Many people ask me which was the best moment of my life or which day would I wish to relive. I just smile and say, “The time I worked with the people of Kelarkalabettu Nejar”. It was my privilege and honour to be their ‘sanrakshaka’.
Well, my ecstatic journey began on the 12th of March 2025, few days after I had finished my four year programme. It was the beginning of my road as a professional. I had chosen Kelarkalabettu Nejar village in Karnataka as my central focus. The village was going through a grind due to aging villagers unable to fight the problem of pests and flooding of fields. Farming their main occupation and reason for living was dying out. It was not returns in terms of money that was important to them as their kids had left to find better jobs abroad and were tending to their monetary needs. It was their heritage, their profession, their satisfaction which was at stake. I would be able to encourage the dwindling young population of farmers too if I could find a cost effective solution.
After my initial case study I was sure I made the right decision. I was all geared up to help them using all the knowledge I gained from Indian Institute of Science (IISC). I set out for Nejar village prior to which I did my research on it history, main occupation and geographical status. I even learnt the basic words and sentences in Kannada the local language as I knew it would be difficult to communicate with others if I didn’t do so. My superiors at IISC would also assist me if I needed any help. Next day I set out from my institute to Nejar. It took 7 hours and fifteen minutes to reach there. My superiors had asked me if I wanted to stay in a hotel, fifteen minutes from there. I politely rejected as I felt it would be better to stay in one of the mud houses to get a clear idea of what it felt.
The villagers were very warm hearted and kind towards me. I tried to communicate through my weak Kannada. Arrangements were made for me to stay at the Sarpanch’s house. It was very simple and yet extremely homely and comfortable. I immediately crashed on the cot after a wholesome meal of rasam, and Unday (Indian dumpling). Even though there were no air conditioners, it was surprisingly cool and airy. I woke up early next morning and conducted a survey.
Nanda, a young boy of sixteen helped me to communicate easily with the villagers as he knew a bit of English and was well versed in Kannada and Tulu another local language. After my survey I concluded that their main occupation was farming though they could not do it often now as many men and women were growing old while their children left them to go abroad for better job opportunities. Their crops were getting destroyed by rodents and other pests but the use of pesticides were affecting their health. Biotechnological advancement had not yet reached the village or to the public here yet. When I went back to the cottage, I jotted down some ideas on my notepad. After a stimulating snack of Goli Baje and hot tea, I came with the vague idea of a force field. It did seem very surreal to make this plan successful but my determination overruled my fear. I dozed off by the window pane after taking a warm water bath from a big copper vessel.
Next morning I set out to the fields and did a small inspection, checking the soil, how many months the crops took to grow and other details. I then began to connect all my information with the idea of the force field. The plant roots normally grew till the subsoil so through precise measurement techniques I decided the laser waves could go through the middle of the layer of the weathered rocks. The creation of a force field would even indirectly prevent excess rain water which caused floods from stagnating.
Over the next month I drew up the base idea for my force field. It was the first time I had actually conceived an idea on my own! I decided to take this idea to the villagers and see their view points. The villagers were doubtful of the idea. I assured them it would be useful and cost effective. Over the months I felt connected to the villagers and whole heartedly worked on my concept.
During the chilly months of October I completed my model. The force filed was only going to emit radiation at the seed level as radiation of 20-gy could kill disease causing micro-organisms at the base level increasing yield. Then, radiation would stop and a force field of sharp, bright light, sensitive to the retina of rodents, insects and birds would be emitted without causing visual pollution or harm to humans. Electricity would not be wasted as small turbines on the surface would harness the energy of flooded flowing water, generating power and emitting light rays. The force field would cover a height of 100ft and an approximate area of 4.5hectares. The huge pond which contained stagnated water would go down a chute at a high speed to every field thus creating hydroelectric power. There would be sensors to detect vibrations caused by pests alone which would activate the force field spreading out light rays which would repel the rodents, insects, birds and any other pests.
With the help of the villagers we began finding pathways from the stagnated pond of water to their respective fields. Now that the stagnated water could be used in a productive way, the breeding ground for mosquitoes would cease and malaria, dengue, chikungunya would considerably reduce. The setting up and execution would take a year and a half. I discussed the working model immediately with my superiors and guide at the institute. They were quite stoked with the idea and would be able to help in the arrangement of materials if needed. Over the next few months I worked on all minute details of my project, placement areas and set a day for pilot study on young Nanda’s field. The set up appeared perfect. Now I had to wait to see the outcome.
Every aspect seemed functional. Seeds irradiated at the seedling stage, were free from disease during germination, they were also free from pests during their growth and development stages, elderly farmers had reduced labour and pesticide free crops reduced their risk of cancer and lung disease. Now yield was what was left to see and Voila! It was a bumper crop. The pilot study was a resounding success.
On 22nd January 2028, the plan was executed in the entire village. I earned innumerable accolades but what touched me most were those tear filled eyes of the villagers who were thankful for an improved quality of life.
This laid the foundation of an ambition to serve others in future through the knowledge my institute made me capable of providing. I returned as a woman rich in love, wisdom, self-satisfaction and knowledge.
Name: SHAINA EVANKA D’CUNHA
School: INDIAN ENGLISH ACADEMY SCHOOL (IEAS), Kuwait