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National Innovation Foundation sleeps as millions drown

Posted by on 26 September 2008

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National Innovation Foundation sleeps as millions drown

33 years back, yeah, thirty three, that's in 1975, a boat-man refused a trip to safety unless he was paid. The person whom he refused, Saidullah was from Jatwa-Janerwa village and it was flooded during the monsoon. He pleaded but was refused the ride to safety. That was a defining moment in the young man's life. He went back to his humble abode and proved the old adage, Necessity is the mother of all inventions, right in just 3 days. Three days of a sublime creative process made him to come up with an ingenuous creation, the amphibious bicycle which could easily negotiate the floodwaters. He modified the conventional bicycle by adding four rectangular air floats to support it while it moved on water. Two fan blades were attached to the spokes of the rear wheel which enabled it to run on both water and land.The blades were arranged in such a fashion that the cycle could be driven in reverse direction too. Later, Saidullah demonstrated the prowess of his vehicle before a stunned crowd, which included the then state governor, AR Kidwai, when he crossed the river Ganges in Patna city.His big shining moment came in January 2005, a full 30 years after his invention, when the then Indian President, APJ Abdul Kalam, presented him with the National Innovation Foundation's (NIF) lifetime achievement award.In the same year, he was selected as one of the 12 finalists for the prestigious Wall Street Journal Asian Innovation Awards. He was also profiled for the Discovery Channel's "Beyond Tomorrow" programme.In fact, he has won so many awards that he has lost count of them all.

Now is where the fun starts. After Kalam's eye was cast on him, the National Innovation Foundation[NIF] was so impressed that they took away his bicycle and offered to get it patented. But three years later, 2008, Saidullah has neither got the patent nor the bicycle.Today, he lives in penury. Everyday, he pedals about 30 kms on his bicycle to sell honey so that he can feed his family of 16. But the work brings him a paltry 1,500 rupees a month. Unable to make the ends meet, he has now put up his roadside half-thatched, half-concrete house and the small plot of land - in Mathia Dih locality of Motihari in East Champaran district - on sale. His disillusionment is such that Mr Saidullah wants to return all his awards and trophies."If you want to destroy someone, give him an award," he says. After the bicycle, Mr Saidullah also invented an amphibious cycle-rickshaw and takes his grandchldren for a joy-ride in a nearby pond. "But IHis big shining moment came in January 2005, a full 30 years after his invention, when the then Indian President, APJ Abdul Kalam, presented him with the National Innovation Foundation's (NIF) lifetime achievement award.In the same year, he was selected as one of the 12 finalists for the prestigious Wall Street Journal Asian Innovation Awards. He was also profiled for the Discovery Channel's "Beyond Tomorrow" programme.In fact, he has won so many awards that he has lost count of them all.

Now is where the fun starts. After Kalam's eye was cast on him, the National Innovation Foundation[NIF] was so impressed that they took away his bicycle and offered to get it patented. But three years later, 2008, Saidullah has neither got the patent nor the bicycle.Today, he lives in penury. Everyday, he pedals about 30 kms on his bicycle to sell honey so that he can feed his family of 16. But the work brings him a paltry 1,500 rupees a month. Unable to make the ends meet, he has now put up his roadside half-thatched, half-concrete house and the small plot of land - in Mathia Dih locality of Motihari in East Champaran district - on sale. His disillusionment is such that Mr Saidullah wants to return all his awards and trophies."If you want to destroy someone, give him an award," he says. After the bicycle, Mr Saidullah also invented an amphibious cycle-rickshaw and takes his grandchldren for a joy-ride in a nearby pond. "But I feel hurt by what the NIF has done to me. They used us for their promotion," he says."May I know how many innovators like me have been benefited and how many of us have been destroyed by them?" asks Mr Saidullah, with pain creasing his face. If one could imagine, how many lives could have been saved if this invention, the 'floating cycle', was mass produced and given away as flood relief to the very needy or the 'floating-ricksha'' at-cost prices, the figures every way are mind blogging. But what does the NIF have to say?

NIF executive chairman, Anil Gupta, is sympathetic to Mr Saidullah's plight: "We tried a lot, are still trying and will keep trying to explore things being done for Mr Saidullah's amphibious bicycle. But yes his frustration is completely understandable."Despite our best efforts, for some reasons we failed to generate any entrepreneurship for his bicycle. We've given him the innovation fellowship of a fixed amount and we are ready to support him in future too," Mr Gupta said. Mere words. So much that the photograph of the cycle is not available at all. And now the Bihar Govt has stepped in too. A senior official in Bihar state's science and technology department, Ajay Kumar, told that he would do all he could to help Mohammed Saidullah. "Though there is no structured schemes for commercialisation of such innovations in my department but we would certainly help him in getting his product patented after talking with the NIF," Mr Kumar said. When?

