit of this material appears a method worth trying both at the small scale and
in a beakerful of arsenic-contaminated water. Two things at the larger community level. Nano-Davids for Mega-
happened. Magnetite, being an iron-containing material, Goliaths!
has an affinity to bind to arsenic salts, and it did so very (Source: The Hindu)

3 Million Euros for Clean Energy Projects

R ENEWABLE Energy and


Energy Efficiency Partner-
ship (REEEP) announced a call

I
T has been said that in terms of importance, for project proposals which
water is globally the next oil. It has also been support the development of
said that the next world war may be fought over markets for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The
water. At least in the Indian context such is the project call is REEEP's largest in its four-year history with
value of water that it is time for the country to have more than 3 million Euro available for projects in least
a National Water Policy with an unquenchable developed countries and emerging market economies.
commitment to implement.
Consortium funds
The cost of women fetching water in India is said The project call received
to be equivalent to a national loss of income of Rs funding from a consortium
1000 crore. Do we need such kind of statements to comprised of Ireland, Italy, New
wake us up? Zealand, Norway and the Unit-
ed Kingdom. The REEEP call is
1.8 million children die each year of diarrhea - an open tender seeking projects
4,900 deaths each day. Every NGO working in from priority countries - China, India and Brazil and from
Rural India and Urban Slums can help in stopping across the developing world.
these deaths.
Energy efficiency
Poor people pay more for water. Poor people liv- REEEP has also decided to further increase the importance
ing in the slums often pay 5-10 times more for a liter of energy efficiency in its portfolio and throughout emerg-
of water than wealthy people living in the same city. ing markets. The project call will be seeking bidders for the
production of a REEEP Report on Energy Efficiency in order
For free downloads such as simple posters on to accurately portray the benefits and role that energy effi-
water, district wise NGOs and other organisations ciency can play in improving energy security, lowering car-
working on water, railfall in your district, water qualiy bon emissions, and enhancing industrial competitiveness.
kits, and many more useful data and information,
visit at . Dr. Marianne Osterkorn, REEEP International Director,
http://www.indiawaterportal.org/ stated that the partnership can now add value across a
or write to portal@arghyam.org number of areas.
http://www.reeep.org
52 NGO
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

SULABH INTERNATIONAL
Some Inconvenient Questions
for India’s NGO Movement
BHAMY V. SHENOY
An estimated 2.6 billion people worldwide have no access to safe and hygienic
toilets today and 700 million are in India.

I
T was many decades ago Pandit Nehru announced ate sanitation facilities in several places.
that "The day every one of us gets a toilet to use, I
shall know that our country has touched the pinnacle Another dreadful aspect of manual scavenging is the
of progress." By this measure, India has a long way to go. perpetuation of abominable caste system and untoucha-
The seventh World Toilet Summit held in Delhi in 2007 bility. It is mostly Dalits who are involved in manual scav-
brought this inconvenient truth to the national agenda. enging. Sulabh has made efforts to educate the children
Thanks to a well known NGO, Sulabh International, the of these scavengers by opening special schools and pro-
issue has been brought to the attention of many in recent viding opportunities to improve their standard of living.
years. Their efforts are definitely laudable. Still most of these
Dalits remain poor and unable to get out of the vicious
Even more shocking and painful fact is that more than poverty cycle.
half a million scavengers clean 10 million toilets in India
today with their bare hands. Most of them are in UP, Since no hygienic toilets are available, waterborne dis-
Rajasthan, MP and Gujarat. There is a movement to eases kill more than 500,000 children every year in India,
eradicate manual scavenging by 2010 called Safai Kar- mostly from diarrhea. This by itself should have to put the
machari Andolan (SKA). Indian government has passed problem of lack of enough toilets on the national agen-
a law in 1993 banning manual scavenging. Why has the da.
law failed so far to stop this dreadful practice? Will a
movement like SKA make a difference when a strong In some places, Sulabh has succeeded in producing
and well known NGO like Sulabh International has not methane by composting the human excrement. Electrici-
succeeded all these years? ty is produced using methane to run the water pumps.
However, Sulabh technology continues to remain tradi-
In 1974 Sulabh International was founded by tional, needing water. A South African company has
Bindeswar Pathak in Patna. Sulabh is operating and developed modern toilets which require no water, no
maintaining about 6,000 community souchalayas today plumbing, and almost no maintenance. Once a week a
in some 1,100 towns and cities, in 29 states and 3 tray below is emptied of waste, and then turned into an
Union Territories of India. A souchalaya can be a simple almost odorless compost by a solar heater and natural
urinal facility to a more elaborate complex with bathing, bacteria.
laundry, urinal and telephone facilities with 24 hours
attendant service on the premise. All Sulabh facilities Green Cross Society of Mumbai has developed an
work on the principle of a use-and-pay system so that odorless self-flushing toilet for slum sanitation. People
public exchequer is not burdened. Usually these Sulabh carry 1-2 liters of water for defecation; the thick sewage
facilities are clean and have 24-hour water supply. Sula- slurry gets treated in two horizontal shallow reactors
bh also operates suachalayas in several important rail- using the BIOSANITIZER and planted filter. Clean water
way stations. Usually these are far better than the ones produced is pumped to the overhead tank that feeds the
operated by the government or even those by some continuous flushing system. (for more information con-
other private parties. It is to the credit of Sulabh that tact toiletguru@gmail.com). This technology has yet to
many government agencies have requested it to oper- get popularity and can be considered as experimental.
NGO 53
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

