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From US to village India: IITian promotes rural innovation
Monday August 4, 2014 10:58 AM, K.S.Jayaraman, IANS

An IIT-Kanpur alumnus did something unusual on returning to India in the 1980s with a PhD degree from the US - shunning a lucrative career with a multinational to use his knowledge to develop technologies to solve problems faced by villagers.

He now shares his experiences in an e-book, intended to inspire youth to follow his path.

Anil K. Rajvanshi joined the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), an NGO working in Maharashtra's Phaltan, after returning to India in 1981.

NARI's work has been extensively written about and Rajvanshi is winner of several awards including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Florida where he did his PhD.

His just released e-book "Romance of Innovation" documents the pleasures and pains of doing research in rural India.

Rajvanshi said the e-book presents a brief history of renewable energy work carried out at NARI since 1981.

Each of its six chapters, ends with a list of ideas useful for people who are planning to develop a career in research and development (R&D) for rural areas, while the last gives a roadmap for the future development of rural India.

On NARI's accomplishments, he said it has "done pioneering work in all aspects of renewable energy affecting the lives of rural population like alcohol production from sweet sorghum; development of electric cycle rickshaws; biomass gasification; and production of the unique device -- 'lanstove' -- that simultaneously acts as a cook-stove and a 300-watt lamp".

"All our rural products exploit sophisticated technology and are not the result of tinkering here and there," Rajvanshi told IANS.

Rajvanshi said the aim of the book is to inspire youngsters to enter the field of rural innovation.
"It provides them a whole list of challenging ideas for research and development (R&D) to uplift rural life. The book also shows that very meaningful and satisfying R&D work can be done with meagre resources and fewer people in a small rural setting," he said.

"I hope it will provide inspiration to other NGOs who want to do a similar type of work," he said, adding the remarkable achievement by NARI in the face of tremendous adversity is an indication that it is possible to make progress in rural India if a large number of youngsters follow the path shown by NARI.

On why he did not make your book a priced publication, Rajvanshi said there is a "tremendous need to inspire and get bright young engineers for rural R&D" and he felt making the book available free may help in this effort.

(K.S.Jayaraman can be contacted at )

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