Technology and how it can be used for social change has always fascinated Anant Vats. It’s this passion that he uses in his work with bamboo artisans in the Dang region of Gujarat under the Fellowship programme.
Thirty-three-year-old Anant has introduced innovative mechanical tools to help bamboo artisans improve the quality of their products and reduce the drudgery associated with working with bamboo. In close collaboration with BAIF Development Research Foundation, Pune, Anant has developed a number of low cost prototypes, including a bamboo axe and a splitter. The bamboo axe helps in cutting bamboo into four or eight uniform splits in one go. This axe prototype is not only cheaper compared to the traditional axe, but also requires less effort. The bamboo splitter developed by Anant helps mechanize the process of splitting bamboo. He has also introduced a heat etcher, a tool that helps bamboo artisans make decorative patterns on their products, and a box sander, an electrical powered tool that helps reduce the time required to finish bamboo products, typically a painful and time-consuming process.
Nearly 40 artisans in two pilot villages – Ambapara and Dagarpada are producing more than double the quantity of bamboo mugs and have witnessed a 40 per cent increase in income through the sales of these products at a local tourist spot in Gheeradoot. Anant is now developing a financial proposal to secure funding for bamboo artisans to enable more of them to purchase these prototype tools.
Pull out quote: “The SBI Fellowship has been a very gratifying experience which has provided a new direction to my life and understanding of how technology can be used for livelihoods and social change.”
With a degree in mechanical engineering and Masters from the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, Anant spent the last five years as an entrepreneur before taking the plunge and moving to Gujarat as an SBI Fellow.