This Farmer’s Son Invented A Water Filter Which Costs Rs 7000 And Consumes Zero Electricity

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Around five years ago, when engineering student Jitendra visited Rajasthan with his friend, he was appalled to see the severity of the water crisis. He saw people used to bathe sitting on a cot and placed a vessel underneath. The bathing water was reused for washing clothes, watering the plants or other household chores. Witnessing the stark scarcity of water, it dawned upon Jitendra that human beings are incapable of manufacturing water. It is a priceless resource only to be recycled and reused. He has always been inclined to come up with innovative designs, so the “Youngest Scientist” awardee has designed a cost-effective ‘ Shuddham ‘ water filter which can repurpose used water and can prove to be a solution for drought-hit villages in India with no electricity.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

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The maintenance cost is only 540 rupees per year

Estimates show that drinking and cooking comprise merely 20% of our water usage, while a bulk 80% is utilised for washing, cleaning, bathing, flushing etc. Jitendra’s device “ Shuddham ” is a first-of-its-kind water filter which can filter up to 500 litres of dirty water per day and make it suitable for all household purposes other than drinking or cooking. The machine costs as low as Rs 7000 with maintenance demanding only Rs 540 per year.

The Shuddham water filter

How the filter works

Not only this, ‘ Shuddham ’ is entirely mechanical and hence incurs no electrical expense. Gravity is the basic driving principle behind the Shuddham machine where the recycled water emerges from the lowermost segment after undergoing a series of filtration procedures. Granular sieving followed by active carbon ultrafiltration makes the water fit for reuse within minutes. In addition, the machine is fitted with an anti-choke mechanism that ensures no blockage of flow or mixing of dirt granules with the purified water. Shuddham can recycle up to ninety thousand litres of water in six months, after which the filtering granules need to be replaced for better effectiveness.

 

The invention is awaiting a patent

Hailing from a remote village in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, Jitendra Choudhary comes from a small-scale farmer family. Finances have always been a hurdle for the hardworking family of four, but Jitendra has proved his mettle by gaining prominence as an engineer.

Lab reports verifying the effectiveness of the Shuddham water filter

The 25-year-old dynamic talent has already filed more than one patent, including one for his unique water filter – Shuddham. Presently a research assistant at his college in Ujjain, Jitendra has installed the latest prototype of the machine in and around his college campus, as well as a neighbouring village. His team is planning to extend the initiative to Rajasthan and adjoining dry areas once their patent is approved and the machine gets a green signal to be commercially marketed.

Jitendra has been awarded the first prize for Shuddham at the Social Enterprise Idea Challenge at Azim Premji University

Message for everyone

Necessity is the mother of invention. Yet, in India today, many youngsters shy away from discovering newer solutions to persisting problems, mainly due to the lack of confidence and positive motivation. “I encourage everyone to come forward with their creative ideas so that together we can make our motherland a better place to live in,” urges a fervent Jitendra. He hopes that his story will inspire many young men and women from a low-income background to pursue their dreams.

Water scarcity is soaring to a dangerous level in India, with climate change aggravating the woes of the rural agricultural population. A model such as Jitendra’s Shuddham has every potential to provide a sustainable solution to the parched zones of India, also stricken by poverty.

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It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote

MyStory: “Two Months After I Joined IIT For My PhD I Was Diagnosed With TB”

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A person suffering from Tuberculosis (TB) not only battles the ‘Mycobacterium tuberculosis’ bacteria inside his lungs but also from the stigma attached to the disease. It weakens the patients in many different ways in their fight against the dreaded disease.  

My fight with TB was also filled with stigma. I joined IIT Kharagpur for my PhD in January 2015. Two months later, in March 2015, I was diagnosed with TB. I had to take sick leave from March 2015 that eventually lasted till June 2016. Initially, I did not respond well to medication. Further tests revealed that I had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB). This meant that the type of TB I had was resistant to two or more of the antitubercular medication I was taking.

About a year after the intensive phase of my treatment, I felt better and applied for readmission to IIT in July 2016. A prerequisite for rejoining was that my faculty members had to verify my application. With the formalities completed, I resumed my education, but I felt that something was amiss. 

My guide indicated that he did not want his work to suffer on account of my illness. I also heard from a senior colleague that my guide had said that I would spread the disease like an ‘infested animal’. I was disheartened at being subjected to this indignity by my supposed mentor.

However, my primary concern was defeating TB, so I didn’t dwell on it. Today, as I reflect on it, I realise the reasons behind the stigma were ignorance as well as fear.

Even among the educated, there are misconceptions about TB. People think all forms of TB are contagious. Others believe the patient is infectious for the entire length of the treatment. Some even believe that TB spreads through touch. This breeds the fear of contracting the illness.

As we know, people stigmatise and discriminate when they fear. I felt the impact of the stigma on two levels – in my professional life and my personal life.

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Professionally, the reluctance of my supervisor to mentor me and his discouragement affected me. I could not decide whether I should wait for the IIT authorities to tell me to leave or drop out. That decision was made for me by luck when I found out that my CSIR grant application was never processed. 

This meant that I would have to pay for my education. Given the expenditure on my treatment, this was unaffordable for me. This was the final nail in the coffin. I was forced to drop out and could not go back to completing my PhD.

What I faced was not technically illegal. I was discouraged from doing my PhD, but it was still a form of stigma. The external stigma I faced led to depression and isolation. 

Eventually, I realised I had to fight. The treatment for TB is difficult, requiring strict compliance and the management of side effects, and these demands resolve. I began motivating myself. I began following a proper diet and completing my treatment to ensure I could recover. I also turned to books as they transported me to other worlds and helped with my isolation. I also focused on reviving my old relationships.

Gradually, things improved. I could not proceed on my desired career path, but I am an educator now. I constantly realise that I have a role to play in shaping young minds. 

Workplace stigma has tangible consequences. It affects an individual’s career, financial opportunities and their right to work with dignity. So what can we do to address this stigma? 

First, we need to sensitise people by educating them about TB, and the impact stigma has on patients.

Another measure is group counselling involving the patient, the employer and the immediate supervisor. Informal versions of these sessions happen in the workplace in the context of illnesses like cancer. Why should it be any different for TB? 

The goal of this session would be to ensure that the patient is in a supportive environment. 

Finally, at a systemic level, there needs to be a workplace policy on stigma mitigation and a mechanism where the patients can anonymously register their concerns about stigma at the workplace.

A person’s career or job is often their calling and a provider of financial security. Workplace stigma creates a hostile work environment, affecting a person’s ability to do their job and their financial security. Financial insecurity and stigma make it harder for the patient to fight TB both in terms of means and motivation. Therefore, addressing stigma in the workplace is critical to patient well-being and recovery but also to their right to work with dignity.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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