Sneha Chakraborty

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Street children are often labeled as homeless and unfortunate as their lives are narrowed down to survival. But they are no exception to talent. The lack of insight into the lives of those who manage their livelihood along sidewalks has led us to believe that their abilities are less than that of others. When in reality, talents don’t seek a six-figure income or an apartment in the heart of a city. The potential of an individual can only be identified when they have a right platform to serve their passion and Kerala Government’s new scheme is all about breaking this myth. 



The Social Welfare Department in the state is all set to open the first Tejomaya home in Kochi, a facility that will train street kids in cracking civil services examinations. Children who have completed education up to STD 10 will be hosted by this triparty initiative in association with the District Panchayat and a partner NGO. The District Panchayat's land in Edakkattuvayal in Ernakulam will soon open the first home which will be exclusive to girls. 

"We have around 1,200 children living in rescue homes across the state. But unfortunately, there is no segregation here on the basis of skills. Some of the students are self-motivated and bright academically, while the others aren't.  By letting the bright kids mix with others, we're playing a role in demotivating them. So we thought of opening these homes to train the former group exclusively," says Biju Prabhakar IAS, Special Secretary-in-charge of the Department of Social Justice and Women & Child Development of the Government of Kerala.



Besides helping them with civil services exams, they will also help them with skill development, horticulture, production centers and other divisions of work. "We're hoping to make this a model for other homes too," Prabhakar says. "We're associating here with the Kerala Academy for Skills Excellence (KASE) to train these children and make them employable and independent at the earliest," he adds.

The students will be chosen based on their academic excellence only and will be trained in order to guide them towards a better future. Brands like the Taj Group are also associating with the project by picking up students to train them under their wing and Prabhakar is hoping that other companies should also take such initiative and help them understand the global marketplace. This positive and constructive approach taken by the government will help facilitate self-development along with pushing them to become the ‘central actor’ in their own lives. 


The railway network is deeply ingrained in the core fabric of Indian culture. From the trains flying down the tracks, or peeking outside to see the landscape speed by from that much-fought-over window seat, a train is not just a transport but rather an experience that stays with people. Along with the crowd-pleasing aspect of this mode of commute, there are matters of horror that are to be dealt with every day, ranging from social to political debates. But these matters often bears little to no relation to one very important topic - sustainability. 

What’s easy is to run things the way they have been, but getting up to the next level of advancement, is a tough shell to crack. Despite being aware of the harmful effects of diesel engines, the issue was more talked about that worked about. But recently, Indian Railways took the first step towards addressing this problem by turning a diesel locomotive into an electric one. In a record time of 69 days, Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) in Varanasi conducted the conversion during a mid-life locomotive rehabilitation, saving 50% of the costs. 



According to the railway officials, the cost of rehabilitating an engine is around 5 to 6 crore whereas the conversion only billed them with 2.5 crores. In December 2017, they choose a WDG3-class diesel locomotive for the purpose and started working on it around February 2018. Along with cutting a huge slack to the environment, the overall output of the locomotive jumped from 2600 HP to 5000 HP i.e. 92 percent more than before. 

With twice as efficiency and a huge save in carbon footprint, this is a huge milestone for Indian Railways and the nation’s development. Alongside contributing towards nature by leaps and bounds, we can hope that soon the entire train network will run on an electrified network and sustain the ecological balance better than ever. 

Learning the professional dynamics of a field that tackles with some of the world’s biggest problems, engineers often change the world, literally. From cybersecurity to disaster management, they are found working in almost every department of cause or case. In other words, they are superheroes without the cape. Today, this vast stream of study has opened up a wide array of opportunities for students, and besides a gorgeous career, the lucrative aspect of the job is also a major attraction. 

