As we work with wannabe entrepreneurs and students who are creating products, prototypes, models and businesses we have worked across some really interesting ideas that promise to make a social impact. Here are some of the projects, prototypes and products we have been guiding :
Sanitary pads are highly used products but come with a problem of eco-friendly disposal. India produces approx 113000 tonnes of disposed sanitary pads with menstrual waste each year which is growing rapidly. According to reports from environmentalist groups sanitary pads prevalent in India are 90% plastic with super absorbent polymers and non-woven plastic components that make it extremely difficult to dispose off. Since these products get mixed with the regular home waste during disposal, segregation becomes a problem adding the issue’s dimensions.
A potential solution to manage this waste is providing local machines that dispose these products at a local level (at homes or societies or village vadis) preventing their mixing up with regular wastage and ensuring quality disposal locally.
In this project we are trying to build a low cost low maintenance product that’s easy to install and needs minimal maintenance. Its aimed at being installed in buildings homes and common areas of societies and buildings.
Environmental issues caused due to plastic bags is known to all of us. Surveys suggest that plastic bags of small sizes used by informal sector trade products form over 60% of the menace. Kirana shops, vegetable vendors, milk product vendors and even large organized category vendors selling branded products use a lot of plastic bags. Surveys suggest that a low cost similar tensile strength easily available alternative can substitute the demand for these plastic bags reducing the menace in a big way.
News papers are an interesting low cost easily available raw material that’s available in plenty with consumers and these traders. With some additives and processing news papers can be made equally tensile to help carry some of these materials. If installed in societies, shops and shopping complexes consumers can easily pick these up and a major change can be driven in this area. It can also generate employment and local reuse of a lot of paper.
By way of this machine we are attempting to build a low cost, news paper and other material based bag making equipment that can be installed in public places to help consumers and shop keepers reduce their dependence on plastic.
Farming is an age old profession, science and art all at the same time. Our ancestors were largely famers and the knowledge of farming is deeply known and understood by our immediate parental generation. Traditionally lack of scientific intervention has rendered farming very unproductive as a profession for farmers at large in India. The ROI on farming is low and as labor migrates to cities from villages in search of better ROI professions, availability of labor issues are plaguing village farming.
Countries with better setups are able to export essential vegetables to India at lower prices than our own heartland farmers owing to lack of storage and transport means.
With cities attracting migration the demand for vegetables, fruits and flowers is increasing rapidly. The low supply has led to increase in prices.
Farming in India in largely non experimental and happens with constraints of soil, water availability, season based fixed crop options etc. However a lot can change if we altered the approach by looking at reducing the size, going modular and vertical. Imagine if farming were done in small modular boxes of soil instead of farms, where soil could be changed as needed, watering could be done as needed, sunlight exposures could be managed, health treatments to crops provided when needed and farming done vertically instead of horizontally.
A typical building/high rise balcony/ flower bed or common area gives each flat about 40 to 50 sq ft of space for modular farm boxes of 2 sq ft to be placed one beside the other. This can be doubled or tippled if these boxes are placed one above the other. With 50 to 100 families giving out this space to be managed by a full time farmer, locally home grown veggies and income to a farmer can both be achieved of the economic model is worked out.
With micro farming we are attempting to build the infra needed in terms of equipment for a family to start local micro farm cultivation, We also aim to build a services based program to help families grow their local veggies under assistance from a farmer and giving him/her employment. The fun of cultivating your own veggies also makes it a great exercise for children to learn and keep connected with their ancestral and critical know how of the farming profession.
India’s education system continues to disappoint with its results. Be it employability of Graduate & Post Graduate students, be it the lack of focus on social values in urban schools, be it the language and understanding gaps in rural school children we are producing low quality and low capability students.
Schooling in India today gets focused on imparting know how and evaluates students on their knowledge of prescribed curiculum. A complete personality development demands more. There is a dire need to impart Sharirik (Physical endurance), Boudhik (Intelligence), Maansik (Mental composure), Aadhyatmik (Spiritual) and Saanghik (Team work) abilities in children to ensure there is a complete development of the individual. Communication Skills, Logical Reasoning, Visual Reasoning skills, Verbal skills, Team working skills, Leadership skills, Ability to think out of the box, Application of knowledge, Swaavlamban (Self help), Enterprise, etc are basic aptitude capabilities children need to be trained on. A lot of these get imparted by the overall schooling environment and co-curricular activities of interesting teaching methods that build these faculties in children. This complete set of abilities called Sanskaar of Achaar and Vichaar (Behaviour and Thought) is largely missing in the formal education system today.
Teaching methods is another area where a lot needs to be done. Concepts are taught with least practical application making subjects boring. Memorization focused exams and evaluation of teachers on student marks and curriculum completion leaves low or no incentive to innovate in teaching methods.
Teaching being a relatively low remuneration profession seems to be getting low quality applicants. The result is low quality teachers, poor teaching methods, academic focused schools without very low focus on co-curricular teaching that builds the right environment for education.
Takshashila over the last 8 years is building and experimenting on building co-curricular programs that offer a Sanskaar focused environment, curriculum and teaching methods that can augment these skill, aptitude, behaviour and knowledge gaps in the formal education for children across ages. By way of Baal Sanskaar kendras (1st std to 8th std) , Abhyasikas (5th std to 10th std) and Micro Gurukul (Above 11th std onwards) Takshashila is delivering testing the results and improving this curriculum.