When Yavatmal district's Class 10 student Anjali Gode and her teacher modified a cycle to make it a self-spraying pump two years ago, little did they imagine that the project would be appreciated by a person no less than former Indian president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
Anjali, a student of Ghatanji's SPM Girls High School and her guide-and-school teacher Atul Sureshrao Thakare had their moment of pride on Sunday when the former president inaugurated the 22nd Children's Science Congress at the MMRDA ground in Mumbai's Bandra-Kurla Complex.
The project, that has won awards at the district and state level, stood out for its simple innovation and was displayed prominently by the organisers - becoming the only project at the children's exhibition to be personally examined by Kalam.
The world-renowned scientist, pressed for time as a packed auditorium was waiting to hear him at the Mumbai University's Kalina campus, talked to the girl, appreciated her work and took the project brief, promising her that he would read it.
"Very good," said Kalam, and encouraged the girl for further innovations in science. He asked Anjali what she wanted to do in life, and was very pleased to hear that she planned to pursue a degree in agriculture.
"I am very thrilled after meeting him. I'm still shivering after I shook hands with him," said Gode.
The cycle-pump project is a modified cycle in which the seat has been replaced with the pesticide-spraying pump, and the paddle and the pump rod are joined so that the paddle works as the gear. When moved around (with hands, not by pedalling), it sprays the pesticides in the field.
The front and the back wheels have been swapped to produce a larger pressure on the water inside the pump that comes out through a series of nozzles fitted into a long rod at the rear of the cycle.
"Normally, the farmers carry the heavy pump, that carries around 16 litres of water mixed with pesticides. While the pump strains the farmers' shoulders, the close contact with pesticides can affect their health. This simple machine solves both issues," said Thakare.
Anjali's father Sanjay Gode, who proposed the concept and the necessity of such a machine to her daughter, said, "I am a farmer and this machine can be very useful to people like me. I am very proud of Anjali. We had never imagined she would be blessed by Kalam himself," he said.
"Every farmer has a pump. By making a further investment of around Rs 4,000 on the cycle and other equipment, this machine can be created," said Gode.