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Why People in an Assam Village Are Using Umbrellas to Find Their Way in the Dark

Why People in an Assam Village Are Using Umbrellas to Find Their Way in the Dark

A young man from Assam, known for his helpful inventions, has developed the simple and effective device combining an umbrella with a solar plate and battery.

Imagine a situation where you are cycling back home amidst heavy rain and all you have to protect yourself is an umbrella.

Let’s make it a little trickier. The road is uneven and not very well-lit, so you also have to hold a torch, so that you can see where you’re heading.

Well some might find this experience bordering a little on the adventurous side, for countless people in remote parts of the country, particularly those in rural areas, this is a daily story.

Understanding the plight of his people, a young man from a village in Assam has developed a device that can guide people on their way back home.

Dhrubajyoti with his Umbrella Helper Box

That too, using an umbrella!

Dhrubajyoti Kakati, all of 21, has clubbed together an umbrella with a 4-inch solar plate that can fuel a battery of 6-volt capacity. This entire assembly, that is attached to the handle of the umbrella, weighs about 300 gm and can light up a torch with an LED bulb. Ingenious right?

It doesn’t end there. One could also use the same solar assembly to charge mobile phones too!

The Umbrella Helper Box, as Dhrubajyoti has named it, is an apt example of the phrase, “necessity is the mother of all inventions”. He came up with the idea in 2014, while cycling through the slippery roads to his school where he found many others faced the similar dilemma.

Close up of the solar-assembly on the umbrella.

“It indeed was troublesome, with the bad condition of the roads to add. The difficulty of cycling while holding an umbrella and a torch prompted me to figure out a solution”, he says.

Like many parts of rural India, the state of roads and power supply in the villages of Assam are not very promising. Post sunset, as Dhruba puts it, there are very rare occasions when there actually is a steady supply of power. “One major worry for the people in my village is to get back home safely before it is twilight”, he adds.

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The device, embedded in a box, is equipped with an LED torch that can be detached from the umbrella’s handle and also used as a flashlight. The best part is that the battery can be charged through a regular power socket too, provided there is a constant supply of electricity. But according to Dhruba, the solar panel in the assembly can charge the battery, even on days with low sunlight.

On being asked about commercialising the remarkable invention, Dhruba says he plans on doing it as and when he can get it patented. The invention can also help people living in other regions, facing similar crises.

The umbrella kit isn’t the only apparatus that Dhruba has devised. In fact, it is one of his many innovations.

His other inventions include a multi-purpose crutch for the physically challenged, concrete mixer, brick-making machine, pedal operated grinder and low-cost seed driller.

Dhruba with other inventions: Pedal operated grinder and Concrete Mixer

The crutch for the physically challenged is equipped with a seat and a small table that is lightweight and easy to use. “I had thought of this with the idea that the users of this crutch can utilise the seat when they feel,” he says.

The pedal-operated grinder is easy to operate and requires no electricity to run. The seed driller, as the name suggest, helps in drilling seeds in a field. Perfectly suited for small-scale farmers, the machine helps with furrow making, seed drilling and furrow covering.

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Currently studying agriculture at Biswanath College of Agriculture, Sonitpur, Dhruba is also the founder of Haritkona, a bimonthly popular science newspaper and KrixomNET, an agricultural start-up.Wanting to work towards bridging the gap between the farmers and technology, KrixomNET is a new venture by Dhruba, kickstarted this year.

Dhruba adds that he has been working on certain ideas but did not delve any further, keeping the element of surprise intact.

To know get in touch with Dhrubajyoti Kakati, click here.

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