While serving in the Army, Brigadier P Ganesham would observe how soldiers survived the harshest landscapes by creating solutions to every problem.
His quest to find such everyday innovators in rural India began post retirement, in November 2005, through his organisation ‘Palle Srujana’.
When he attended an event by the National Innovation Foundation-India (NIF-India), he was shocked to see no innovators from his state, Andhra Pradesh.
He then began his journey travelling across Andhra and Telangana to unearth unknown innovators, reach out to them, and help them scale up.
Over the past 18 years, Ganesham has identified and helped over 200 rural innovators, including Padma Shri awardee Chintakindi Mallesham.
Mallesham created the Laxmi ASU machine to reduce the time and labour required to weave Pochampalli silk sarees.
Ganesham helps such innovators get patents, win awards, and make their products commercially viable.
From one person spreading the word, the initiative has grown into something bigger called ‘Shodha Yatra’. As part of this movement, volunteers now visit villages every few months, sharing stories of innovators and asking locals if they have similar ideas.
Out of the 200 innovations that Ganesham has identified so far, 26 are ready for sale, 24 have patents, 13 have bagged the Rashtrapati award, and two have received the Padma Shri award.
A few of the innovations include an iron box fueled by gas, a metallic stepper to aid in climbing coconut trees, and a mobile charging unit powered by a solar panel.
The organisation ‘Palle Srujana’ runs on Ganesham’s pension and donations. So far, they’ve gathered more than Rs 4 crore to support innovators, focusing on creating useful tools for farming and other industries.
“I am just a facilitator. They are the real heroes whose innovations have not only inspired me but are truly changing life as we speak. I am just glad to have been the lucky one to see the history of Indian technology and innovation in the making!” he says.