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Swachh-Grih to Swachhaagrah

Dr Raghunath Mashelkar is the third Indian to have been elected as Fellow of Royal Society (FRS), London in the 20th century; only scientist to have won the JRD Tata Corporate Leadership Award and the Star of Asia Award (2005) at the hands of George Bush Sr, the former president of USA; Former DG, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research and a guest at the banquet at Rashtripati Bhawan during Obama’s recent visit to India.

The entire country is getting galvanized, but the real challenge lies in converting people’s mindset from Swachhagrih to Swachhagrah,” comments Padma Vibhushan Dr. Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, Eminent Scientist, during an interaction with Suprita Anupam.

I am chairing a 19-member expert committee that has been asked to examine best technologies on sanitation and water so that they can be scaled up to meet the transformational requirement. Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan is about transformation… an inclusive transformation. Having said that, to achieve the ambitious targets set up by the PM, we must design those technological and social innovations that are scalable, sustainable, affordable, acceptable and rapidly deployable.

Scalability – Requirements are bigger than ever before. A technology or innovation would be successful in India only if it could be deployable on a larger scale.

Sustainable – The time is changing and hence, we need technologies that meet not only today’s requirements but fits in tomorrow’s frame too. Technologies that meet the required set of standards.

Affordable – The technologies must be affordable to the Indians’ pocket.

Rapidly Deployable – To meet the fast growing challenge, the solution must be faster. A solution that could be rapidly deployable.

Acceptable – One cannot force people to adopt the suggested technology. But, the technology itself should be such that it could be easily acceptable.

Many technologies and solutions have come for considerations. These have already been suggested to the State governments to be adopted on a large scale. India is a country of diversity. We will need different solutions for different states.

We must turn the Abhiyaan into an Andolan and then Jan Andolan, people’s movement. Only then we will succeed. So far, people have the habit of keeping only their own home clean (Swachh-Grah), we need to transform this into an insistence on keeping the surrounding areas also clean i.e.

[divider]”We must understand that innovation is about thinking differently, doing things differently for making a difference. The first part you have done, you have demonstrated what you can do. But the story is not complete. Has it made a difference? And that difference, we have to help them make together.[divider]

Swachhagrah, just as we did in Satya grah. Together we can do it! I am very optimistic about this.


CSIR has a very important role to play and it has developed a number of water purification technologies as CSMCRI lab like reverse osmosis membranes. Though membranes are usually costly, the ones developed at CSIR are affordable, sustainable and have been very useful during calamities.

Shaping Technology & Innovation

From being at 64 in 2012 and 66 in 2013 in the Global Innovation Index, India ranked at 76 in 2014. This is because, we are infamous for jugaad technology, which stands for getting less from less for lesser people, getting it somehow reducing the cost, and with no consideration for safety. My idea of technology and innovation is based on something that is excellent, and affordable at the same time.

GRA: Working towards Inclusive Technology

Global Research Alliance is an alliance of nine great chains of institutions from Africal, Asia, Europe and USA comprising 60,000 scientists. At Global Research Alliance, the major focus is on inclusive development, which includes a number of things that were excluded for a variety of reasons such as poverty and disability.Inclusive innovation is any innovation that leads to affordable access of quality goods and services creating livelihood opportunities for the excluded population, primarily at the base of the pyramid, and on a long term sustainable basis with a significant outreach. Our innovation and technology is for them.

The GRA implements these solutions through partnership-based projects. For example, Vietnam inclusive innovation project, launched six months ago has been designed and conceptualised by GRA. A $55million project that will work towards the development of inclusive technologies. This will provide support: developing technological solutions to address a few National Development Challenges (NDCs) that are specific to Vietnam; and developing, acquiring, adapting and upgrading inclusive technologies by Research and Development (R&D) institutions, enterprises and grassroots innovators. Another component is scaling up and commercialization of inclusive technologies.

[divider]At the school where I delivered a speech, I was amazed by the quality of mind our young children and students have. While starting my speech, I appealed to all these young minds to come up with some innovation pertaining to Swachch Bharat Mission and share with me. I was stunned to see that as soon as I ended my speech, students were in a queue to show me their ideas. This makes me optimistic. This makes me believe that India is changing.[divider]

Similarly, we are now exploring other possible projects. Recently, I was invited by Asian Development Bank to collaborate on some upcoming projects. The development page is set, yet to be written.






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