By Himanshu Shukla
This is part one of our blog series on “Technological Innovations in Rural India”
As it is often said, “necessity is the mother of invention”. Talent can be found anywhere, and this is visible in the multipurpose modified Royal Enfield engine. They can be seen mostly in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, India.
Earlier, old bikes ran on petrol, now diesel engines are also available in the market. When I visited my friend Ankur’s village Pedhla, near Jetpur city of Rajkot district in Gujarat; I was surprised to see how modified diesel engines were used by the locals. From the transportation of goods to conducting agricultural activities like ploughing and spraying of pesticides or fertilizers; modified diesel engines were used everywhere. It was even being used for commuting as well! The name given to this vehicle by people of Gujarat is Chakda and it’s been in Gujarat since the 1970s. I saw this as the best combination of creativity and sustainability in terms of its economical utilization.
Sign Up for our course on Frugal Innovation
According to RTO (Regional Transport Office) of Rajkot, nearly 10,000 chakdas are moving on roads** and this number is very small considering the size of the state of Gujarat. However, its local availability makes it significant.
There are many reasons why chakda became the lifeline of rural Gujarat in India. During my exploration, I tried to figure it out by meeting the villagers. Why do they not prefer the usual small tractors, which are better designed for agricultural purposes? Why do they prefer chakda? How does chakda make their life easier?
To begin with, chakda has one big advantage over other vehicles available in the market is its adaptability. Even though a mini tractor is available in the market at a price range of Rs. 2 – 3 lakh, the problem arises with its associated parts. Add-ons are required for agriculture activities. If a person already has a cultivator or a plough, then it’s easy to reuse them with a chakda by welding. The mini tractor in comparison becomes a costly affair. One has to make a trip to the tractor company (which is usually far off) for modifications. The chakda, on the other hand, allows for modifications locally at welding shops. This way not only is it convenient to use but is easy on the pocket as well.
Figure: Tractor with cultivators used for ploughing the field
Figure: Chakda use for commutations inside the cities
From Cows to Chakda: Why the Transition?
It is common in rural Indian culture to worship cows and have livestock at home for various agricultural purposes. The transition from cows to chakda took place due to the following reasons:
- As farmers chose to grow cash crops, the availability of fodder for the livestock went down drastically
- The emergence of water scarcity also had a negative impact on livestock in rural areas.
- Vehicles like the tractors have a big turning radius when compared to chakda. This made chakdas easier to handle especially in the black soil which is found throughout in the state of Gujarat.
- People of Gujarat were quick to learn how to manufacture chakda Add to this, when the locals learned the art of servicing and modifying the engines, the adoption rate of chakdas grew at a fast rate. Today, this vehicle is used for many goods transportation, agriculture activities, commutations, and in some cases even as an ambulance.
- The rental model allowed people to use machines for several hours and pay by the hour.
Figure: Livestock of a farmer in Gujarat
An interesting thing is that some of these modified machines can run on kerosene as well. There was a time when kerosene was cheap thanks to government subsidies. Nowadays, with petrol/diesel pumps are easily available in rural India, kerosene is not used that widely.
Figure: Showing usage of the vehicle for spraying pesticide or insecticide
Source: Ankur Khanpara, PhD Research Scholar at CTARA, IIT Bombay
Technological Innovation at Grassroot Level in Rural India
Many innovative technologies are developed locally rather than by any qualified engineers. The best part is, most of these technologies are community-driven self-initiatives which are invented based on the needs of society. Chakda is one of those technologies which has been very helpful in rural areas of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat.
Besides several advantages, technological innovations like chakda have some downsides as well. One major drawback of chakda is its non-compliance with the pollution norms of India. As most of these vehicles work on old engines, and with lakhs of these vehicles are running on the roads of Gujarat, it will have a negative impact on the environment. With the livelihood of several locals dependent on chakda, no strict laws have been implemented on its usage as of now. The policymakers on their part are working towards coming up with a viable solution that could benefit the local population without compromising on the environmental aspects.
To Know More About India – Browse our Courses
by Himanshu Shukla and Divya Badri
Holi is a festival of spreading love. It usually takes place during the month of “Phalguna”. This is a month in the Hindu calendar and usually falls around February or March. During this festival, people meet and greet each other by gently applying color. The traditional colour is called Gulal, and applied on each other’s face during Holi.
What is the Story behind Holi?
The festival of Holi goes back to the story of Lord Krishna; venerated all over India mainly in “Sanatan Dharma” (also known as Hinduism)
Why Do People Play With Colors?
Legend has it that when Krishna was a baby, he was attacked by his power-hungry maternal uncle. He survived the attacks as a baby but this resulted in the colour of his skin turning blue. Pre-teen Krishna had a very good friend, a girl named Radha. He was worried whether Radha and her friends liked him or not, due to the colour of his skin being so different. So, he went to his mother and asked for advice. His mother casually advised him to playfully put color on Radha, so that no one could differentiate between his and others’ skin colors. The plan worked and the friends played a colourful Holi happily!
