News - Messiahs of the masses
by Life Positive
Varaprasad Reddy of
Shantha Biotech created
India’s first recombinant
hepatitis B vaccine, which
the company was able to
supply to Unicef in 2002 at a cost of
just 40 cents per dose. At the time,
imported vaccines cost 18 dollars per
dose. Today, 50 per cent of the hepatitis
B immunisation programmes around the
world use the Shantha vaccine.
Helping the common man stand on his feet Another example is the Jaipur foot, an inexpensive prosthetic limb. The Jaipur foot is financially and mechanically feasible for a labourer who makes Rs 100 a day, the going wage in many parts of India. Artificial feet from the United States can cost thousands of dollars, but the Jaipur foot, designed by Ram Chandra Sharma, costs just Rs 1,300.
There are about 200 million people in India who cannot read. Faqir Chand Kohli, the former chairman of the Indian software company TCS, created a computer-based literacy programme that teaches people to recognise words rather than letters. For one hundred rupees someone can learn to read in just six to eight weeks.
Yet another of these messiahs is 47-year-old ex-veterinarian Pradip Kumar Sarmah of the Noida-based Centre for Rural Development. Sarmah has innovated Deep Bahan – a lightweight cycle rickshaw priced at around Rs 10,500. The rickshaw comes giftwrapped with a loan from Sarmah's Rickshaw Bank as well as vehicle insurance, licences, uniforms and even Hawaii chappals for the pullers. Sarmah services the rickshaw pullers with a one-window clearance as it were. A top-to-toe deal. The Bahan is 20 per cent lighter than the traditional 100 kg rickshaw, and can be owned within 18 months through a nominal repayment of just Rs 25 per day. Pradip got inspired on chatting with a rickshaw puller who had been paying a rent of Rs 25 for his vehicle for 16 years, and still did not own it.
What these inventors prove is that when you wed passion with compassion, wondrous works emerge.
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