A retired Brigadier’s perspective of constant Innovation by soldiers is now impacting and changing livelihoods of lakhs of villagers in the undivided Andhra Pradesh.
It's never Easy to hang your boots !!
On 31 October 2005 Brigadier P Ganesham, VSM (Retd) wore his Army uniform for the last time after decades and hung his boots at the end of the day. Tons of memories continued to flash about his long innings which he attributes as First Life. He was deservingly rewarded by the President of India with “Vishist Seva Medal (VSM)” on the occasion of Republic Day 2005 for his contribution.
Brigadier admits with pride and reiterates that once he tasted the splendid, exciting, meaningful and professional Army life of dedication, challenges, discipline, learning, teaching, adjusting, transfers, meeting people from across the country, feeling of equality and oneness; He would join the Indian Army in his next 100 lives if he had a choice.
Not Tired only Retired. Brigadier still full of enthusiasm did assume the appointment of Director with Bharat Dynamics Ltd, Hyderabad and eventually had to face the real retirement at 60 when he was looking for something more satisfying and meaningful.
All that His inner voice could tell him was that he wished to give Samay, Arth, Shram (Time, Money and Effort) to do something ethical and good for the society at large and earn no more.
Having hung his boots and moving to Hyderabad with lock, stock, and barrel; spent days contemplating and introspecting on what he could do to benefit others. Working for money, no longer interested him. His experience Post Kargil flashed and he recollected that the power of innovation by a Soldier which ensured man-machine compatibility despite the large gap in technological levels. It was such a moment of pride for him and the Team when “WINDY”- a multi-weapon platform developed by the Soldier was show-cased on Republic Day 2014 and was the first Patent for the Indian Army. This is the MOMENT he said, “Why not identify the innovations in and around the villages, encourage, help them show-case, support in making a livelihood and enable them to earn fame and recognition”. This is where the idea cropped up from...
At 60 years, he felt he was ZERO as he knew nothing about the lives of the villagers nor their needs and neither any skill like farming, weaving, pottery or animal husbandry. It was time to start learning from scratch by getting into their shoes. Learning through conversations commenced…
The Mission Possible…
Brigadier P Ganesham started scouting for creativity in the informal system - villages, remote areas, urban slums, elders, children and women and disseminate horizontally. His wife Aruna a pillar of strength was more than confident that they could make their mission possible. She started helping him and their home soon became a public place with people walking in at their Will anytime. She took care of them, attending to calls, compiling information for their magazine and there is no looking back for her who smilingly continues to nurture and provide all physical and emotional support.
Glimpses into their lives.
“Palle Srujana” was christened on November 20, 2005, just 20 days after retirement; the best thing that could have ever happened in Brigadier’s life and no regrets whatsoever. His second life had commenced.
Walking through the gallis of the villages was tough; where the locals are habitual to hand-shake only with people from the political, government or religious backgrounds which he was none of these. Brigadier acclaims “I unlearned and shed my baggage and tried to melt my ego to convert into a simple, single, and childlike human. It was not easy at all”. Earning their trust was important and he tried to make them feel comfortable and genuinely respected through his “ Manasa, Vacha, Karmana ”( Thought, Words and Deeds). Over a period of time, they evolved and understood the fact that both sides needed to acknowledge rather than invalidate or intimated by the other. He soon won over their trust and hearts as they knew Brigadier’s genuine and honest intentions.
Innovation, Passion and Compassion.
These three golden words rarely heard of in the formal system were only encountered by Brigadier in his second life. The true meaningful life where compassion for others, the nature and animals, passion in the smallest job they did and constantly thinking of innovating to better something around them. Brigadier first met innovator G Chandrashekhar from Kalahasthi, an amazing human being exuberating with all of these qualities. Soon he encountered five more innovators from Districts Adilabad to Chittoor and Sangareddy to Srikakulam in the undivided Andhra Pradesh. Each one of them lived by these three golden words.
Unfolding of the “Magazine”
Scouting the innovations and documenting them commenced slowly but firmly. The captured knowledge needed to be disseminated to the Telugu people. With the help of Honeybee network, a magazine “Palle Srujana” – a bi-monthly in Telugu was proposed to be launched.
Fortunately, a chance meeting with Palle Raghava Reddy a young and passionate journalist who ran a printing press did the trick. Brigadier along with his wife Aruna and the gango journalist got into action immediately and published the first magazine launched by late Dr. Pushp Bhargav and Prof Anil K Gupta during May 2006. The Magazine runs only on subscriptions with no advertisements or sponsors and only printing cost is paid for; the rest of the work is carried out by the volunteers. This Magazine circulation is working like magic.
The scouting went on with like-minded senior citizens joining Palle Srujana. PC Sharma, Durga Prasad, Srikar, Sesi Mohan brought a lot of strength. Sesi Mohan took over as the Editor of the Magazine.
The joy and the excitement knew no bounds when the first Innovator of Palle Srujanian Chinthakindi Mallesham was awarded in 2007 by the President of India who went on to bag many more awards in subsequent years. This motivated the team and search for more was intensified through volunteers from all walks of life.
Chinthakindi Mallesham Click Here To Read About Chinthakindi Mallesham
Modus Operandi of Palle Srujuna
Firstly, volunteers are briefed about the organization and they have the freedom to choose how they wish to contribute. Palle Srujana creates a conducive and a friendly environment so much so that the volunteers enjoy giving and serving and inturn are happy to be self-accountable sans T&C.
The 2000 odd volunteers of all ages spread across Telugu states, Scout, Identify innovators and document and after due validation, the organization supports in making prototypes and further making them saleable items and even patenting. These innovations are reported to the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) for awards and patent and fund support. Marketing is provided through display of innovations across the two states. If the innovators are not keen on getting into commercialization, Palle Srujana helps them to find manufacturers ensuring benefits through royalties. Whatever it takes to support the Innovators the organization is more than willing to extend.
The hard work, dedication, and passion is reaping results after a long ordeal of 14 years has benefited over 5 lakh Telugu people as grassroots innovations reached them. With more than 200 innovators scouted, a dozen Rashtrapati awardees, a couple of Padmashris, 24 patents and over 50 products ready for sale, the total turnover in the last financial year was Rs 5 Crores with increasing Pan India sales. Brigadier is hopeful of spreading the good work to many other states.
Ideas come from?
Brigadier explains that the suffering, pain and hardships make them create and innovate. Description of pain defines the problem. Innovator Mallesham saw his mother suffer while doing manual Asu for Ikkat saris and made an Asu Machine to bring relief and joy to her. Mr.Panduranga Rao who felt frustrated pushing his punctured bike discovered a liquid for punctures. Tubes filled with small quantity of this liquid do not develop punctures for three years. Shanmukha Rao innovated a simple Shade to provide comfort and happiness to those farm labour who work in the hot Sun across the country working in open wet or dry fields and many more….To know more or to suggest refer www.pallesrujana.org or firstname.lastname@example.org or 9866001678
Brigadier concludes :
“What I learnt in my second life is much more than I learnt in my first life”. He is so happy that he made this decision which has brought so much joy, happiness, contentment not only to him but to the excellent volunteers, innovators, and so many villagers who otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Palle Srujana is a great example of collaboration in the society - formal and informal, without which all this could have not been attained.
Its all about Volunteerism.
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