It is the dream of many students in India to get a chance to study at the world famous Oxford University. When Prerna Wadikar of Bangalore got this opportunity, her happiness knew no bounds. Because what can be better than doing MBA from this university and that too with scholarship? But Prerna has used this opportunity not only for herself but also to make a positive difference in the lives of people. She was just a student when she enrolled, but today she is recognized as an inventor.
Apart from doing innovation, Prerna has worked on many other activities. Due to which he has recently been awarded the ‘Vice-Chancellor’s Social Impact Award’ by Oxford University. In the year 2010, this honor was started by the then Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, Dr. Andrew Hamilton. The award is given every year to university students who show exceptional achievement and commitment to positive social change.
Speaking to The Better India, Prerna said, “I got this award for my innovation, working on ‘Jiva’ and starting ‘Jiva Global’. Oxford India Business Conclave To create, work for immigrant communities in Oxfordshire, and work in the field of social development on a personal and professional level over a long period of time.”
Prerna has created a one-of-a-kind portable energy device, which looks like a ‘power bank’ but is much more special than that and can be helpful to many people and organizations.
Inspiration to do something different from grandmother
Talking about his journey, he said, “Everyone in my house has always been conscious about education. My grandmother did her PhD after the birth of her fifth child. She used to teach in a school and also run a part time free school at her home. She understood the importance of education and hence taught free of cost to a child who could not go to school. She was my biggest inspiration because in the era when girls’ education was of no importance. Then he did something different and made his mark.”
Similarly, her mother is a yoga teacher and she always says with inspiration that science should be used for the betterment of the people. Since childhood, there was always an atmosphere in his house to do something new, learn and move forward. Subsequently, her thinking took off when she came in contact with Honey Bee Network and its founder, Professor Anil Gupta. After pursuing an engineering degree in computer science, Prerna joined IIM Bangalore. Here she was doing a course on public policy, not an MBA.
“During my studies, I got a chance to meet Professor Anil Gupta. I went on many research trips with him. During this, I learned a lot because the research trip involved meeting many inventors, experts and people with different thinking and experiences. During this I understood what are India’s problems and what we need to innovate,” he said.
What is ‘Jiva’
Talking about his innovation, he said, “Jiva is a portable energy device. which can be taken anywhere. It looks like a power bank. It only takes an hour to charge. It can also be charged from the solar panel when there is no electricity. It is fitted with both electric grade and solar panels. Hence this device is not dependent on electricity. Once charged, with this device you can run three devices like light, fan or any other electric device.
Jiva works for four to six hours on a single charge. She says that the aim of this innovation is to make energy accessible to as many people as possible and make it affordable. They have made this device keeping in mind the people who run the wheelbarrow. Prerna told that she has seen many people doing their jobs on handcart not only in India but also in many other developing countries. He has designed this device to make the work of such people easier.
Apart from the handcart, she says, her device can be used to run vaccine refrigerators in primary health centres, bulbs, fans in shops and to light people’s homes in rural areas.
He further added, “I contacted a Bengaluru based company, Livaah innovations Pvt Ltd and told them about my idea. I got full cooperation from the company’s director Bharat Krishna Rao. He has been working on green infrastructure for a long time. In addition, Dr. Satya, who worked on Lithium Ion technology, got along. With their help, I designed this device of mine and after that a pilot project was done in Varanasi. The project was a success and we got a positive response from many hawkers.”
Currently, she is working with Livaah Company for its commercial production. Rao says, “Our company is already making solar and battery powered products using IoT technology. So, it is a pleasure for us to work with Prerna’s idea.” To take her work forward, Prerna has also started her own green energy enterprise, Jiva Global. Through this, she will try to take her device to small entrepreneurs, public organizations and social organizations.
In conclusion, he said, “We Indians believe in the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ and hence have designed this device in such a way that it can be useful to people not only in India but also in other countries.”
Editing – G N Jha
Image credit: Prerna Wadikar
Also read: He used to be scolded for paying more attention to computer than studies, today he has become a serial innovator