Mir’s lantern warns of intruders, entertains | ‘Innovation outcome of restive situation, suffering’

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Srinagar, Apr 09: His genius has its origin in Kashmir’s volatile era of crackdowns and nocturnal raids. Nothing but persistence to find a way out of the persistent suffering turned Ghulam Muhammad Mir, a small time farmer who has never been to school, into an innovator of a class.
His innovation is a Singing Lantern that forewarns about intruders approaching your house, entertains, stores memory and keeps one connected with the outside world.
Mir’s success has inspired National Innovation Foundation (NIF), New Delhi, to provide financial support to him for developing 20 more prototypes. And if he meets the deadline, a contract for 200 more gadgets is in the offing.
But behind Mir’s rise to fame lies a tale of struggle and sufferings. A resident of South Kashmir’s Sagam village, Mir has been witness to Kashmir’s dark era of crackdowns and raids during nights by security forces. “Frequent crackdowns were a routine in our village during turmoil,” Mir says. “My house is located on roadside and it was always vulnerable to such nocturnal raids.”
Mir says a delay of even seconds to respond to midnight knocks on door by forces was to invite trouble. “They would gatecrash into the house and I would often have to face their wrath.” Mir recollects about that “dark” era.
Adding to his woes was non-availability of a permanent lighting gadget at his house when not-to-use a lighting torch during dark hours in Kashmir was an unwritten rule.
Awkward situation that Mir would find himself caught in during the challenging time haunted him for months. But he did not give up.
Though having no scientific/technical background, Mir started working on an idea to develop a “unique” gadget using a traditional kerosene lamp.
After days of struggle Mir succeeded in replacing kerosene oil with chargeable battery as fuel for lighting the lantern. Wick gave way to a bulb.
But the job was half done. The “feat” was achieved when Mir successfully fixed an audio sound sensor along with a bell into the lamp. On sensing any movement within a radius of 50 feet, the sensor fitted on bell would create an alarm.
“Now, the fear of crackdowns and night hour raids was no longer there. The lantern would alert me on hearing any sound,” said Mir. “The reason behind the innovation has been the volatile situation in Kashmir and the suffering we faced.”
Mir fumbles to explain how he developed the innovation. “I kept trying on with different kinds of gadgets till I laid my hands on perfect machinery,” says Mir who has become a household name in south Kashmir village. “The good thing was that forces would be amused seeing the lantern. I was no longer at their receiving end.”
This was not end to Mir’s achievement. Next he fixed an FM circuit inside the lantern along with speakers to listen to on-the-air music and news. It followed with facility for charging mobile phone by installing a USB port.
The cost of a single lantern ranges from Rs 1100 to Rs 1500. The battery of the gadget lasts for almost seven hours, says Mir, a recipient of “Sristi Saman Award” from Gujarat University in 2008.
The GIAN Cell has helped Mir to take his innovation to the world.
Once the GIAN got the proposal approved from NIF they convinced the Institute for supporting Mir financially to take the lantern to the market.
“If he succeeds in developing the asked 20 lantern, we will provide him seed capital for developing another 200 lantern,” said Technical officer, GIAN, Er Shabir Ahmad Kutay.
The cell has already sent the prototype for patient to NIF. “This lantern idea is really working,” says Kutay. “It is gaining popularity in Kashmir and even outside.”
Mir has maintained the traditional Kashmiri touch in his singing lantern while doing away with disadvantages in traditional gadget like high cost of use, the fire risk and adverse effect on health.

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