There are 8 million rickshaw pullers in India. Most spend years paying high rental fees and never succeed in owning their own vehicles. But Pradip Sarmah has designed a new type of rickshaw that is helping some of the hardest-working people in India obtain a better reward for their labor.
The Inventor-Entrepreneur as Pioneer, System Changer, and Role Model for Future Generations.
There are 8 million rickshaw pullers in India. Most spend years paying high rental fees but never succeed in owning their own rickshaws.
This is the story of the creation of a new, ergonomic, and inexpensive rickshaw in Guwahati, India
PRADIP SARMAH [Ashoka-Lemelson Fellow]
In the year 2002, once I traveled with a cycle rickshaw in Guwahati. He never owned it [the rickshaw] and yet he rides this rickshaw for 16 years. If I could come out with a new design of rickshaw, with a bigger space on the back side, and I could sell that space to a corporation, he could have been the owner of that rickshaw by the end of the year.
As a result of his innovation, nearly 4,000 rickshaw pullers are now riding lighter, safer, and more affordable vehicles, all featuring income-generating advertisements (so drivers can afford to finance and own their rickshaw), meanwhile receiving social benefits, such as accident insurance and health care.
So, with that idea, I approached Indian Institute of Technology to develop a new rickshaw design, and very interestingly the corporations then came forward to sponsor 100 rickshaw advertisements. The new designed rickshaw has three dimensions: the technical dimension, the financial dimension, and the social dimension. The new designed rickshaw, which is running in Guwahati or even in other parts of the country, it's 40 percent lighter than the traditional rickshaw. The base is lower, the gravity is well centered. It's well covered for the both rickshaw pullers, as well as the passengers. The back space we are using as an advertisement cost, helps us a lot, giving support to the rickshaw driver. Traditional rickshaws can move in a very high speed. But here, purposefully, we have controlled the speed, and that's why, as of today, our rickshaw has never tilted over.
Pradip Sarmah continues to advance the social, financial, and the technological systems for rickshaw pullers. He is currently working on implementing the Soleckshaw, a motorized rickshaw driven by solar battery power, which will ease the physical burden placed on rickshaw drivers.
Rippling created by Ashoka and the Magnum Foundation, with support from The Lemelson and Woodcock Foundations