While one can dismiss this place as a quiet house of a retired Army officer, it has given a pedestal to many grassroots innovators of Telangana. “Whenever we think about entrepreneurship, the first thought in our mind is an app or some sci-fi technology.
However, not many acknowledge the innovations of rural people that actually solve everyday problems,” says Brigadier (Retd) P Ganesham, the brainchild behind a voluntary organisation called Palle Srujana.
Nestled in the bylanes of Vayupuri in Secunderabad, the house-cum-office displays many interesting innovations like a tool to plant small plants, solar-enabled mobile charging point, coconut tree climber and a weed plucking tool.
While one can dismiss the place as a quiet house of a retired Army officer, it has given a pedestal to many grassroots innovators of Telangana, including Padma Shri recipient Chintakindi Mallesham, a traditional weaver of Pochampalli silk saris who invented the Asu machine that processes yarn for saris mechanically.
Run only by volunteers, the organisation scouts, disseminates and aids rural innovators and creators. The 2005 incepted organisation has, so far, helped 250 innovators, out of whom 13 have got the President’s Award, two Padma Shris and 24 patents.
Ganesham’s interest in grassroots innovators was born with his stint in the Army, where he saw young jawans coming up with unique ideas during times of crisis. After retiring from the defence forces, he got associated with the National Innovation Foundation – India in 2005 wherein he met many rural innovators from the country and realised that there were no Telugu innovators listed.
“That is because there are no voluntary organisations. And I decided to take matters into my own hands and started Palle Srujana exactly 5 months after my retirement in November 2005. We started by going to villages and identifying creators and aiding them in getting funding via the NIF. However, we realised that there is a lot of untapped potential in the Telugu States which is quite different from the rest of India. For the documentation of these innovations, we started our Palle Srujana magazine in 2006 and have been publishing it since then,” he says.
So, how does it identify and help innovators? The answer is quite simple: Through their volunteers who are from varied spheres of life ranging from politicians to IAS officers to the young boys in villages. These volunteers spot an interesting innovation in some village and give them a call and then the team (who are also volunteers) goes to the village, identifies the innovation and then helps in documentation, applying for awards, scout for investors or sell the innovators product to the right customer.
It also conducts Shodh Yatras across villages in Telangana and AP with an aim to “make the unknown known more”. And that is what it does — volunteers go on a three-day knowledge pilgrimage to villages and identify innovators by just asking and showcasing previous innovations.
“Many interesting innovations have emerged from these Yatras and they have come from the most unexpected bunch,” he says recalling an incident where an innovator made a hand-held pesticide dropper from the scrap available around him.
The organisation is ably supported by 500 volunteers spread across both the Telugu-speaking States. It has also developed a unique marketing model for rural innovators, wherein one of their volunteers, Sudheer, acts as the mediator to sell the products at the right price.
Along with the Telangana State Innovation Cell (TSIC), Palle Srujana is now expanding its bandwidth to scout and recognise many such rural innovators. Any grassroots innovator can get in touch with the organisation through their website. #KhabarLive