Thursday, 24 October 2013


Majority of us follow the society’s rule book of studying hard through school and college to get a good job, and eventually working hard to climb up the corporate ladder. Suprio Das from Kolkata was also taught the same rules and he did follow them to his corporate life, only to realise that there is a lot that can be accomplished by working on his own. After many failed and some successful innovations, Suprio Das has successfully created a revolutionary product that will aid ground water purification in the rural areas.

Statistics show that every minute a child dies of waterborne diseases. Educating the masses regarding water purification is one aspect but more importantly making resources available tothem is an uphill task. Mr.Das’ determination to solve this problem, prompted him todesign ‘Zimba’, an automatic chlorine dispenser or water chlorine doser that is proving to be a boon against impure ground water. Zimba is a unique chlorine dispenser that has no moving parts and thus is very low on maintenance. The only thing Zimba needs is regular chlorine replenishment but the cost of water chlorination is only INR 5 – 10 per 10,000 litres, which is very affordable considering the cost of medication for waterborne diseases and associated severe repercussions. It is based on the auto-siphon mechanism, dosing chlorine at a specific water level. According to Mr. Das, “Zimba is substantiallydifferent fromother existing water dosersthat have the ability to disburse chlorine depending upon water level”. Zimba does not consume electricity either and can be fitted to a common water pipe that supplies water to over 60 families.

Born in a middle class family in Shillong, Suprio Das is aware of the problems in obtaining clean drinking water and wanted to do something for the society. He has worked with several NGOs like Aqua Welfare Society, GOAL India and Shipping Health to make safe drinking water available.Shipping Healthhas performed research on arsenic content in water and ways toreduce, if not completely eliminate, the level of arsenic in water. He soon found himself working with IDDS (International Development Design Summit) an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) initiative to collaborate with ‘like-minded people’ for creating a unique solution. Mr. Das says, “90% of the innovations these days are for only 10% of the people because these are profitable options. IDDS focuses on innovations that are for the underprivileged and for the needy”. Zimba was conceptualised at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) D-Labs in the year 2009 and a working prototype was ready by 2011. Later Zimba was successfully demonstrated at Stanford University, Cornell University and industrial summits in Dhaka, Ghana, and Sudan. To test theon-fieldutility, a pilotstudy was done in Sunderbans, West Bengal where 5 – 7 hand-pumps were fitted with Zimba. While the water quality increased the financial aspects were also encouraging. As of today Mr. Das is working with an entrepreneur who is also a hand-pump mechanic for installing Zimba and charging a sum to cover costs. He has also been approached by various national and international business houses for commercial production of Zimba.

Mr. Suprio Das did his Electrical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi, India and has worked on several projects that include generating electricity and water purification. He continues to serve as an advisor to Aqua Welfare Society for the construction of modified dug wells. His other notable innovations include Treadle Pump Electricity, and generating electricity for domestic lighting from Human Powered Vehicles. His work and service to the society had earned him a yearlong grant by MIT-India/IFMR (Institute of Financial Management and Research) Trust Seed Fund besides TePP (Technopreneur Promotion Programme) Fund by the Ministry of Science and Technology, India. His ability to address hard problems of everyday life has been instrumental in hisbeing invited to 4 consecutive International Development Design Summit (organized by MIT) at Boston, Ghana and Colorado. He was also invited as Designer-in-Residence at MIT to work with and mentor students of D-Lab on development design. Mr. Das finds his mentorship at MIT very enriching as there is co-learning with the students which leads to co-creations.

Mr Das always had the desire to do something for the people who are less fortunate than him and he draws inspiration from the problems faced by these to come-up with new innovations. Through the years, he has worked on a hand pump, a hand powered cell phone charger and, more recently, an automated chlorine doser (Zimba) that contains no moving partsand does notrequire electricity.He is determined to channelize his inquisitive mind for the larger section of society that manages on meagre resources. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

You don’t need eyes to dream big

Human body is wired to crave for sugar. Some studies have even suggested that consuming sugar can enhance uptake of crucial amino acid such as tryptophan from the food which is known to be indirectly associated with the feelings of well-being. But unfortunately, large number of people have to reduce consumption of sugar or give it up completely because of increase in the incidences of diabetes due to rapid urbanization and industrialization in India.
India is gradually emerging as world’s ‘Diabetes Capital’ with over 70 million diabetics reported in the year 2012 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Undoubtedly, Diabetes takes away some sweetness from the life but now a revolutionary innovation by Mr. C. K. Nandagopalan (Nandu) can certainly help restore it. Nandu, although visually challenged, is a prolific inventor and is credited for making ‘natural cane sugar diabetic friendly’ for the first time in the world. 
In the year 1987, Nandu established a research foundation called ‘Revolution’ with the aim to study classical Tamil sciences, especially aspects regarding Physiology, Pathology, Medicine and Food & Nutrition. He is also extensively researching on identifying new medicines from traditional knowledge system against auto-immune diseases. After exhaustive and systematic research, Nandu is now successful in making natural cane sugar diabetic friendly by blending it with a unique formulation of herbal extracts. 

