There’s a difference between developing innovative technology and using existing technology innovatively, claims a tech fan.
BC: Where were you last night?
AD: Out partying with my cousin Arun.
BC: You seem to have started the New Year celebrations rather early this year.
AD: Well, the binges began a long time ago. We weren't sure if the world was coming to an end and hence decided not to take chances.
BC: So who's going to take charge of technology's safe passage into 2013 if you're going to be partying endlessly?
AD: Oh, don't worry about it. Now that your generation has crossed over and has begun using mobiles, handicams and iPods, it is an indication that technology's safe and sound.
BC: I don't believe you said that!
AD: Of course, a few are yet to come to terms with how things work. I have an old aunt who chides her maid for giving her missed calls because she thinks even missed calls to her mobile are charged.
BC: I’m speechless.
AD: Millions of Indians are, and yet manage to keep communication going without saying a word.
BC: Sign language? SMS?
AD: No, through missed calls. You can call it a silent revolution, but India is probably the only country where a missed call could have so many interpretations — from ‘reached safe’ to ‘call back’ or ‘buy something on your way back’.
BC: Free but effective, huh?
AD: When it comes to using existing technology innovatively, we seem to have a knack of finding newer ways of doing things.
BC: My neighbours used missed calls to communicate specific messages — one ring to keep the tea ready, two rings to open the door and so on.
AD: I recall my college friends who had hired an apartment and used to program their TV to act as an alarm clock.
BC: How did they do that?
AD: By setting the timer on for a specific time in the morning. The television would switch on by itself and blast at full volume, waking up everyone in the house.
BC: It reminds me of the washing machines in Punjab and Chandigarh that are used to make lassi!
AD: It’s hard to say which deserves more plaudits, the lassi or the machine.
BC: What about the knife sharpener that uses a cycle wheel? Who would have thought pedalling a cycle would result in sharpening a knife?
AD: Looks like India's progress is truly being made on wheels.
BC: Talking of wheels, rural India has created its own transport based on the world's oldest set of wheels.
AD: What’s so novel about a bullock cart?
BC: Add an engine from a water pump, a plank of wood and a set of tyres to it — and you have a multi utility vehicle for a large family. It's called a Maruta, derived from the name Maruti.
AD: One thing seems to be common to all these innovations — they are earthy and come from necessity.
BC: That's also proof that you don't need a lab, a Ph. D. degree and millions of dollars of funding to innovate. All you need is a different perspective and a drive to reach your goal.
AD: Ah, the sermon begins.
BC: No, that’s the reason why India never feared the end of the world.
BC: Absolutely! We were always confident that even if the earth came to a standstill, we'd find a way to crank-start the planet and keep it moving.