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Uddhab Bharali from Lakhimpur, Assam, a mechanical engineer by profession is a serial innovator who has invented dozens of devices primarily to help farmers and small scale industries. A college drop-out Mr. Bharali has won second prize in a contest held by the NASA Tech Briefs magazine in the US.
Uddhab Bharali’s pomegranate deseeder was chosen for a place in the Top Ten Most Popular Entries in the magazine’s Create the Future Design Contest 2012. Mr. Bharali was among 12,080 nominees, out of which 433 contestants were chosen for the online vote. The machine invented by Mr. Bharali separates the seeds of the pomegranate fruit from the outer skin and the thin inner membrane, a tricky and time consuming job when done manually. (Courtesy: BBC News)
Born in a middle class family in North Lakhimpur District of Assam, Mr. Bharali completed his schooling from Lakhimpur. His interest for machines prompted him to get admitted in the Jorhat Engineering College which he had to leave just after three months as he could not afford to pay the fees and had to care for his family. And that is what he is doing even today – Bharali currently lives with his widowed mother, wife, an eight-year-old son and two younger sisters in North Lakhimpur.
Later he tried to complete his engineering courses though the Institute of Engineers-India Madras Chapter, but unfortunately he could not complete the course and only had time to complete the AMIE Sec-a due to the sudden death of his father. He was called back as his family was neck-deep in debts. However, he used his flair for developing machines to repay his father’s debts by starting a polythene film making industry in 1988 to cater to the demand from the surrounding tea estates. Instead of buying the “Polythene Making Machine”, which then costed around four Lakh rupees, he designed and developed the same machine at a cost of only sixty seven thousand rupees. The success of this machine gave Bharali the confidence to develop more machines.
Since the development of Polythene making machine in 1988, Bharali has developed a number of machines, which he considers as his main assets that have and will always help in his time of need. Some of his major innovations are Pomegranate De-seeder, Arecanut Peeler, Cassava peeler, and Bamboo processing machines. Out of these Pomegranate De-seederhas been exported to Turkey and USA. His design for a pomegranate de-seeding machine was recognised as the first of its kind not only in India, but across the world.
In 2005, Bharali’s talent came to the attention of the National Innovation Foundation, Ahmedabad and they took him aboard as a grassroots innovator. He has also developed remi recortication machine, garlic peeling machine, tobacco leaf cutter, paddy thresher, cane stripping machine, brass utensil polishing machine, safed musli peeling machine, Jatropha de-seeder, mechanized weeding machine, passion fruit juice extractor, trench digger, chopper for cattle and fisheries feed and portable dheki. For many of his innovations, he was supported under the Micro Venture Innovation Fund scheme (MVIF) at NIF.
In 2009, he received President’s National Grassroots Innovation Award, which turned his fortunes overnight. Another of his innovations, the mini CTC tea plant, which aims to help small time tea pluckers and farmers, has also been nominated by the World Technology Network for the World Technology Awards 2012.
Presently, he has been associated with various organizations, NGOs and institutions like Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE), IIT Guwahati, NERCRMP (North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project), RUTAG (Rural Technology Action Group), and various NGOs for various projects.
Uddhab is of the view that every human being has a hidden scientific inclination, which requires nurturing. He thus selects youths having potential for learning, irrespective of their academic qualifications to which he provides training expenses too. At the moment, he is also trying to successful commissioning of a mechanized toilet for the handicapped.
Uddhab has two dreams; one is to set up an unconventional orphanage in his hometown, which will produce technical experts. He has designed the training module in such a way that he will devote time in empowering these orphans only in technical know-how so that they become employable in the least amount of time. His second dream is that of an industrial village which will have a multi-specialty skill development centre as well as a common facility where each person can bring in raw materials and get the intermediate product as per requirement.
He says “If you have goodness in your heart, you can conquer the world. I believe that the money you earn is of no use if you can’t use it to bring happiness to someone’s life.
I also want to appeal to parents. I want to tell them that they must raise their kids as human beings first and engineers and doctors later.
If they can’t become good human beings, their education and success makes no difference to society.”
Courtesy: National Innovation Foundation.