By any standard, Sulabh Souchalaya has contributed parts of India to make use of funding provided by the
immensely to solve several sanitation and night soil related government to construct toilets. Why have these enter-
problems in India. Thanks to Mr. Bindeswar Pathak, every prising or dedicated individuals not adapted the Sulabh
major city in India has Sulabh souchalayas today. In the model to enrich themselves but also to help the society?
process Mr. Pathak has also been able to improve his stan- There are no entry barriers, and the capital requirement is
dard of living for which no one should envy him. In many not huge.
ways his contribution to India is comparable to Ambani's
through Reliance or Narayana Murthy's through Infosys. Pathak is a Brahmin who is influenced by Mahatma
His contribution on GNP scale will not amount to much. But Gandhi and took up the great challenge to get rid of man-
his contribution to improve the standard of living of the ual scavenging. This clearly shows that belonging to an
scavengers or helping millions who needed clean toilets is "upper caste" need not be an obstacle for people to get
immense. All kinds of national (Padma Bhushan) and inter- involved in a non-glamorous sector like sanitation facility
national awards have been showered on Pathak. Thanks to which is traditionally maintained by the so-called lower
him, more than 60,000 people are employed. caste.

With all these accomplishments, have we solved the san- The crucial question is this: despite 30 years of exis-
itation problem of India? The government has allocated tence, why have Sulabh and other NGOs not been able to
resources to build thousands of latrines. But it is not solve the deplorable and horrible dehumanizing state of
enough. Every railway station reminds us of the horrible affairs of those who are employed in this sector?
state of lack of sanitation. Despite the Sulabh souchalayas
in many cities, finding clean toilets in urban areas is a night- Political system in India wants to adapt a quota system
mare. In rural areas, one need not even look for them. even for premier educational institutions supposedly to
help the downtrodden. We have had these affirmative
Many rural based NGOs like Sulabh have been also action programs even before Independence. Why have
involved in a monumental task of providing latrines to each they singularly failed to come to the assistance of the
household. Still providing clean toilet facilities to each fam- manual scavengers? Why has the NGO movement, which
ily has remained a dream. Why? This is not because of the is looking for deserving causes, not taken up the cause to
size of Pathak's organization. It is a very huge organization get rid of this abominable system of handling night soil?
operating in most large states in India. It has economic One lesson we can learn from the Sulabh experience is
clout and access to international and national funding. Also, that for the size of India, we need to have multiple num-
most of its operations are self-sustaining. There are thou- bers of mega NGOs and also a strong all India movement
sands of NGOs which have come into existence in different to bring about the needed reform.
54 NGO
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Informal Workers
Benefit from NIDAN
N
IDAN, has been an organisation 5000 workers have been brought under its
intensively working with informal coverage. Collective enterprises, owned
workers of Bihar and outside since a and controlled by the communities, are
decade on various development issues. being promoted. Nidan has been at the
These workers belong to the poorest sec- forefront of the campaign for a policy for
tions of society. The target group includes urban street vendors and it works consis-
hawkers, vendors, petty business men and tently on advocating better policies and
women, agricultural labourers, rag pickers, programs for the informal workers from
construction workers, domestic servants and work conditions to housing to micro-
migrant workers as well as poor and desti- finance to social security It has also joined
tute children. many organizations in the campaign for
Comprehensive Social Security for informal
The activities workers.
comprise Micro
Finance (Nidan Nidan is
promotes the presently work-
saving habit and ing in six districts
makes credit of Bihar as well
accessible as Jharkhand,
through finan- Delhi and Jaipur
cial institutions), city.
Thrift and Credit
Co - operatives, N I D A N
Social Security bagged the
for workers in Bihar Innovation
the unorganised Forum Award
sector, inclusive for Oraganising
education for the Street Vendors
children of informal workers, extending in Bihar and another prize for the insur-
legal aid and rights protection, and a social ance program for the Informal Sector
security policy for urban street vendors. workers. These awards are given by the
Bihar Rural Livelihood Promotion Society
The thrift and credit program of Nidan supported by World Bank. The Deputy
covers more than 20,000 workers. The pre- Chief Minister of Bihar, Sushil K. Modi pre-
sent turnover including linkages with banks sented the awards to the President of
is around Rs. 4 crore. A micro-insurance NIDAN, Ms.Prabhabati Devi, herself a ven-
program covers 26,000. Individual insur- dor associated with NIDAN from its
ance is also being encouraged and around beginning.
PROFILE 55
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Dr. M.P. PARAMESWARAN


