Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), a rural NGO in Phaltan, Maharashtra has published a book on the renewable energy (RE) work done at the Institute. The e-book entitled “Romance of Innovation” has been written by Dr. Anil K. Rajvanshi, the Director of NARI and presents a brief history of renewable energy work carried out under his guidance.
“The aim of the book is to inspire youngsters to enter the field of rural innovation and to provide challenging ideas for research and development to those who already are converts”, said Dr. Rajvanshi.
NARI has done pioneering work in all aspects of renewable energy affecting the lives of rural population, specifically in alcohol production from sweet sorghum, development of electric cycle rickshaws, biomass gasification and production of excellent devices like lanstoveTM for rural households. NARI is also the principal author of national policy on Taluka energy self-sufficiency. In all these technological developments, Dr. Rajvanshi and his team have followed a unique approach of using sophisticated technology for development of rural products, as opposed to the tinkering approach, sometimes called Jugaad, which is generally followed in this kind of work.
“Too often the record of research and development (R&D) is written up as articles in journals and books. The human interest story of the way the research was done, interactions with the stakeholders and the pushes and pulls in doing it are left out of the record”, said Dr. Rajvanshi.
“This book is an attempt to record these details. It also shows how R&D can be done in a small rural institute and should provide inspiration to other NGOs who want to do a similar type of work”, said Dr. Rajvanshi.
Dr. Rajvanshi has written in an engaging style about the romance of doing research in rural setting and has shown that with meager resources and few members of staff, very meaningful and satisfying work can be done. “It is often said that good R&D requires lot of equipment, money and manpower. Work on renewable energy at NARI has shown that it is possible to do good work in little money and resources”, said Dr. Rajvanshi.
There are six chapters in the book, out of which four describe the hardware development work carried out in household energy (cooking and lighting); gasification; electric cycle rickshaws and water-related problems. Two chapters deal with philosophical issues and out of them the last one gives a roadmap for the future development of rural India.
This chapter outlines a roadmap for rural India and explains the author’s philosophy of improving the lives of rural poor-one hut at a time. It is based on the author’s vast experience of interacting with the rural population and development of hardware aimed at improving their wretched lives.
The book is a very interesting read as it emphasizes the human interest aspect of problem solving for rural India. The future research areas described at the end of each chapter will certainly be very useful for persons who are planning to develop a career in research and development for rural areas.
The picture of India which emerges from the pages of this book is disheartening, but at the same time the book is like a ray of hope for those who want to pursue the path outlined by Dr. Rajvanshi. The considerable achievements of the author in the face of tremendous adversity show that future progress is possible if a large number of youngsters follow the path shown by him.
The book is available free of cost and is available on NARI website. Dr. Rajvanshi explained that there is a need to inspire and get bright young engineers for rural R&D and thus making the book available free may help in this effort.