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dna young turks: All down to science

Friday, 2 May 2014 - 7:57pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Three bright young minds are embarking on a scientific crusade in a city that trails behind in the fields of technology and invention

The world that we live in today has replaced manpower by machines and hour-long waits to merely minutes, one experiment, a plethora of results, some negative, a few positive but all representing data points that illustrate leads to a lurking question. Scientists have proven, since time immemorial, that probing can lead to anything from democratising healthcare with the help of appliances that can be used at home to opening up a car with the help of a phone. And mere mortals are now taking keen interest in science: from online orgies erupting in scientific conspiracy theories in response to a missing plane to debates over animal testing in fields that could change the world as we view it. The enormous potential that rests in the microcosm of scientific advancements has led to a wave of youngsters wanting to make life-changing breakthroughs. Interestingly, the Mumbai youth has, in the recent years, worked on the void that exists in science: the absence of data has led to three prodigies seeking patterns within the ickle of evidence available to create breakthroughs in the fields of medicine, healthcare and environmental sustainability.

Ashna Roy
: 23 yrs.
Air pollution in India is said to have hit an all-time high shares TIME magazine in their latest health study report, making it the "fifth biggest threat to people's lives" in the country. Add to that the nonchalance and insensitivity towards the environment along with a lack of educated awareness amongst the masses, and we have ourselves a country well on its way of being a worldwide environmental calamity. It turns out that the youth in Mumbai is not shying away from that eventuality, providing long-term solutions to consequential problems.

Let there be light...
...says Ashna Roy, a 23-year-old Mumbai resident who whipped her college project JalJyoti into actuality, all in the quest of cheaper and efficient ways to light urban slums in Mumbai, given the lack of electricity provisioned to many of them. Based on Alfred Moser's idea called The Bottled Light, Roy uses regular 1.5l water bottles filled with clean water and 10ml of bleach to curb the growth of algae that is installed in a hole in the roofs of many homes. The bottle then provides natural daylight into the entire home, based on the principle of light refraction, and all at the mere cost of a water bottle. Roy is a Xaviers' alumnus whose venture is said to emit light of a 55w bulb, all while lasting five years. Roy also engages in volunteer work with AIDS patients at the Jyotish Care Centre.

Angad Daryani
: 15 yrs.
Simple changes, smarter innovations, faster answers are part of today's anachronisms for scientists. The genesis of a new era of genetic medicine helping to predict human behaviour and the glaring gaps in the technological arena have led to minds creating life-altering applications and software.

Digitising Braille
A school drop-out, a tech genius and all of 15, Angad Daryani's device—the Virtual Braille—helps convert digital text from Roman to Braille in real time for the virtually-challenged. His low-cost e-book for the blind is said to be a revolutionary product completed in three nights that makes reading accessible to hordes who are dependant on a limited array of Braille books. This TEDx speaker dove into the world of tech at the age of 13, when he built the RepRap 3D printer that he supplied to institutions like IIT Mumbai. From making a remote-controlled hovercraft to creating a solar-powered boat in his early years, Daryani now works closely with MIT in Boston on their India Initiative.

Myshkin Ingawale
: 30+ yrs.
Having come a long way from when computers took up entire rooms, augmenting the human intellect at the touch of a button is the holy grail of engineers and tech-lovers all around the world. Visionaries with innate knowledge or prodigies with an in-depth understanding of the world's technological needs, we aren't sure what to call them but some Mumbai-based inventors are looking to transform the way people communicate and play.

Revolutionary medical tests
A blood test without pricking? An app for urine testing? Myshkin Ingawale, co-founder of Biosense Technology, knows a thing or two about that. MIT-graduate and Mumbaikar, Ingawale is the scientific brain behind uChek—a smart-phone based urine analysis device, and touchB7—a needle-free anaemia screening tool that works on the optical principle all while giving out results instantly. He calls himself an electrical engineer-turned-B-school PhD-holder-turned-management-consultant-turned-tech entrepreneur.

Scope for improvement
"The landscape when looking at green-living, sustainability and keeping the environment clean has scope for improvement. Young people need to have a huge say in this. They can contribute by joining any of the active campaigns in the city which a few of us have been carrying out for years. People like Debartha Bannerjee and Manish Gadia have been doing some exceptional work in protecting the environment."
Rishi Aggarwal environmental activist

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