NAGERCOIL: At 23, Masha Nazeem has several feathers in her cap. But the one she is likely to receive from Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on the Independence Day on Monday is something special. For, this is going to be her first-ever award from the Tamil Nadu government.
“Though I have bagged various national and international awards, this is the first time I am going to receive recognition from my home State, and that too from the Chief Minister herself,” says an elated Masha, the young social inventor from Eraviputhoorkadai in Kanniyakumari district. Masha has been selected for the prestigious CM’s State youth award and is busy rehearsing for the award ceremony in Chennai.
As a nine-year-old, she took to what she proudly says social invention. “My first innovation was a burglary alarm system which I developed in my fourth grade,” recalls Masha, who comes from a humble background. Her father N Kaja Nazeemudeen is an assistant treasury officer and her mother M Sumaya Begam a homemaker. Since then there was no looking back for her. Her parents allowed her to pursue her passion.
She has a dozen inventions to her credit. The hi-tech train toilet (hygienic drainage disposal system in trains) she designed during her eighth grade in 2005 not only received appreciation from Indian Railways but also won her two national and an international award. Her role model and the then president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam invited her to Rashtrapathi Bhavan and praised her.
A recipient of the President award, she is using her talent to inculcate the scientific spirit and creativity in school students through ‘Masha Innovation Centre’ functioning out of her residence in Nagercoil. Under her guidance, six students have received national-level INSPIRE and IGNITE awards.
Masha’s social pursuit is far from over. She plans to launch a ‘Makerspace’, a concept popular in western countries, in her native district with help from donors at an estimated cost of `10 lakh. “Makerspace is a community centre with tools. Students having passion for science and innovation but do not have accessibility to equipment can make use of it free of cost,” she spells out her future project.