A Water-powered Clock, A Foldable Charkha, Farm Equipment – This 82-Year Old Cannot Stop Innovating!

Most of us would like to retire, kick back and relax in our early eighties. However, there are people like Annasaheb Bhavu Udgavi who still possess a child-like curiosity and the youthfulness of ideas to produce grassroots innovations at the age of 82, that have earned him the Lifetime Achievement Award from National Innovation Foundation-India.

82 year old Annasaheb Bhavu Udgavi

82 year old Annasaheb Bhavu Udgavi

The Journey

His journey as an ideator and innovator started when he was in 20s and has just kept going since. The contribution made by him is immense and in fields as diverse as agriculture and renewable energy. Some of his Innovation Milestones are:

Early 60s :

In 1960, he developed a clock which ran on drops of water. The second’s hand of the clock moved forward when a drop of water fell on it from a dispenser, which had been timed properly. In 1962, he made a horizontal charkha that was foldable and could fit into a suitcase. He displayed this at Sabarmati Ashram, which improvised on his design, and increased the number of ‘belanis’ from three to eight in the conventional one, in order to increase the output.

Mid 70s :

In the mid 1970’s, to save his betel vine orchard from acute water scarcity, Annasaheb fitted PVC pipes used in electrical fittings with perforations made on them using nails. By irrigating each day for one hour, he ran the crops for seven years. This was Annasaheb’s very own drip irrigation, when the term ‘drip irrigation’ was unheard of in this part of the World.

The 80s :

To protect his sugarcane crop from aphids and white flies, he created the rotor sprinkler system called ChandraPrabha that could cover a radius of 140 feet. Besides whisking the pests away, the ChandraPrabha rain gun can irrigate 1 acre in 1.5 hours.


The Raingun being demonstrated at an exhibition

The innovative Raingun irrigates more than twice as much area using the same amount of water. Along with irrigation, the sprinkler can be used for application of fertilizers and plant protection chemicals simply by mixing them in the water tank. This can save huge labour costs. More importantly, since the Raingun has a three-inch pipe and a wide nozzle, even liquid composts such as biogas slurry can be applied to the crop.

The 90s & Beyond :

In the early 1990s, Annasaheb made a foot-operated milking machine using a suction pump.

farm machinery

Multi-purpose farm machinery

Also, fed up from paucity of labour and exorbitant diesel costs to run the tractor for a single operation while cultivation sugarcane, Annasaheb developed an equipment that could perform three simultaneous operations for producing better quality mulch. The equipment can be attached to a 30-40 hp tractor and can simultaneously perform farm operations like bund forming, seed sowing, manure application and harvesting. He has been using the equipment for many years, and also holds a patent for it.

Age hasn’t slowed him down a bit, but made him more inquisitive and daring. India can surely do with more Annasahebs!!

Thanks to NIF-India for sharing Annasaheb’s achievements with us. You could write to [email protected] for more details.

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About the Author: Rahul Anand is interested in social innovation, enterprise and social impact. He is co-founder of Bloodaid

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