Such a beautiful idea! Imagine a world full of people who look Green, Blue, Red or Yellow or Purple. A simple idea, given by Krishna’s mother to him, remains valid. Once you playfully colour another in vibrant Holi colours, you become unrecognisable. Differences based on class, caste, colour, religion, creed, sect, disappear. On Holi, everyone plays together inclusively. It demonstrates –
how playing with a little coloured powder and some water during Holi, could make one very happy!
Watch our Video on Holi:
Preparation for Holi Celebration
Holi preparations begin at home, one or two weeks in advance. All start making papad and sweets and many more dishes depending upon famous dishes in that region. People clean their homes and all family members come together to celebrate this happy festival.
Playing the game
On the morning of Holi, once the delicacies are ready, people visit each other. They greet by applying colors on each other’s faces and hugging. One welcomes guests with homemade sweets and dishes. Celebrators gather together in open spaces and dance to music to their heart’s content. The atmosphere is that of togetherness, positivity, and equality. You wear old clothes while playing Holi. They will be later reused for cleaning as mops or dusting towels. Isn’t that a sustainable way of celebration?! This concept of reuse/reduce have been practiced as tradition by Indians over generations.
Gulal and other Holi colours
Remember we spoke of Gulal, the colour? Earlier, Holi colors were made at home with materials available at home. With the industrial revolution in India, the manufacturing of artificial Holi colors came into practice and the traditional gulal took a back seat. Here is how, you can bring back organic colours into your holi celebrations.
Advice for Holi: How can Organic Holi Colors Be Made At Home?
Organic Holi colors are not only safe for the skin but also sustainable for the environment. Before running off to play Holi, make it a point to apply some coconut or sunflower oil all over your body. This will help you get rid of the coloured marks later. You can make Gulal (powdered color) by using any flour present in your home (wheat/non-wheat) and mixing in the right amount of organic colouring. Different organic colors made at home from vegetables and flowers are coming back in use. For example, boiling roses in water give red, green is possible from spinach and yellow from other flowers. These colors mixed with different flours and dried give you the organic Holi colours.
When celebrating Holi, you wish each other “HAPPY HOLI”. Diversity and inclusion as some of their biggest challenges in some societies. Cultural differences could make it hard for some to understand how inclusivity and gender equality are achieved, even celebrated in India. This blog on Holi focusses on the positives of an old Indian tradition, that has been coming down since generations, and now finding its way into different corners of the planet.
Join our community by engaging with us. Follow us on our social media channels. You can also hit the bell button when you subscribe to YouTube. Like and share! Tell us your thoughts about inclusion!
This holi, we wish you all HAPPY HOLI. Let’s play Holi sustainably!
by Divya Badri
Women and girls in science need greater representation internationally. Gender equality is a sustainable development goal number 5. Why is gender equality in science important for sustainable development in India or anywhere else in the world? Equal access to education and opportunities is essential. This applies not only to societies in the Global North but also in the Global South. Be it in Switzerland or in India, it also applies in the field of science and tech.
Finding solutions to end gender inequality requires female role-models. Higher numbers of women scientists and technologists could inspire young girls to take up this field as a profession.
A Woman in Science from India!
Archana Sharma is an Indian living in Geneva, Switzerland. In India’s respected and widely read national daily The Hindu, she shares the challenges she faced. “It was challenging to do a Ph.D in a place where I had to get through exams in French, a language totally alien to me. Designing and building detectors from scratch was another tough task. There was no weekend, no holidays, and with a young child, it was an uphill task. But I had to take these challenges head on.” Dr. Archana Sharma works at CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research, which is located in Geneva, Switzerland. She was part of the team that discovered the famous God particle – the Higgs Boson.
Quantum physics is a challenging subject already, moreover, being in a completely different culture could not have been easy for Dr. Sharma when she began her journey.
Of Subatomic Particles and Hope for the Future
When CERN has its open day in Geneva, never miss the chance! My first impressions from the European Centre for Nuclear Research on the Swiss-French border are incredibly captivating.
Physicists at CERN will always tell you they know that they know nothing. They delve into the goings on of subatomic particles. They seem to have gotten the big picture a lot more clearly than so many news headlines! It was refreshing to meet people who are seeking the truth via science. The monotonous humdrum of daily news and politics are soon forgotten. You then hope for a better future, when immersed in seeking answers via giant, underground experiments.
“Take photos and talk about us!”
CERN asks people to come and discover the future with them. CERN has an ancient, extremely old symbol from Indian culture right in the Centre of their campus. Why is there a Shiva statue (a Hindu God) in the middle of CERN? Visit their website where they answer this in French and in English. Listen to Aldous Huxley explain the dancing Shiva in his interview from the 1960’s!
Usually, one is told to keep cameras away while visiting prestigious capitalistic establishments. In the true spirit of seeking the truth and collaboration, Dr. Archana Sharma from CERN encouraged me to take photos. A woman who has dedicated her life to science, told me to spread the word about their establishment of knowledge! The feeling in the air was just so calming and nice, equitable, authentic. It truly felt sustainable for years to come.
