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India’s “deviant research” roadshow: helping amateur inventors improve lives; Honey Bee Network now repository for more than 10,000 inventions

Posted by gmarkets on 4 October, 2007

Examples of “deviant research”, so called because they were developed by amateurs trying to solve problems that dogged their daily lives, rather than to make money, were outlined in New Scientist (22/9/2007, p.56).

Ordinary problems, ordinary people: A pedal-powered washing machine, for example, was invented by Remya Jose, who as a 14-year-old schoolgirl from the Malappuram district of Kerala in south India found that the time it took to wash clothes by hand was getting in the way of her studies. Such grassroots innovations were driven by adversity, so they were often created by people who were prevented by problems of language, literacy or geography from getting their inventions into the hands of others who might have a use for them. As if these weren’t obstacle enough, deviant researchers risked being ridiculed by their own communities for daring to try to banish their problems in this way, rather than putting up with them like everyone else.

Tapping deviant genius: One effort to overcome those barriers and oil the wheels of deviant R&D was the Honey Bee Network, set up almost 20 years ago by Anil Gupta of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. It was Gupta who coined the term “deviant research”. The network used community organisations, local-language newspapers, multimedia presentations and other channels to find deviant researchers. It then connected them with each other and to scientists and other academics, who could test the inventions and provide help with patents and business plans. The Honey Bee Network was now the repository for more than 10,000 inventions.

Deviant roadshow in India: One example was a bike that went faster when ridden on bumpy roads, developed by Kanak Das, who lived in an isolated part of northeast India. Energy from the shock absorbers was used either to help turn the pedals via a set of springs or, in Das’s latest prototype, to charge batteries, creating an electric bike. The Honey Bee network also talent-spotted inventors during its twice-yearly Shodh Yatra (Sanskrit for “walk to find knowledge”). These week-long treks took Gupta and a crew of facilitators through remote regions of India at a pace slow enough to stop.

New Scientist, 22/9/2007, p. 56

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One Response to “India’s “deviant research” roadshow: helping amateur inventors improve lives; Honey Bee Network now repository for more than 10,000 inventions”

  1. Divealive said

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