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 Masha Nazeem 

Date of Publish - Wednesday, 31st January 2018

Masha Nazeem states her story about her innovations

From the time I was a little girl, my dreams had always been markedly different from other children my age. It was a vision that had obviously been nurtured by my father’s bedtime stories about the Wright brothers and Edison, those fascinating stories which had impacted my childhood years. My father always says”Take the path less travelled.. The whole world will follow you”

My first interest in my child hood day was drawing pictures. For this I have received a prize form Dist. Collector in those days. Then I was attracted towards dance- especially Bharathanattiam. I learnt dance movements from TV programs. I became popular in my kinder garden school for my different dance styles. It was a proud moment for me when I received a prize from the hands of Mrs. Latha Rajini Kanth for a dance performance when I was 6 years old.
During these days my interest shifted towards toys and its working. At that time It seems, when other children played with their toys I would dismantle car, clock, torch light to explore how it is worked. I made good use of a golden opportunity I had, took part in a school science exhibition and won prize for a burglar alarm system I designed. This encouraged me to attempt more and more projects in science.
When I was 12, the Dist level science expo was organised at our school itself. Knowing my passion in science, my teachers motivated me to win prize for our school at any cost. At that time I happened to read in newspapers that the then Railway Minister Lallu Prasad Yadav had warned that any one throwing waste on the railway track would be penalised. In this news I got the spark for developing my 4th project- Hi Tech train toilet.
The Hi Tech train toilet has a cylindrical storage tank fitted under the train toilet. The tank’s outlet has an electromagnet valve. When the train approaches a station the Engine driver closes the valves with the mere touch of a button and the toilet waste collects in the tank. The tracks at the station remain clean. When the train goes out of town the engine driver can open the valves and dump the toilet waste where there is no human habitation.
I got first prize in that expo for this model.
Then I got selected for the State Science Expo at Coimbatore where I had not received even a consolation prize though my project was very much appreciated by the public and media. All the participants had heroed the CEO and demanded justice for me. Then my name was included in the list of participants to attend the Southern India Science Fair. I got the First prize in that expo for the same train toilet system.
Encouraged by this prize, I wrote a letter to Dr. Kalam - the then president of India to allow me to make a demo of train tolilet project. I got the invitation and presented my project before Dr. Kalam at the Rastapahty Bhavan. On the same day I also gave a demo with the Railway Board in the presence of the Railway Minister.
Meeting with Dr. Kalam at the Rastrapathy bhavan was one of best moments in my life. I am still preserving the citation signed by him. I consider this the greatest award in my life – greater than even the other international awards.
Disappointment awaited me when I got home. My train toilet project had not been included in the National Science expo citing the reason that I had not got any prize in the State Expo. The jubilation of the Delhi trip was dampened. As though to balance things, I received a letter from the then Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh congratulating my young age achievements. This was a great consolation for me in those dark days.
In the meantime, the Chennai press club invited me to share my experiences with Dr. Kalam. In that meeting I also expressed my inability to attend the National Expo. This news appeared all over India which mounted pressure on the Govt.
The next day the Governor of Tamil Nadu has invited me to Raj Bhavan and was kind enough to hear my problem. On his intervention, the special invitation for the National Science Expo reached me by Fax at the last moment. Due to want of time I went to Raipur at Chhattisgarh by flight – that was my first air travel.
Thus, after a long battle, I attended the National Science Expo and got my first National Prize. Finally I proved my train toilet project was worthy of a national award.
Then I was invited to present my project in the 93rd Indian Science Congress, an assemblage of Scientists from all over the world at Hyderabad. President Dr. Kalam came there to interact with the student participants. I met Dr. Kalam for the second time. I got a special prize there too for train toilet project.
My third meeting with Dr. Kalam happened at New Delhi again when he came to inaugurate the World Toilet summit 2007. I was a special invitee to this global conference in which 46 countries participated. There I presented a paper on disposal of toilet wastages in running trains at my age of 14. The media in Delhi reported that I could perhaps be the youngest person who presented a research paper in a world conference.
Thus, in spite of various hurdles, I had gone from strength to strength, from school level to southern India level and National level to international level. If I had not attempted further after losing in the state level expo, I would not have come up to this level. Also I would have not able to meet President Dr. Kalam 3 times in one year. I firmly believe that it was my qualities of patience and perseverance which helped me to win such laurels.
Now I am going to tell you the story of my 7th innovation. It was 2008 and I had just taken my SSLC Exams. TV channels flashed the news – “Fire at SSLC Valuation Centre… Thousands of answer sheets burned.” I was worried about the fate of my papers because I myself had written my board exam in that batches itself. My father hinted that an overlooked flame used for melting the lac for sealing the valuation center could have caused the fire. I had a sleepless night on that day and during mid night I got the spark for a new invention -Flameless Seal Maker.
The Flameless seal Maker is a safe electrical device. We can affix seals without using naked flames. Just load the lac pieces into the loading zone and we can get beautiful circular seals by pressing a piston. The device is fire risk free, fire burn free smoke free, hassle free, hazard free.
I received National award – IGNITE 2009 for the Seal Maker from the hands of Dr. Kalam at IIM, Ahmedabad. That was my fourth meeting with Dr. Kalam. There Dr. Kalam himself affixed a seal using my device.
When I was taking my plus 2 exams, I faced another problem. I was invited to present my Seal Maker project at the IISc, Bangalore. But this interview date clashed with my plus 2 practical test. If I attended the Project interview at IISc, I would get a golden chance of getting direct admission in IIT. So both the tests- plus 2 Practical test and the project Interview were equally important for my academic career. My teachers advised me to skip the Interview.. But I wanted to appear for both the exams at any cost.
I didn’t lose my hope. I wrote a letter to the then Dist. Collector praying for help. On his intervention, the practical test for the whole school were rescheduled enabling me to attend both the tests. I did well in the IISc interview and became a KVPY scholar. I was offered direct admission – an M.S seat at IISER, Bhopal. I consider this - postponing the board test for a single student- as a great recognition of merit and talent. All the rigid rules became flexible in my case.