According to Nandu, the genesis of diabetic friendly cane sugar is attributed to hassled parents of a young diabetic. Nandu explains, “I was approached by a grieving parent who had difficulty in controlling their child’s blood sugar levels as the child constantly yearned to eat sweets. Although, the parents could strictly monitor and control the child’s diet and glucose intake at home, while away, the child had easy access to candy, ice-cream, and other high sugar food items. Denying access to sweets was also straining the physical and emotional health of the child and the parents were perceived by him as his enemies. I had to do something for the family”. Nandu researched ancient medical system and applied his knowledge to develop a unique formulation of extracts from herbs and spices like Fenugreek, Turmeric, Black Pepper, Dried Ginger, Cinnamon, Gooseberry, Pomegranate, etc. to blend with natural cane sugar for making it diabetic friendly. As per Nandu’s hypothesis, the herbal additive allows glucose present in the blood stream to be effectively absorbed by the body at the cellular level.  

Although, there are other commercially available sugar substitutes like Aspartame, sucrolose, saccharine, etc. they have a bitter after-taste and cause  side-effects like enlarged liver and kidneys, reduced growth rate, decreased Red Blood Cell (RBC) count, etc. These sugar substitutes also have limited usage as they are heat sensitive. On the contrary, herbal treated cane sugar does not have bitter aftertaste and has no side effects. Moreover, this sugar can be used with any type of food and the heat sensitivity is at par with conventional cane sugar.

Nandu has branded his diabetic friendly cane sugar as ‘DiaBliss’ which is currently available in large metros. Nandu adds, “As herbal extract for making DiaBliss is derived from several herbs and spices using water (and no other chemical), the extract is colorless, odorless and tasteless and thereby restores the original taste of cane sugar & derivative products. By blending the herbal solution with sugar as well as carbohydrates and fruit pulp, we are able to provide a complete and integrated system for carbohydrate and fructose management for the first time in the world. Moreover during the preparation of herbal solution, potassium, calcium and antioxidants are extracted without altering the potency. We have also found that DiaBliss sugar addresses typical symptoms of diabetics which include low energy levels, lethargy, itchiness, craving for food and sweets by allowing enhanced absorption and better body metabolism”.
Manufacturing DiaBliss is a bit expensive process but by scaling-up the production, Nandu is successful in catering to big chunk of diabetics at an affordable price. He emphatically says, “Feedback for DiaBliss has been more than phenomenal; we have received hundreds of testimonies that boast about DiaBliss as a revolutionary sugar.”
Now Nandu and his team have developed a complete line of products using DiaBliss Sugar which include Sweets, Chocolate, Coffee & Tea Mixes, Multi Grain Porridges, Jams, Ketchup, Milk Shakes, Ice Cream Mixes, etc. Nandu’s DiaBliss, world’s first diabetic-friendly natural cane sugar, has global application and will enable diabetics to consume unlimited choice of foods without compromising on health.

As Nandu is a serial innovator, apart from DiaBliss, he has developed multiple other products such as ‘Heritage Sanjeevi’, ‘Nanneer’, etc. Heritage Sanjeevi is a novel topical medicine and claims to have highest wound healing capabilities. He claims that it can even heal radiation burns.
Another of Nandu’s innovations that is generating excitement is NANNEER which means “Pure water”. NANNEER is an herbal additive and Nandu claims that it has innumerable application in water management and agriculture. The concept of NANNEER is extremely cost efficient and any poor nation in this world can afford to produce NANNEER for a better environment and balance ecology for all the living species survival on land and water. Nandu also claims that NANNEER has proved its worth in handling polluted industrial effluents. NANNEER treated water promises to increase agricultural yield too.

Many ailing older patrons have often blessed Nandu though they say “Had you been a bit older than me I would have touched your feet”. This, as per Nandu is his greatest achievement.