But there’s much more to engineering that we may think. Three final-year B.Tech students of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham college in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu decided to invest their abilities and work for a greater cause. Aiding to make the lives of the disabled more comfortable, they developed a self-driving wheelchair called the ‘Self-E’, a robotic automation system that enables the person to move with the help of auto-navigation. “With a simple touch on the map displayed on the mobile screen, the wheelchair takes them to the destination. They can have complete control over the wheelchair without anyone’s help. On the other hand, if some patients have a problem in using a smartphone, a friend or family member or assistant can use the Android App to transport them without the need to physically push the wheelchair,” said student Chinta Ravi Teja to Gadgetsnow. 



A laser and a smartphone application, the chair works on the map of surrounding space, reading static and dynamic objects. The person will just have to tap on a spot on the map in and the wheelchair will locate it and move in the same direction.

“The Self-E self-driving wheelchair is unique in the sense that it is the first self-driving wheelchair in India built by research lab of a university without any collaboration with foreign universities or companies. It now needs to be tested in different environments like hospitals and airports with patients and wheelchair users. The current version is a successful prototype and, with the help of Technology Business Incubator of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, we hope to commercialize the product,” said Dr. Rajesh Kannan Megalingam, Assistant Professor of Electronics & Communications and Director of Humanitarian Technology Lab at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. 



The commercial other commercial models by brands available in the market are very expensive as most of the technology used is imported. Self-E chairs are made from reused materials and thus, if all goes well, these chairs would be available in the market for an affordable price of Rupees 1 Lakh. 

Playing at the forefront of technology, they have managed to not only implement their professional skills but also contributed to social welfare. The scale of the project they have taken up is not only economically astounding but also serves a humanitarian purpose. The many problems faced by the healthcare industry today calls for innovative solutions. And inventions like this will empower the youth taskforce to work for a greater cause along with providing essential services to people around the globe. 

There’s this very popular urban myth in the fashion industry that the most glamorous stuff always grinds the environment around us to death. If we replace the word always with sometimes or often, the equation can be called a fact because not every chic looking piece of accessory kills the green. Many think that it is near to impossible that humans will ever get to use eco-friendly and fashion in the same sentence, but Mrunmayee Pendse Chaudhari and Shilpa Dahake’s initiative ‘Beej’ is proving otherwise. 

The duo has come up with an upcycling initiative that turns thrown away seeds into jewelry with a trendy bling. They collect the seeds from residents, ice-cream parlors and juice corners where the seeds often end up in the trash bin. “After attaining a bachelor’s degree in architecture, I opted for a diploma in ecology and restoration, during which I was exposed to sustainability, ecology and how as an architect can matter. We worked on coming up with alternatives required in today’s world. Later when I came back to Nashik – my hometown, I started thinking about changing the ideology of people and promoting sustainable living. I discussed the idea with one of my friends and together we ended up opening ‘Urban Dialogue’ in June this year. We deal in three fields – architecture, ecology and upcycling,” says 28-year-old Mrunmayee. 



Before weaving them into beautiful designs, the seeds are treated with anti-termite to avoid any rotting. The shape or color of the seed is left unchanged as the natural pastel-toned element makes them the perfect for all type of occasions. “Our idea was to create an alternative to modern jewelry using natural material which we throw away without any thought, for instance, Sitafal or tamarind seed or have in ample. While we store a share of collected seeds to plant more saplings, the major part is used to create jewelry”, tells Ms. Chaudhari.

For every pair of earring, the cost is between Rupees 100 to 250 and a matching necklace set can cost you around Rupees 250 to 350. Once they are worn out, you can throw them into the soil for bio-degradation and it would help avoid piles of toxic waste. 



“The price also depends on the design and intricacy of accessories. For instance, some people request for a particular thread color or size of the earring. An individual can place an order either via Instagram or Facebook and request for delivery across India. As far as maintenance is concerned, we just ask our customers to store earrings in a dry place,” they added.

The duo has sold more than 200 pairs of their jewelry proving that eco-fashion is not at all un-cool. Their holistic approach to trendy designs are not just improving the value chain of their business but also gave a message loud and clear - extortion of nature to satisfy mankind is a choice, not a necessity. 


