December 2010
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India's most powerful Rural Entrepreneurs


Bangalore: Mansukhbhai Jagani, Madanlal Kumawat, Mansukhbhai Patel, Chintakindi Mallesham and Mansukhbhai Prajapati are among Forbes's list of seven most powerful rural Indian entrepreneurs, whose "inventions are changing lives" of the people across the country.


IIM-Ahmedabad Professor and Founder of India's Honeybee Network, Anil Gupta, has selected the seven most powerful rural Indian entrepreneurs for a compilation in Forbes magazine.


"India's villages have become a hot bed of innovation, as its rural poor develop inventions out of necessity. Several of the people on this list have no more than an elementary school education," Gupta says.


Mansukhbhai Jagani developed a motorcycle-based tractor for India's poor farmers, which is both cost effective - costing roughly $318, and fuel efficient (it can plow an acre of land in 30 minutes with two liters of fuel).


After 4-5 years of experiments, Mansukhbhai developed an attachment for a motorbike -- a multi-purpose tool bar -- in 1994. This could be attached to any 325cc motorcycle by replacing the rear wheel with an assembly unit.


The 'super plough' called Bullet Santi (a cultivator that pulverizes or smoothens the soil is locally called as santi), can carry out various farming activities like furrow opening, sowing, inter-culturing and spraying operations.


A farmer, Mansukhbhai Patel invented a cotton stripping machine that has significantly cut the cost of cotton farming and revolutionized India's cotton industry.


Patel who studied up to Class X, invented a cotton-stripping machine in 1991.


Patel's machine helps in removing cotton from semi opened and unopened shells of various cotton varieties. The machine has won a U.S. patent.


Mansukhbhai Prajapati, a potter, invented a clay non-stick pan that costs http://www.siliconindia.com/images/rupeesymbols/rs.small.jpg100 and a clay refrigerator that runs without electricity for those who cannot afford a fridge or their electricity and maintenance costs, Gupta said.


During the 2001 earthquake, all earthen pots were broken. "Some people told me the poor people's refrigerators are broken. They referred to the 'matkas'(pots) as refrigerators. It struck me then that I must try to make a fridge for those who cannot afford to buy a fridge," says Prajapati.


The patent winning Mitticool has been the most challenging product for him. It needed a lot of experimenting. He started work on it in 2001, the product was finally ready by 2004.


In 2005,he started the non-stick tava (pan) business. "My wife could not buy a non-stick tava as it was costly. So I thought many people would be facing the same problem. That's when I designed the non-stick tavas, priced between http://www.siliconindia.com/images/rupeesymbols/rs.small.jpg50-100," he says.


Also on Gupta's list is Dadaji Ramaji Khobragade, who invented the HMT rice, a highly successful rice variety which yielded 80 percent more rice than the conventional variety.


HMT is now grown all over India, on 100,000 acres in five states.


Madanlal Kumawat, a grassroots innovator with no more than a fourth-grade education, developed a fuel-efficient, multi-crop thresher that yields cleaner grains, which can be bagged directly and eliminates the cost of cleaning.


The modified thresher reduces setup time to less than 15 minutes to switch over from one crop to another. Its latest variant can also handle groundnuts apart from threshing other cereals and pulses.


Anil Gupta said Chintakindi Mallesham, inventor of the Laxmi Asu Machine, "ignited a revolution in India's weaving community."


Mallesham's machine can make six saris worth of material in one day, and "no human effort is required beyond placing thread on the machine and removing the material after the process is complete."


Weavers making the traditional 'Tie & Dye' Poochampalli silk sarees used to undergo a painstaking process, moving their hands thousands of times in a day while weaving sarees. But not any more.


Thanks to Mallesham's patented device to mechanize this process, hundreds of weavers in Andhra Pradesh now spend less time on making a variety of designs.


There are 30,000 women weavers in Andhra Pradesh who continue to do the weaving process manually as they cannot afford to buy the Laxmi Asu machine. They are looking for help as the government has failed to extend any kind of support.


Next on the list is Future Group chairman Kishore Biyani . Called the 'Sam Walton of India', Biyani's company operates about three million square feet of retail space in 25 Indian cities.


Social entrepreneur Anshu Gupta who founded GOONJ, a system that transfers used clothing and household goods from India's rich to its poorest communities, also featured on the Forbes list.


Gupta collects 30 tonnes of cloth every month and distributes it across 20 states. "He has an amazing reach, a simple network and excellent supply chain management," Gupta said.


Troikka Pharmaceuticals managing director Ketan Patel is 'India's pain-killer'.


Patel's business focuses on developing painless solutions for medical procedures. He developed the world's first painless iclofenac injection, which helps alleviate acute pain and inflammation.


Patel's passion for innovation has been in the area of Novel Drug Delivery, wherein he has several patents to his credit.

 
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