(Leader of Popular Science Movement)

Widely regarded as a leader of popular science movement in the country, Dr. M.P. Parameswaran is a strong
believer in the teachings of Karl Marx and Mahatma Gandhi. He calls for some sweeping changes in India's
human society. The primary need, in his view, is evolution of a participative democracy. Every able-bodied
citizen should undertake societal responsibilities, not dictated by benefit for self or his kith and kin.

A Marxist and General Secretary of the Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad, he advocates enforceable right to
information and the right to recall unworthy elected representatives. The nation's overall economy should be
so structured that individual citizen's lives should become more and more free from global controls, he points
out.

Closely associated with Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (Indian Organisation for Learning & Science), Dr.
Parameswaran earnestly pleads for the nation's Science Agenda to be reset. It should find answers to ques-
tions posed by the problems of the poor and the disadvantaged. New priorities should emerge. Weapons
research should be done away with and space explorations and high energy physics should be accorded less-
er priorities compared to the health of the millions and sustainable agriculture. Development of cheap solar
energy should be preferred to nuclear energy "which is both limited and dangerously polluting." Industry and
business enterprises as well as habitat planning should be so integrated as to minimise time and human ener-
gy on travel of citizens to work and back. All these are wholly dependent on science and technology inputs
of a different kind.

Says Dr. Parameswaran: "Science and scientists can help the society to change tracks through a creative, infor-
mative and persuasive process. And, for this the scientists themselves have to change tracks."

A graduate in Electrical Engineering and Doctorate in Nuclear engineering, Parameswaran has served the
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre for about two decades. Currently the chairperson of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan
Samithi, a scientist-turned-social activist, he says there are two roads one that leads the "species to liberation"
and full development of humans as humans and another that leads to "species extinction" or species degra-
dation due to resource depletion and climatic catastrophes. Therefore, the question as Dr. Parameswaran puts
it, is: will we amass enough wisdom to change the course of human history, from the direction of destruc-
tion to the direction of emancipation ?
56 PROFILE
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

D.T. BARKI
(A Solar Energy Specialist)

D.T. BARKI, 49, has been in solar photovoltaic industry for last 25 years. A B.Tech graduate in Electron-
ics Engineering (1982), from KREC (now NITK), Surathkal, India, he has acquired international reputation
with solar PV technologies, through the successful implementation of solar projects (cells, modules and
systems). He applies his scientific, technical and management expertise to all aspects of the challenge to
implement sustainable energy services, especially, solar PV globally for the benefit of people and the
planet. He has extensive knowledge in setting up solar cell manufacturing and running them successful-
ly. Mr.Barki has several shop floor contributions in inventing many defect analysis methods in the solar
cell and module processing.

Present, he runs his solar business in his own company, Noble Energy Solar Technologies Ltd (NEST), at
Hyderabad, India (since 2001). NEST was started in 1998 with product launch in 2001, which manufac-
tures affordable solar modules and lanterns of international standard for the benefit of the really needy
people of the developing countries. NEST, under the stewardship of Mr.Barki, is the market leader in sell-
ing solar lanterns, esp., AISHWARYA® solar mini lantern brand in India. Now, NEST runs as an indepen-
dent organization in promoting solar lighting systems.

Mr.Barki has been conferred Ashden Light Award for 2005 by the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Ener-
gy, London. The award was given away by HRH Prince Charles on 30th June 2005 in London. Mr.Barki
won the Award for Light (£30,000) for developing a small solar lantern, Aishwarya™, which makes safe,
smoke-free light affordable for the poorest people. His ultimate mission, through solar technology, is to
make the world kerosene-free.