"WE ARE IN SPACE.” These were the words tweeted on the night of 4th December by Kris Nair moments after SpaceX launched Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket. Launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday night, the world hailed Elon Musk for another successful benchmark in space history. But the 12-letters posted on Twitter held an untold and epic story that put India on the map by having its first private satellite up in space.

Known as Exseed SAT1, the satellite launched by Elon’s trademark company SpaceX is expected to be an asset for radio operators. But the credit behind this astounding moment goes to the man behind Exseed Speed, a Mumbai-based space firm who formed the core of this mission. Kris Nair who hails from Neyyattinkara, Kerala brought home this achievement after building a commercial scale spacecraft with a budget way less than usual. Typically it takes years and millions of dollars to put together one satellite. We have now demonstrated that it is possible to build reliable commercial-grade spacecraft in a matter of months without spending a lot of money," said Nair in an email interview.

The 36-year-old scientist who started his first company named Navigator Media Intelligence dropped out of Indian Military Academy after an accident. He pursued his higher education in applied physics and since then he diverted his career towards space science. "We are ecstatic and humbled to share that last night, Exseed Space became the first Indian private company to have a satellite in space," Nair said.



Whether it is higher education or getting the perfect job as portrayed in teen-movies, we tend to believe that the other countries have better opportunities to offer. Yes, there’s some truth to this ideology but our approach to this has blindsided potential India holds. Talking about the struggles and making it big from India Nair said, "We're here to bring space closer. To make its benefits available to every government, every business and every human on the planet. We are now aiming to make space flight simple, reliable and accessible to businesses and organizations of all sizes and help create a world-class space ecosystem in India. The small step is done, it is time for the giant leap now," he said.

Putting India on the map of historical space events, Nair has made his country proud with his revolutionary project. "We would like to thank ISRO, Antrix Corporation, Dept of Space, Spaceflight, SpaceX, our subsystem vendors and partners who helped our fledgling team actualize our dream," he said.

Just think about it for a second, we complain about toxic emissions and air pollution from fossil fuels but aren’t we also choking these resources by using them excessively? From crude oil to coal to natural gas, the outrageous and unplanned consumption of fossil fuels has pushed us on the verge of a world-energy meltdown. For over a decade, we have been trying to work out the kinks of producing everything that precedes with an ‘e’, meaning electronic, to slow down the depletion rate of conventional fuels.



A Cambridge-based micro-mobility firm recently came up with a solution devoted to a prime concern in the world of e-scooters. When electronic scooters first came out, people adopted the new technology enthusiastically only to realize later that there are certain safety risks that come with it. Soon, people started criticizing the lack of rider’s safety and damages in shared mobility plans. A few months back, Superpedestrian, a micro-mobility firm has claimed to bring ‘self-healing’ scooters on the roads by 2019 who will be able to self-diagnose their problems.

CEO and company’s founder Assaf Biderman has claimed that the scooters will have 18 months lifespan and a backup of several days, bringing reliability for the riders. But Biderman also understands that “When it comes to mechanical design, there’s no magic bullet.” He stated that there’s no other alternative to try the scooter out to judge its performance.



Back in November, a major e-scooter player Lima had to call off two models from the market as they were either breaking in half or the batteries were burning up in flames. Considering the health hazards these e-scooters can carry, Superpedestrian will have ‘vehicle intelligence’ that will keep a check on factors such as temperature and voltage. If the scooter faces any mechanical failure, it will first try to perform an automated maintenance. In case it could not resolve the problem, take itself offline after issuing a support ticket. The scooter then will be repaired by manually by a human mechanic.

This technology can be the big break in the automobile industry as people are switching to eco-friendly solutions faster by the minute. It will not only safeguard the driver and the passenger but will also promote among users the need to save the fossil fuels. In a world where everything is going AI in a snap, some criticize that one day these gadgets will also become the end of the human race but a breakthrough like this only proves that our creations come with a control. It’s upon us whether we let the technology push the buttons or take the lead and control the same. 

