Necessity is the mother of all innovation, and when combined with an inquisitive mind and a desire to explore uncharted territory, it can give birth to a phenomenon named Udhhab Bharali.
Born in a humble background in Lakhimpur of Assam, Bharali — who has over 100 grassroots inventions to his name — had a love for mathematics and a keen desire to learn more. This led to him getting two double promotions, as Bharali graduated from the Government Secondary School at the age of 14.
He, then, procured admission in the Jorhat Engineering College but left due to instability in the region, and went on to join the Institute of Engineers-India Madras Chapter, but had to leave the course again following his father’s death in 1995.
But having to drop out of courses twice and debts left behind by his father did not deter Bharali, as he started a polythene manufacturing business, and owing to lack of finances created his own polythene making machine for just Rs 67,000, which would have ordinarily cost him over Rs 4 lakhs in the market.
The success of his machine boosted Bharali’s confidence, and enabled him to repay all debts, and he decided to courageously venture into unknown terrain with a contract for maintaining machines at a hydro-power plant near the China border, a region most people avoided working in.
But these cost effective ventures were just the beginning, as he came back three years later and went on to invent engineering devices, which are mostly meant to assist for developing agriculture in the country .
Bharali’s work came in the spotlight when author, engineer and eco-technocrat Arnab Jan Deka wrote articles about him in prominent newspapers of the state , and finally in 2006 his simple pomegranate de-seeding device was recognised as the first of its kind in the world.
Bharali said , “Americans were not able to solve the problem of de-seeding pomegranate for over 30 years. I am glad to have succeeded in achieving this feat.” His inventions include a manual Paddy Transplanting device and a mini CTC plant to help small time tea pluckers.
Captivated with the undying enthusiasm for inventing, Bharali also develops equipments which can be operated easily by disabled people, and selects less literate rural minds for a three-month training program for using machines effectively.
Udhhab Bharali, who has awards like the ‘President’s Grassroots Innovation Award’ and has won NASA’s Technology Award , looks at technology with common sense, and this reflects in the simplicity of his innovations.
Bharali has an informal degree in Homeopathy and enjoys reading about medicine, as he looks forward to serving the needy, and also plans to get his widowed sister-in-law married.
Uddhab has two dreams for now; 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. Once they start earning money, they will be able to acquire knowledge on other important subjects like history, mathematics,sociology etc.
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 also wants to enable senior citizens to learn scientific skills to become self-dependent when it is no more assured that younger children would take care of them in old age.