You may wonder that as many as 45 million seals are affixed all over India in 9 lakh polling stations during election process. Knowing the usefulness of my device, Dr. Quraishi - the then Chief Election Commissioner of India - had invited me to New Delhi. There I made a 65 minutes presentation before the Election Commission.

In follow up, the Election Commission successfully tested my seal maker in 2 polling booths in Kanyakumari district in the last Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections. This was the first time in India that a Govt Seal was affixed without using naked flame. Also this was the first time a student’s innovative idea was implemented by a mighty Govt.
Now.. I would like to tell you another story on my eighth innovation. I visited Japan as a guest invitee of the Govt of Japan in 2010. I was just 15 years old then and I travelled alone. During this 10 day trip, I had a various transit journeys across Japan in Flight or bullet trains. At Air ports I found it difficult to lift my luggage from the conveyor belt to luggage trolley and from trolley to car. Here I got the idea for my eighth project –Mechanical porter.
Unlike an ordinary luggage trolley, my mechanical porter can do all the 3 works that a manual porter can do. i.e lifting, carrying and placing. That`s why I named it after Mechanical Porter. Here the platform of my mechanical porter is movable – can be moved up and down by turning the hand pedal.

I got Ignite 2010 award again - this time for my mechanical porter. By this I again got a chance to meet Dr. Kalam for the 6th time and received the IGNITE 2010 award from his golden hands.

IGNITE 2010 was my last chance in IGNITE as I completed plus 2 that time. However Shri. Anil Gupta the Executive Chairman of the NIF- National Innovation Foundation which conducts Ignite Competition has requested me to work for NIF as an ambassador. As such, I started visiting several schools, gave motivational speeches and mobilized more entries for Ignite. In due course I became a motivational speaker.

In a mission to popularise science among students, I have travelled more than 2 lakh Kilo Meters across India Visited more than 110 Institutions met about 11 lakh students so far. My 100th Talk show held at Sri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi in the Event – Tomorrow`s India Global Summit.

Motivated by my speech, many students across India have requested me for guidance and support. So I have opened a website and started helping them through online. Now I have assumed a new role as a technology educator.
Because of my tireless work during 2013, two school students won IGNITE awards under my motivation and guidance. I shared this happy news with our then District Collector of Kanyakumari. He encouraged me to open an exclusive centre to help school kids.
Now a brief show on the activities in my centre.
Here I would like to mention the TATA Jagriti Yatra which helped me in setting up my innovation centre. During 2013, I was one among the 400 selected youths who performed this 15 day train journey across India in a mission to develop entrepreneurship. During this journey, I met several successful social entrepreneurs and learnt in person how they became successful. At the end of this trip I turned myself from being a job seeker to job creator as well as a social entrepreneur.
Besides running my innovation centre as a non profit organisation, now I have developed a business plan – conducting classes on Creative science in some schools on payment basis. For this I have designed syllabus - an innovative syllabus which has no exams at all! Here everything is taught in practical. This is my novel idea of a model science class which I had dreamed in my school days. Now I am going to extend this scheme to more other schools in my District by appointing more teachers. I am happy to say that now I am an entrepreneur myself, besides being a student.
Here I have to mention my recent US trip. I got the spark of setting up this business model from my recent 2 week Entrepreneurship training at Google, Face book Auto Desk Head Quarters at Silicon Valley- US.
Now, I am happy to note here that there is an offer of financial grant from one foundation in US. Now my dream – to upgrade my centre into a national centre of excellence - is going to materialize soon. Also I am happy to share that the Governor of Kerala has consented to visit my centre

For these social works I was conferred with State youth award and National Youth award as well.
in the last 15 years and so , even as a student I have gone strength from strength- and now I would like to recall and dedicate them at the feet of Dr. Kalam.

– getting direct admission in an IIT Institution.
meeting Dr. Kalam 6 times,
the rare opportunity of demonstrating my projects with 2 Indian presidents, 6 Governors and 7 CMS-Including Modiji,
getting my project implemented by the Election Commission and Indian Railways,
visiting many countries,
getting the golden opportunity to get training with Google, Sanyo, and Panasonic,
And guiding many students to win national awards.

This was made possible because I made bold enough to go beyond curriculum… beyond campus!


Even as a small kid, I started my activity as an artist and dancer. As a grown up child, I turned myself as a project maker and then became an inventor. So far I have 12 social innovations to my credit. Then I moved forward to the next level as a Technology Educator and project guide to school kids. In due course I became a motivational speaker too. I have travelled 2 lakh KM across India, visited many schools met 11 lakh students so far in a mission to popularise creative science among school kids. Now I am an entrepreneur as well and have given job to engineering students.

Now I am - keeping my head high - saying that I am a disciple of Dr. Kalam. Yes I was just a seed sown by Dr. Kalam 10 years back – when I was 12- when I met him first at Rashtrapathi bhavan. – Now this seed becomes a small tree started providing inspiration to next generations. It is just Dr Kalam`s vision which inspired and guided me to win such laurels to our beloved Nation. I am not alone. Hundreds of like minded peoples in India working to realise the dreams of Dr. Kalam.
Now, like every Indian I truly believe…
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, has not been buried... but sown.

Author :
Masha Nazeem


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