Inédit en Suisse : un CAS en négociation et valeurs interculturelles avec Chine, États-Unis, Inde, Japon et Russie
L’Université de Neuchâtel lance un nouveau CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) unique en Suisse à l’intention des entreprises ayant des contacts en Chine, aux Etats-Unis, en Inde, au Japon et en Russie. Cette formation, qui vise à améliorer les capacités de communication et de négociation, démarrera en janvier 2020. Délai d’inscription : le 15 novembre 2019.
L’environnement économique s’est globalisé et internationalisé lors de ces dernières décennies. Les entreprises ou administrations sont en contact continu avec une multitude de pays dont les coutumes, les mœurs, la manière de commercer, de communiquer et négocier, peuvent être très différentes de notre manière de fonctionner. Pour maximiser les opportunités d’entrer en contact avec d’autres partenaires, il est important de comprendre les différences et se préparer à ces rencontres et échanges.
Un CAS inédit
Le Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) en négociation et valeurs interculturelles vise à améliorer les capacités de communication et de négociation (simple et complexe) et permet de mieux appréhender les aspects interculturels. Tout en traitant les théories et les problématiques générales, juridiques et économiques, le programme se concentre sur le défi de négociation dans cinq contextes différents (Chine, Etats-Unis, Inde, Japon et Russie), qui représentent ensemble un grand potentiel d’affaires pour les entreprises suisses.
Contrairement aux formations existantes dans le domaine de la négociation, les enseignements se concentrent sur les aspects socio-culturels et psychologiques plutôt que sur le cadre juridique et les spécificités légales.
Chaque participant aura la possibilité de rédiger un travail personnel avec le suivi des responsables, en rapport avec son expérience personnelle et les apports du CAS.
Ce CAS s’adresse notamment aux entrepreneurs et aux cadres d’entreprises et d’administration. Informations et inscriptions sous
Les cours du 6 mars et 15 mai 2020 sur le sujet de l’Inde sont dispensés en anglais. Les autres cours sont dispensés en français.
|Commerce international et principes juridiques||Commerce international et développement ; Libéralisation du commerce et compétiti- vité ; Migration et commerce international ; Commerce international et environnement ; Les principes juridiques du commerce international / Droit de l’OMC / Droit de la concurrence.|
|Valeurs et différences interculturelles||Ce module porte sur cinq pays avec cinq enseignements indépendants: la Chine, les Etats-Unis, l’Inde, le Japon et la Russie. Pour chaque pays, les thèmes suivants seront abordés: l’histoire et le système politique et économique du pays, les relations avec la Suisse ; les différences dans le processus de la communication ; les manières de développer une sensibilité interculturelle et d’entrer en contact avec ses ressortissants, de se présenter et d’élargir son réseau.|
|Opportunités chez les grandes puissances asiatiques||Les opportunités et les défis dans les relations avec les deux grandes économies asiatiques (Chine et Inde) sont présentés à travers des exemples dans divers secteurs en lien avec les entreprises suisses. Le module traite également des possibilités de développer des affaires, de s’ouvrir aux défis de demain et offre une analyse critique des enjeux et opportunités qui se présentent à notre pays.|
|Négociation||Ce module se divise en deux parties. La première traite de l’introduction à la négo- ciation, de ses stratégies, tactiques et de ses outils. En utilisant des cas et des exemples réels, nous aborderons également les erreurs les plus typiques en négo- ciation, et les techniques pour les éviter. Une deuxième partie appréhende les effets psychologiques de la négociation: mise sous pression, outils qui permettent de la détecter, réaction à la pression, avec la mise sur pied d’ateliers pratiques.|
|Soutenance des travaux personnels et synthèse||Ce module permettra à chaque participant de présenter son travail personnel et d’engager une discussion sur la problématique abordée.|
• Cadres d’entreprises et d’administration
• Entrepreneurs et responsables de start-up
• Décideurs politiques et économiques
• Membres de conseils d’administration
• Toute personne intéressée par la négociation et les valeurs interculturelles
Les intervenants ont un lien étroit avec le pays qu’il présente.
15 novembre 2019
Master ou Bachelor d’une haute école suisse ou titre jugé équivalent. Les personnes bénéficiant d’une formation professionnelle adéquate et d’une expérience professionnelle d’au moins cinq années dans le domaine étudié peuvent être admises sur dossier. La direction du
programme peut inviter les personnes candidates à un entretien, afin d’évaluer leur expérience et leur motivation, en assurant l’équité de traitement entre elles.
Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) en Négociation et valeurs interculturelles à l’intention des entreprises dans les pays suivants : Chine, Inde, Etats-Unis Russie et Japon, assorti de 12 crédits ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System).
Dates et lieu
Le programme de formation s’étendra de janvier à octobre 2020, à raison de 15 journées, (principalement les vendredis) de 9h15 à 16h. Les cours sont dispensés dans les locaux de l’Université de Neuchâtel se trouvant à proximité du centre et de la gare de Neuchâtel.