According to Mohammed Saidullah's son, Mohammed Shakilurrahman, the family was not always poor. Mr Saidullah inherited acres of land, orchards, elephants and a big house from his father.But, the rural scientist sold all his property to pursue his innovations, his son says.He blames his father's "sheer madness" for the family's poverty.He too sells honey in the state capital.
However, Mr Saidullah's bitter past experience has not stopped him from moving on to new things. After the amphibious bicycle, he developed a key-operated table fan which can run non-stop for two hours, a mini-water pump that needs no fuel and a mini-tractor which can run for two hours on just five litres of diesel.

Now, he claims he's making a helicopter which would cost Rs.25,00,000 and a car that would be powered by air energy.His dark, dingy workshop is crammed with a hand-made lathe machines and countless corroded nut-bolts littered on long rusty iron racks.But it's his favourite place. "I love to be here all the time," he says. Where would he go once his house and land is sold off?
"I'll make a three-storey moving car with folding cots, pack my family in and park it on an open government land by the roadside anywhere," he says.The maverick innovator says he draws inspiration for his innovations from his everyday experiences. He has named all his creations after his loving wife, Noor Jahan."Noor means light and Inshallah a day would come when there would be light in our life too," says Saidullah.


Amen.
feel hurt by what the NIF has done to me. They used us for their promotion," he says."May I know how many innovators like me have been benefited and how many of us have been destroyed by them?" asks Mr Saidullah, with pain creasing his face. If one could imagine, how many lives could have been saved if this invention, the 'floating cycle', was mass produced and given away as flood relief to the very needy or the 'floating-ricksha'' at-cost prices, the figures every way are mind blogging. But what does the NIF have to say?

NIF executive chairman, Anil Gupta, is sympathetic to Mr Saidullah's plight: "We tried a lot, are still trying and will keep trying to explore things being done for Mr Saidullah's amphibious bicycle. But yes his frustration is completely understandable."Despite our best efforts, for some reasons we failed to generate any entrepreneurship for his bicycle. We've given him the innovation fellowship of a fixed amount and we are ready to support him in future too," Mr Gupta said. Mere words. So much that the photograph of the cycle is not available at all. And now the Bihar Govt has stepped in too. A senior official in Bihar state's science and technology department, Ajay Kumar, told that he would do all he could to help Mohammed Saidullah. "Though there is no structured schemes for commercialisation of such innovations in my department but we would certainly help him in getting his product patented after talking with the NIF," Mr Kumar said. When?

According to Mohammed Saidullah's son, Mohammed Shakilurrahman, the family was not always poor. Mr Saidullah inherited acres of land, orchards, elephants and a big house from his father.But, the rural scientist sold all his property to pursue his innovations, his son says.He blames his father's "sheer madness" for the family's poverty.He too sells honey in the state capital.
However, Mr Saidullah's bitter past experience has not stopped him from moving on to new things. After the amphibious bicycle, he developed a key-operated table fan which can run non-stop for two hours, a mini-water pump that needs no fuel and a mini-tractor which can run for two hours on just five litres of diesel.

Now, he claims he's making a helicopter which would cost Rs.25,00,000 and a car that would be powered by air energy.His dark, dingy workshop is crammed with a hand-made lathe machines and countless corroded nut-bolts littered on long rusty iron racks.But it's his favourite place. "I love to be here all the time," he says. Where would he go once his house and land is sold off?
"I'll make a three-storey moving car with folding cots, pack my family in and park it on an open government land by the roadside anywhere," he says.The maverick innovator says he draws inspiration for his innovations from his everyday experiences. He has named all his creations after his loving wife, Noor Jahan."Noor means light and Inshallah a day would come when there would be light in our life too," says Saidullah.


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Comments (5)


Comfortably_dumb wrote on 26 September, 2008

He can take part in Google best ideas contest, Project 10^100.

Ranger wrote on 26 September, 2008

What is the point of winning so many awards if the the innovation cannot be fructified? Wright Brothers did not get any award, there are many inventions which passes the theory test but actually not feasible, may be the the amphibian cycle is just one of them, about 15 years back 2 professors of Jadavpur University created ripples when the claimed that they discovered a cheap x-ray technique which will cost Re 1 and can be taken on plain paper, but it fizzled out in real trials. His effort is definitely laudable but I am wondering why there are no takers for his invention, it does not cost a fortune to make the cycle and he can easily manufacture and sell them, either it does not work in a real condition or there is no need of it.

maverick58 wrote on 26 September, 2008

@Ranger
Crossing the Ganges is no mean feat. At patna its close to 1 km wide. Add to it the moving current. And APJ Kalam cannot be hood-winked so easily can he? I hope some one witha mechanical engg background reads this.

sharmila wrote on 26 September, 2008

Yes, agree with maverick58, Prof. Kalam cannot be fooled and so we should not comment without proper knowledge.

spirited wrote on 30 September, 2008

Holy Cow! What a cool innovation, where can I test ride this vehicle?


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about blogger Under the bludgeonings of Fate, my head is bloody, Yet UnBowed..

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