From compelling narratives and well-crafted storylines, movies are nothing less than a catalyst of social change. The furious nature of film and cinema has entertained the human race for decades, but more importantly, it brought teaching and morals with the action and romance. In the modern universe of Netflix and Hulu, people engaged behind the cameras turn to glitz and glamour to fill up their pockets. But there are some who are taking the maximum advantage of this medium to drive social changes and create something bigger than a film. 



In 2018, Akshay Kumar released his biographical drama ‘’ which reflected upon the lack of awareness about menstrual hygiene in the Indian society. Shining along with the other conventional element was a social message that caught everyone’s attention and led to huge campaigns in the country. But this moment was not only limited to the boundaries of our nation, as after the viral outreach of the movie, but a Dubai teen also adopted 250 girls from rural Maharashtra and donated them sanitary napkins to get the message going. 

Riva Tulpule, an 8th standard student and resident of devoted her time to collect funds for this noble cause. She then flew down to India last week when she distributed the one-year stock of sanitary pads in Sahapur taluka. “I saw ‘Padman’ some months back and came to know about problems faced by girls during the days of their periods. I immediately decided to do something for girls living in villages in India, especially Maharashtra."



Riva, whose family hails from Maharashtra said that she managed to collect enough donations from appeals in Dubai that she could fund 250 girls. The pads were distributed in an event organized by Davkhare’s NGO ‘Samanvay Pratishthan’, an organization devoted to creating social movements. 

There is no better weapon than movies to fight against the perils of society and tiny ripples of messages can turn into waves that can drive an actual change in the society. The effort Riva made to forward the message and directly impact the lives of people is an example of how things come full circle. 

Have you ever read or heard about lakewater conservation or people fighting to save the only source of freshwater? Chances are that your answer will lean more towards ‘maybe’ and not a snappy ‘yes’ and there’s a very shameful reason behind that. When The Hindu published an article titled ‘Lakes are the most ignored water body on earth’, they meant every word of the title. The number of these small water bodies that have dried up or chocked to death with pollution puts the nation's conservation resume to shame. 

Recent reports about Bellandur and Varthur lake in Karnataka were weighing heavy on government. With their toxic waters creating chemical fumes, it seemed like the state had no hope for saving the lakes from dying. But what most of us think as an impossible feat to achieve, Hebbagodi lake is a standing example that we can conserve anything if we are willing to put our minds to it. 



Hebbagodi lake in Bengaluru, which was literally a garbage dump a few years ago was so deep in the toxicity of chemicals and waste products that saving it sounded fiction. But today, it’s India’s largest floating artificial island that has earned a place in the Limca Book of Records. The 12,000 square feet island is now greener than ever and supported by a vast population of hydroponic plants. In order to support the cleaning process, they have curated rafts from re-used PVC pipes that along with helping the hydroponic process also clears the water. The aim is to balance a pH level between 6.5 to 8.5 to flourish plant growth. 



The lake’s transformation and a revival started in August 2016 when Biocon India and its subsidiary, Syngene International took it up under their corporate social responsibility programme. They constructed a 1.5 km long bund around 67,000 cubic meters of soil, which increased the water holding capacity told retired wing commander, GB Athri to TOI. They installed energy-efficient cascading aerators to help dissolve oxygen, laid underground conduits to save from oil spill and performed many operations before their mission saw the bright light of hope. 

This wasn’t the first reported case of shrinking lakes. Dwindling freshwater marshes is an alarming issue that many of us don’t know about because they are not reported in the prime time or make it to the first page. The transformation of Habbagodi is exemplary, and to follow in the footsteps of such projects to save the lakes is to initiate a long-awaited solution of water body conservation in India.

From the many and frequent headlines of struggle to clearly visible downsizing of the farm economy, if we say that farmers in India are cursed with misery, it won’t be far from the truth. With technology in the lead role, it initially failed to uplift this sector with its magic wand. But, the government has acknowledged that agriculture needs grassroots support before it can be served on a silver platter to machines and AI for the next step. Reiterating the same, Karnataka government during Bangaluru Tech Summit 2018 proposed a tech-led intervention that can solve this problem once and for all. 

