The lack of cows to till the land got 16-year-old S A Sivasoorya thinking in Tamil Nadu’s Kovilpatti district.
“Nobody was rearing cows in their homes anymore which meant that farmers in my village could not till the land easily,” he told The Indian Express. “For a small farmer in my village, it takes seven hours to till less than an acre of land,” he said. And renting a cow for it meant coughing up Rs 3,000-3,500. “It is just not feasible anymore,” he said.
So, Class XI student Sivasoorya, from Velammal Matriculation School in Chennai where he resides, sat down to work on a prototype — it resembled a trolley with gate wheels, is solar powered and operated remotely. He called it a Solar Wetland Leveller and Trimmer.
Months later, when he was watching TV on a Sunday that happened to be former President Abdul Kalam’s 86th birth anniversary, he got a phone call. He was one among 55 students across 16 states who were awarded the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE 2017 Award for ideas and innovations, Sivasoorya was told. The awards honour creativity in school children, said Vipin Kumar, the director and chief innovation officer of the Gandhinagar-based National Innovation Foundation.
The awards are organised by the foundation in association with the CBSE. The awards will be given away by former President Pranab Mukherjee in December and an exhibition showcasing the winning ideas will be held at the venue. Some of the ideas are consistent with the immediate realities of student life. For instance, a watch with a button for pungent spray on bullies, or a school bag with foldable wheeled legs to distribute the weight.