Anil Gupta: the Grassroots Innovations Hunter

Someone had once said that India is the land of innovations. and I thought really? We have been the world’s back office for so long that it is all that we are known for. And not to mention the kind of talent our universities churn out every year. Where is the innovation happening? But hold on before you agree with me. Surprisingly, innovation is happening and that too in the places that we least expect; the rural heartlands of Bharat. And the man who is bringing these into the public eye is Anil K Gupta, the 53 year old professor at IIM Ahemdabad. Anil Gupte is the founder of the Honey Bee Network and also the mind behind the National Innovation Foundation.

Some of the inventions that he has discovered include the peddle powered washing machine, hand operated car for the physically challenged, windmill operated power generator and many others. And some have been real success stories like Masukhbhai Patel of Gujarat. Mansukhbhai hails from a small village called Nana Ubhada in Viramgam district of Gujarat and makes more than Rs. 2 crores annually and he is just educated till 10th. Clearly, lack of education does not close doors of opportunity.

Mansukhbhai is the inventor of the Cotton Stripper whose patent he sold to a US-based company and it is this invention that is the reason behind his amazing success. Today, he has moved from a village house to a bungalow in the city and drives his own car. His life has taken a complete turn and Anil Gupta is the magician who did it.

Some other inventions that have been successfully commercialized include M Nagarajan’s (a 46 year old from a village near Madurai) garlic peeling machine which was bought up by a Pakistan-based company , An anti-dandruff oil by Valsamma Thomas of Mannakudy, Kerala is being brought to the market by a Chennai based company and M J Joseph’s metal looped tree climbing device. Entrepreneur Kevin Davis has shown a keen interest in taking it to the US market.

Anil Gupta managed to scout these innovators through his Honey Bee Network. He later established Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI) in 1993 and Grassroots Innovations Augmentation Network (GIAN) in 1997. While SRISTI gives finishing touches to innovations, GIAN works towards facilitating ideas into products and sustainable enterprises. He also founded National Innovation Foundation (NIF) in 2000, here is what their vision is

to document, value-add, protect intellectual property rights, and publicise contemporary unaided technological innovations, commercially and non-commercially.

Here is also a TED talk by him on India’s innovation potential. He gave this talk at TED India 2009.

He also does Shodhyatras into villages and till date he has covered more than 2,700 Km on foot. It all started in 1998, when he trekked 200 Km into remote villages and the rest is history.

On his page he writes about his personal mission as

expansion of global as well as local space for grassroots innovators to ensure recognition, respect and reward for them; blending excellence in formal and informal science; protection of intellectual property rights of the innovators but also expanding open source as a part of ‘technology commons’; ethical issues in conservation and prospecting of biodiversity; linking innovations, investments and enterprise; creating knowledge network at different levels for augmenting grassroots green innovations and inventions in informal and formal sector. Helping organizations become more creative and innovative from bottom up and by learning from grassroots innovations.

You can find more about him on his IIM A page.

LINK: Prof Anil K Gupta

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing these info, Aditya! Though I had heard and read about professor Anil Gupta’s initiatives and how he is helping rural people to innovate, the talk was eye opening. His idea is brilliant. He is perhaps one of the few who don’t believe that, as he himself said in the talk, Poor too have a head.
    His initiatives also help in providing opportunities for those who deserve it irrespective of the financial/educational status of the people. This is in contrast with our governments’ failed attempts to uplift the poor by trying to support the poor with their basic needs and no particular initiative to help them grow.

    • Aditya Kumar Nayak

       True.. the talk is really amazing..glad that you liked it

  • Ruhi

    That’s really a wonderful initiative by Anil Gupta. What it shows is that there;s so much scope… people without much education have come up with such valuable innovations, I think if we can extend proper education to our villages, we can do wonders… Thanks for sharing!

    • Aditya Kumar Nayak

       sure. the ‘proper’ education is a huge factor in killing creativity..just look at out our top schools and colleges :)

  • Amogh Jain

    thats a really nice initiative,thanks to people like him,rural india is getting that recognition and ultimately india is developing :)

  • Burhanthaker

    my invantino is cars run 80kmpl 1 liter patrol