According to a recent NITI Aayog report, an average Indian family earns less than Rupees 10,000 per month, putting 22.5 percent of these below the poverty line. 68% of the country’s population who practice other professions earn 3.12x more than farmers. The shift of balance, in this case, is contingent on familiarizing farmers with helpful technology, its implementation, and review. Addressing the same, on the Day 2 of Bengaluru Tech Summit 2018, a panel addressed how interjecting technology in different stages of farming can double their income. 



Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati said that farming is a coin whose two sides are technology and access to the market. He also suggested that the farmers should sow their seeds by thinking of the future and not about the past. "The technological improvement that has happened in the last few years has not entered the interiors. Food productivity has come from more lands and from yield gains," said Suren Tikoo, Director of Research - Breeding and Development of TIERRA Seed Research. 

According to Manoj Rajan, IFS and MD of Rashtriya EMarket Services Pvt Ltd, the farmers are not getting the true price for their yields because of the market fragments. "A farmer doesn’t have an opportunity to decide when he has to go to the market and at what price he has to sell it," said Manoj. The state government of Karnataka has initiated to form a national commodity exchange or an agri-market exchange where farmers can bid electronically. 



Whenever India has stepped forward to integrate technology with the rural zones, a common problem has been observed - lack of information. Majority of farmers aren’t educated or beside their degrees, they find it difficult to catch up with the technology. Senthilkumar Radhakrishnan, Academic Dean at the GPS Institute of Agricultural Management, says that he attempts to solve this particular problem by teaching B.Sc Agriculture dropout about the matrix of agriculture and how they can reap the benefits better. 

Farming in India has faced more than expected struggles and the first step towards solving any problem is realizing it. The panel discussion that revolved around many such issues and established a clear path of progress that can change the coming years for agriculture and help cure long-standing diseases in the economy. 


Nothing says ‘progress’ like defining the power to share knowledge as for all. The classic learning stereotype in India has an ‘equality’ problem. Respecting a professor of almost same age turns out impossible, the success of a junior always leads to envy for the senior and the false concept of ‘knowledge that comes with age’ is just sticking with people like a chewed gum. In order to succeed, the country needs to work within the very boundaries of education reforms, says who? This 11-year-old kid teaching B.Tech and M.Tech students is asking the same question and is shattering the illusion of age-limitations in teaching. 

Mohammed Hassan Ali is being popularised on social media as a ‘wonder kid’ from . Ali is studying in 7th grade and like any other student of his age, he wakes up in the morning for school, kicks the ball in the evening with friends and completes his homework by the evening. But it’s his after-hour chore that has taken the internet by storm. By 6-pm, Ali goes to a teaching institute where he coaches students twice his age, studying for courses like engineering in college. 



“I have been doing this since last year. I go to school and I I am back home at 3 pm. I play and do my homework. By 6 pm, I go to the coaching institute to teach civil, mechanical and electrical engineering," he told ANI. According to a report published by TOI, Ali doesn’t charge any fees for his services and aims at teaching thousands of students by the end of 2020. 

The noble idea to teach the future engineers came to his mind while watching a video on the internet of qualified Indians picking odd-jobs abroad to pay for their meals. “I was watching a video on the internet about Indians doing odd jobs in foreign countries even after studying. That is when it struck my mind that what is it that our engineers lack? I realized it is primarily technical and communication skills that they are not well aware of. Since my area of interest is designing, I started learning and teaching the same,” he explained. 



Civil Engineer G Sushma, one of Ali’s students, said: “I have been coming here for a month-and-a-half to learn civil software. He is younger to all of us here but manages to teach quite well. His skills are good and what he teaches is easy to comprehend.” Sai Revthi, another student at his institute told ANI: “I am an M.Tech graduate and have been here for a month. He (Hassan) teaches many courses. He is good at his job.”

