Small Steps Big Leaps



Tired of being abused by their drunken husbands after a hard day’s work, women in a Pune neighbourhood found a rescuer in Aparna Darade’s Ahilyatai Rangnekar Brigade. Named after a Maharashtra-based leader of the Communist Party of India, this organisation is said to have solved 124 cases of corruption and domestic abuse in Pune since its founding three years ago, and claims a membership of several thousand women. The organisation is known for its relentless determination to bring cases to justice. Famously known as the Red Brigade because of the bright sarees the members wear while protesting, they have a unique justice-seeking process. Members chant, drum and march until the accused agrees to reform. This method has proved so effective that when perpetrators are sent the initial warning letter by the Red Brigade, they are invariably pressured by family, friends and police to comply in order to avoid being shamed.


It’s not often that we see someone give up a luxurious life abroad in pursuit of something socially meaningful. Shuvajit Payne, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), gave up his job abroad to work for his country. His vision is for rural India to become self-sufficient and truly developed not in terms of GDP but in terms of social happiness. At first, Payne worked to ensure that farmers can get their right share of agro-produce, and minimise the possibilities of middlemen in agricultural trading. He later widened his ambit to work on issues such as migration, shifts of occupational pattern, food security, over populated cities and food inflation. Payne has been religiously addressing these issues in various parts of rural India for the past four years and calls it ‘a life-changing experience’. He hopes that the youth of this country will awake, rise and come forward to join this mission — thereby making a big difference in the lives of thousands of villagers.


Four Nagpur girls have taken innovation to another level by designing the prototype of a low-cost system that can spread eco-friendly mosquito repellent vapour in all rooms of a building, without the use of electricity. The girls came up with the idea while attending a science workshop. After discussing their ideas with researchers at an organisation, Jigyasa Research Centre (JRC), they built the product they called the Community Mosquito Repellent Bank. The device is to be installed on the terrace of a building. A chamber in the system contains neem, eucalyptus, citronella and other oils. This chamber is connected to a solar panel that heats the ingredients, creating vapour. The collection chamber also has a solaroperated exhaust fan that pushes the gas to spread in every room of the building through ducts. Hence the system helps drive away mosquitoes in an eco-friendly manner with the added bonus of saving electricity.


Mesmerised by the brightness that defines the festival of lights, three children from Mumbai decided to add to the celebration with a unique idea of designing lamps and lanterns that run on solar energy. The trio of 14-year-olds — Muskan Tuttan, Shardul Datar and Parth Shinde — came up with the idea of replacing regular lights with eco-friendly ones for Diwali. Using miniature solar panels, they connected them to the outer surface of regular lanterns, and inside clay diyas. Usually kept near windows or balconies, these mini solar panels absorb light from the sun and generate energy, enough to power the led bulbs connected to the lanterns and diyas. The lanterns are then attached with batteries to help them last for 8-10 hours. These lights can be used on several occasions, making festivals a guilt-free affair.



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