Have you ever had people dismiss your ideas or question your ability just because of your age? Or wondered if what you dream to achieve may not be possible because you have never seen anyone in your age group make such a change? These are just a few thoughts that inspired Mumbai-based author and entrepreneur Rupangi Sharma to work on her book Young Indian Innovators, Entrepreneur, and Change-makers. This nonfiction book for children—it was published in April this year—comprises inspiring accounts of 65 Indian youngsters who have, through their creative ideas, attempted to make a social impact.
Age is just a number
Much of the idea behind this book stems from Sharma’s childhood, and with the support of those at home. She mentions how she owes her entrepreneurial spark to her maternal grandmother, a social thinker who established an old-age home in Rohini. “She [maternal grandmother] was not just a successful entrepreneur; she would also talk to me about how she didn’t have any business knowledge when she started. When you grow up seeing this bold and accomplished woman, you are bound to get inspired,” shares the 33-year-old author. This, along with the fact that Sharma could barely find any young Indian change-makers documented online, influenced her to write the book. “You need to see someone like you doing something. There has always been a slight hesitation in taking someone young seriously. I wanted to change that and show other youngsters that they too can become the change they want to see in the world,” says Sharma.
Creating an impact
Illustrated by Bengaluru-based illustrator Adrija Ghosh, the book follows the inspiration and challenges these children had faced along the way. Aged from seven to 21, each youngster is passionate and was selected for their out-of-the-box thought processes—while a duo has created a portable mobile charger that can charge your phone using kinetic energy produced by walking, another child has made special eyeglasses that can help the blind read. In fact, these innovations range from projects that look at conscious environmental practices or uplift economically-stressed communities to a few that create awareness about mental health and menstrual hygiene, etc. “It is not that these people weren’t documented before. Most have been featured in news articles. However, what saddened me was how the news looked at their stories only from the age perspective and not the good that they were doing in society. I wanted to shift the focus from their age to their work,” explains Sharma.
The first offline event to promote the book was organised at Quill And Canvas, a book store in Gurugram, on Friday where a few youngsters featured in the book presented their stories. Speaking about a previous session, Sharma adds, “We had invited kids to come have a discussion around the issues these stories highlight, and many did not believe the stories were about real-life people. There has always been a bit of bewilderment. We need to change it.”
Elaborating the importance of highlighting such stories in India, Sharma concludes, “The power of these ideas have the ability to create change. However, most youngsters barely get any encouragement in our country. Where do you find inspiration if the stories are not available? My aim was to give these small stories as much importance as possible to create a change in perception.”
Paving the way forward
Aayushi Jain (17), RK PURAM
“My first successful project was ‘ALPHA: All Purpose Homes for All’. It was a 3-D-printed project, which was visioned to provide night shelters to underprivileged people and could be transformed into shops in the day. Along with my schoolmates, I created ‘Super Eyes’, which aims to assist blind students read printed and virtual texts. Last year I created ‘Tech Bus’ which aimed to make the school transportation system easy, quick, and safe.“
Anand Gangadharan (22), Gurugram and Mohak Bhalla (23), Subhash Nagar
“Our invention, ‘Walki-Mobi Charger’, is a device that can be attached to the sole of a shoe. As a person walks, the kinetic energy captured produces electricity and charges a mobile phone. It promotes a healthy lifestyle, as people have to take a stroll to charge their phones. It also helps people reduce their carbon footprint by simply charging their phones while walking and not using the main power supply.”
Anugreh Sehtya (21), Shalimar Bagh
“‘Hybrid Idea’ was started in 2018 as India’s first assistive technology solution design company. Our main focus was to build solutions for persons with disabilities, which can be used in their day-to-day life. Later on, we pivoted ‘Hybrid Idea’ into a global social technology firm. Now, we help social enterprises, non-profits, and other organisations increase their social impact through technology. Currently, I am also running ‘Serenico Labs’ that creates immersive experiences and games.”
Nitya (14) and Kartikeya Singh (16), Safdarjung
“‘Rebel Girls’ is a youth-led platform that allows students to have interactions with women who stood against all odds and emerged victorious in the fields they have pursued. This is in the form of sessions, one-on-one interviews, and through our blog. The initiative offers inspiration to all those who want to achieve something in their life but cannot due to circumstances.“
Parikul Bhardwaj (16), Dwarka
“My parents were into high-altitude medical services and disaster management. I would find their training very adventurous and fun. Their practice helped me develop an interest in the field. I started my journey at the age of nine. Before volunteering, I had the privilege to be trained by ITBP, BSF, NDRF, Indian Airforce, NIM, and HAWS. Once I completed my training course, I went on to provide medical services to the pilgrims of Kedarnath Yatra and Amarnath Yatra in 2017, 2018, and 2019.”