Similar to learning, the desire to teach has no age limits. There is no ‘right age’ or our brains aren’t hard-wired in a way that will allow us to share knowledge only after certain digits in our calendar. Not only Ali’s will to educate people is proof of that but also condemns a social stereotype that portrays the image of a teacher as a wise old fella who has beginning to show some white hair. And it’s passion like his, that makes us proudly call the youth the future of this country. 

Considering the lack of resources people face in off-grid locations, scientists are developing a cooling device that won’t need any power source and can help store food and medicine in remote locations. Removed from the hustle-bustle of cities, the people in such places often face harsh conditions where storing any spoilable item is highly unlikely. Because of such scenario, people often suffer from malnutrition and diseases which can be avoided if they could preserve basic necessities.  



The cooling system is designed in such a way that it allows the emission of heat at a mid-infrared range of light. It can then pass out through the atmosphere and then radiate into the cold of outer space. The MIT scientists, including one from India, have designed two versions of the design, both using a small metal strip to block the sun’s direct rays. 

For example, Boston in the United States experiencing a temperature of 28-degree Celcius and in a place like that, the device can provide cooling as much as 20-degrees below the ambient temperature. In the initial proof-of-concept test, they have attained a cooling of 6-degree Celcius. "We built the setup and did outdoors experiments on an MIT rooftop. It was done using very simple materials and clearly showed the effectiveness of the system," Bikram Bhatia, a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, said.



Previous attempts to manufacture such passive cooling devices have created some successful products but they are not available for domestic use and are also very expensive. The current model developed by the MIT researchers is an amazing step forward from the other models as it is comparatively cheaper and easy to access. One of the challenges that the scientists are working on is the humidity in the atmosphere that can block some of the infrared emissions but it is expected to perform well in dry and arid areas. “While most research on radiative cooling has focused on larger systems that might be applied to cooling entire rooms or buildings, this approach is more localized," said Evelyn Wang, a professor at MIT.

Residents of remote communities often describe their experience as a life in the ‘middle of nowhere’ and when they’re saying that, they’re not kidding. No matter how casually they adopt it, the struggles often take fatal turns. This invention will not only help them with better nourishment, medical facility, and storage but will also help them with a capsule of life-aid that they can access despite the harsh environment. 


Voting is indeed a slippery slope. A seemingly slow and meaningless process in India that in aggregate becomes quite powerful but still, with no incentives in sight, people drown themselves in excuses, as deep as they can. But real men vote. They stand up and count themselves in the process that they know can make all the difference. In a world where a huge chunk of the human race still dreams of a day when they would be able to cast vote, 26-year-old Santosh came up with an idea to make everyone realize the power within to make themselves heard. 

Santosh stood at the polling station in Khategaon Dewas, waiting for his turn to cast the vote. The sheer excitement and impatience on his face were because his wife was expecting to deliver their child. After casting his vote, he immediately rushed to Indore to see his wife. Enthralled by the voting experience and pumped up with thoughts about the electorate process, he decided to name his child, ‘Matdaan’. “I wanted to encourage every person in state and my locality to vote. I thought this was the best way to do so,” said Santosh.

His spur of the moment decision was well-understood by him and his wife. “He might face some problems with the name in school later and can change it if he wants. For now, I am doing what I want to. I am sure all the members in my family will agree to this once I tell them about my decision,” said Santosh. 

Even though his wife got admitted on 27th, he traveled 120 kilometers to his village and made it back just before his son was born. “I couldn’t miss it at any cost,” he said. Not only he had a legitimate reason to not cast the vote, but he was also miles away from his village. He knew that having a stake in the election process makes him a free man, an element that’s way more important than whether you’re vote matters or not. 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re voting or not, one should appreciate the right they have in their hands. One should not just vote, they should cherish it and love it, imagine it as a characteristic of a free society. And you must consider it the most important thing that a man can ever do. 

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