HOW DOES a drought-prone state improve its agricultural productivity? A team of six students from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, proposes a solution: adopt an effective channel irrigation method. The team MI6 has considered the water-guzzling crop of sugarcane as a sample to prove the efficiency of their model.
The team, which has also proposed that the state government provide certified water-efficiency ratings to all sugar mills, is one of the 220 finalists in the Transform Maharashtra competition.
The competition ‘Transform Maharashtra: Platform for Youth to Create a Roadmap of Developed Maharashtra by 2025’ makes sure that policymaking and governance for students is not limited to dialogues and proposals that seldom see the light of the day. Winners of the competition will get to see their proposal implemented as a policy or a state-sponsored programme.
The winners will be selected based on the popularity of the idea depending on the number of votes the idea receives. Another set of winners will be chosen by a panel of judges. Students from across the state sent proposals under the 11 themes specified under the competition.
MI6’s model has made it to the top 20 under the ‘Jai Kisan: Drought-free Maharashtra’ theme. “Our model aims at solutions for drought, one of the biggest challenges for Maharashtra,” said Udyut Goyal, a fourth-year civil engineering student from IIT-B. “By using the effective channel irrigation method, the farmers can optimise the use of available water and eliminate wastage,” said Goyal, adding that the model is designed to improve the efficiency of farmers as well as reduce wastage of water in sugar mills.
The IIT-B team’s idea seemed popular as it was one of the most voted ideas under the theme. Team Parivartan, from the College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan, was leading the chart under the theme ‘Moulding the future: Reforming Rural Education’.
The model proposed by the team will help the government reduce the dropouts rate in schools and bridge the gap between education and employment. “We have proposed that eight adults be selected from each village for a centralised training. They will then teach students in schools,” said Sarah Husain, one of the team members.
These are free vocational courses for students between classes VIII and X. “The courses can be helpful for students to get jobs after they pass out. They will also be an incentive for students to attend classes,” said Husain, who added that the vocational courses will be specific to the geographical locations of the schools. A compulsory class in puberty is also a part of the model which can be scaled up to be linked with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
A team from Institute of Chemical Technology has proposed a model to improve the transport facilities in the state. Kalyani Chavali, a member of team Aryabhatt, said that the team studied various transportation models in the state and designed a strategy to make the state transport system more reliable and efficient.
The online voting, which began on March 21, closes on March 31. Results will be declared on April 5.