His technological and social skills are to bring light to life because he believes that life is light and light is
life. Mr.Barki completed 25 years of service in solar PV industry. In order to commemorate this silver
jubilee occasion, he is working on launching a worldwide campaign "towards creating awareness for Elim-
inating Light Poverty in the world."
58 ESSAY
CATALYST FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Can Scientists Do More for Development?


DR. SRINIVASA RAO

F
ROM a high-ranking politician to the poorest person,
everyone is responsible for the under-developed state
of India. Productivity is the answer to eliminating
poverty. Research and Development (R&D) has always
been the key to doing things better, faster and with less
energy. The discoveries of generations of scientists resulted
in numerous inventions that impact and improve human
condition. Developed countries garner a disproportionately
large percentage of discoveries and product generation
resulting in the betterment of their living standards.

Unfortunately, the disproportionate number of discover- majority of Indians. Solar energy is captured most efficient-
ies made in developed countries are for the benefit of those ly, 97%, in photosynthesis. Commercially available man-
who can afford novelties. Furthermore, the bulk of made solar photovoltaic panels have an energy conversion
research conducted in developing countries does not direct- efficiency of only 15%. NASA achieved 30% efficiency for
ly address poverty alleviation efforts. If India is to become space applications but at an increased cost. If Indian scien-
a developed country, it is absolutely essential to focus its tists can double the efficiency of commercial solar photo-
R & D efforts to poverty alleviation programs. voltaic cells, solar power can be affordable. If solar energy
is affordable, reducing poverty will be easier and faster.
India's expenditure per scientist is comparable to that of
developed countries. Despite the high expenditure, Indian R&D in the energy sector is critical not only to augment
scientists produce far fewer patents (Table 1) resulting in a our energy resources but also to attain energy indepen-
very high cost (Figure 1) per patent (1, 2 & 3). In India dence. In August 2006, the report of the Expert Committee
development of each patent costs $20 million whereas it on Integrated Energy Policy, published by the Planning
costs just $3.9 million in USA. A patent is a good measure Commission, recommended to provide Rs. 1,000 Crore (-
of scientific productivity. The data presented indicates that $250 million) for non-atomic energy R&D fund. Individuals,
there is much room for Indian scientists to increase their academic research institutions, consulting firms and private
productivity. and public sector enterprises can compete for grants from
this fund for identified and directed research (4). Even-
though the amount may appear to be small, if Indian scien-
tists can use this well, they can contribute in a meaningful
way to reduce India's energy poverty.

Solar R&D in the energy sector is mentioned here as an


example. There are several other fields which need the
immediate attention of Indian scientists. So the answer is,
yes, Indian scientists can and shall do a lot more for human
development!
Energy helps increase productivity. Affordable and reli-
able energy is recognized as an important factor in eradicat- REFERENCES:
ing poverty. India needs energy several folds more than
what is available now in order to develop and sustain 1. Patent data (2004), scientist data (2003
http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2006 table 13 - pp327-329 -
development. The current sources of natural gas and oil do 2. Population data (2004) -
not meet the needs in a sustainable manner. Cheaper, safer http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2006 table 5 - pp 297-299
and cleaner energy sources are needed. Thus, solar energy 3. GDP data (2003) -
http://www.theodora.com/wfb2003/rankings/gdp_
conversion should be a focus area for Indian research 2003_0.html
because of the promise it holds to improve the lives of the 4. http://planningcommission.nic.in/reports/genrep/rep_intengy.pdf
A historical initiative by
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Association for Human
Values and the United
Nations Millennium
Campaign...

.. to provide a platform
All-India NGO Summit for India’s NGO
community to work
at together in integrating
sustainable development
Art of Living International Centre, with a healthy planet
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Venue : Art of Living
Outlining the major environmental challenges that India must tackle; International Centre,
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can be imbibed into various NGO sectors; and
Promoting the integration of principles of sustainable development into the policies and Speakers include
programs of governments. H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri
SUMMIT DESIGN Dr. Ashok Khosla
The premise of the All-India NGO Summit's Triple Bottom-Line approach is in the recognition that Sunderlal Bahuguna
Ecology, Economy and Technology are interdependent. Dr. Vandana Shiva
The inaugural, panel discussion and closing sessions will be held at the Vishalakshi Mantap, an Kartikeya Sarabhai
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A ‘Dil Se Mela’ Exhibition will be held simultaneously.
Accomodation is available at one of the comfortable housing complexes at the International Centre.
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Salutes

Indian Scientists
and
95th Indian Science Congress
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