Moulding ideas into Innovations, Kashmir

Afoot through the Kashmir Valleys’ (1902) by Marion Doughty rightly describes the forgotten Kashmir that unfolds under “the walnuts and the mulberries, shady and fruitful, ready to aid the hard lives of the people by their bountiful stores of food stuffs.”
These old books remind us of different times in the Kashmir Valley and will make you wish peace prevailed forever in our Paradise.Kashmir has walnut tress everywhere and a lot of people in the village and even the rest of Kashmir are involved in cultivating and selling walnuts. In fact it is one of the major sources of income for people of Jammu and Kashmir.
But, Kashmiri walnuts are a tough nut to crack. Manual walnut peeling and cracking is a tedious process. Also the sap of the walnut skin burns hands and stains clothes. So, the need of the hour was a WALNUT CRACKER which could easily crack, peel and wash walnuts saving huge time and manual labour.

mushtaq_dar

Oh wait, but Dr. G M Bhat, Director of University Science Instrumentation Centre (USIC) and Advisor, Entrepreneurship development Cell (EDC), University of Kashmir, says: “Such walnut cracker isn’t available even in China, where there is a flourishing walnut industry”.
Then how will we have it here in Kashmir???
‘Eureka!’ we have MUSHTAQ AHMAD DAR!

“Must is a hard nut to crack, but it has a sweet kernel.”
A walnut is totally tough on the inside but once you manage to crack that shell, then you are in for a treat. Keeping that in mind Mushtaq came up with a practical technological solution to the persistent problem. His keen eye for the problem led to an innovation which every Indian is proud of today.

“Innovations which help the poorest and the most deprived, are true innovations. India specialises in such innovations, though not many are widely known.”

Kreeri village in Shahabad area of South Kashmir, Islamabad district is no different in its beauty and allure than other places of Kashmir, but what sets it apart is that the place has given birth to a lot of innovators; three persons have come up with five interesting ones in last few years. Among those inhabitants is Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, who had a fondness for putting his creative ideas to practice right from his childhood.

Since he was a keen observer, he thought a machine that would help mechanically peel walnuts would be a great idea. So he developed a manually-operated walnut cracker, peeler and washer machine that can peel, wash and crack up to 80 kg of green walnuts of various sizes, shapes and thickness per hour without damaging the fruit inside, a process which would take days if done traditionally by hand.

Walnut cracker

“I used two wooden drums between whom the space can be adjusted according to the size of the nut. Walnuts are cracked between them as the drums start rolling while the cracked nuts are left beneath,” he explains.
This crude model of his walnut cracker machine was further modified by Dr Bhat and his team to increase the efficiency.
This home-grown technology has made life a lot easier. His innovation has made sure that walnut cultivation and production thrives and we can feel proud to serve the perfect gift from the Chinar country that anyone would be happy to snack on.

premium-quality-kashmiri-walnut-without-shell-gift-pack-6-97

The creative genius has participated in a workshop on Inventors of India, organised by prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and was awarded a certificate for ‘knowledge network for incubating innovations into enterprises’.
The innovation impressed agencies from many countries including Gigi Cheung of China, Joe of Australia, Papakonstantinou A of Greece and Peter Kondrat of Poland have approached Dar for manufacturing rights of walnut cracker.

I feel elated. It is great feeling when requests for manufacturing rights by international agencies come,” Dar says.

He has received many accolades for his innovations and says it only increases his drive.

His mind was always open to the problems faced by people around him and he took interest in solving them. Dar did not stop there and went on to inventing a Pole climber for electricians as well. It could also be used for tree climbing.

“I am working on making a mechanical washing machine that can wash bulky clothes, particularly carpets. The machine should be ready in a couple of months”, he says.

Innovating better ways of living have made a qualitative difference in the lives of the local communities. All these inventions were in direct answer to a felt need, which obviously wouldn’t be addressed by formal channels. Adversity brings out the best in us, that’s why I guess Indians are innovative, even in such adverse circumstances.

“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”
Keep coming back for more such hidden jewels

Beginning of Film Making Courses in Kashmir

Beginning of Film Making Courses in Kashmir

“Ye chand sa raushan chehra zulfon ka rang sunhera,

Ye jhil si nili aankhe, koi raaz hain inme gehra……….”

This song reminds the older generation of Shammi Kapoor singing to Sharmila Tagore in Kashmir Ki Kali in the midst of serene Dal Lake, Srinagar, and the younger ones of Ranbir Kapoor imitating Shammi Kapoor in Rockstar. In both the conditions the setting of Dal Lake and its magnificent beauty remains contagious. I can’t really hide my excitement when it comes to film shootings in Kashmir.  It happens often that we come across actors of the Bollywood industry. We have also witnessed various films being shot in our beautiful valley. Many of us have seen the snippets of shooting of popular films like Rockstar, Haider, and Ye Jawani Hai Deewani in the past years. Kashmir is not just a scenic beauty but also a hub of talent, which given an opportunity and right guidance will glow with names of its people.

Beginning of Treasure Hunt

Beginning of Treasure Hunt

Beauty & history of Kashmir leading to film shooting in the valley, and recognition of Kashmiri descent actors like Raaj Kumar, Jeevan, Anupam Kher, Manav Kaul, etc. is a renowned and recognised phenomenon. The dynamics of genius began to show when in 2011 Parallel Post, an e-magazine, in collaboration with Islamic University of Science & Technology (IUST), Awantipora organised a film festival called Verite Film Festival. The festival is held every year since its inauguration in 2011. It is aimed at exploring the hidden and budding talent in the field of film making among youth. The objective of the film festival is to brush and groom the potentials of short-story or documentary film makers across the country, especially from Kashmir. One such awarded film screened by Verite Film festival is Life on Wheels by Adil Shah.

 

Initiative of FTII- Film and Television Institute of India

Initiative of FTII- Film and Television Institute of India

Though held every year, Verite did not suffice the exposure that the youth required, they were missing the availability of guidance while opportunity was in abundance. Recently and for the very first time, FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) collaborated with Indian Army in Kashmir to roll out short-term Film Making Courses for the students interested in acting, smartphone filmmaking and screenplay writing. The initiative is engagingly welcomed by the students in Kashmir as a large amount of participants enrolled for the courses that will begin from 25 June, 2018 extending to 15-20 days of classes.

Object and Benefits

The short-term courses will help the students to realise their skills and potential in film making and learn about the right forms and methods used in the field. These courses will provide them with exposure and the opportunity to learn from highly qualified experts in the subject. I myself aspire a career in Film Making, to document my childhood experience of living in Awoora, Anantnag with my nain (grandmother), capture her delicious recipes and instil her Kashmiriyat into my film. FTII courses will give students like me the opportunity to learn and accomplish our dreams in the field. Once we learn well, we will be able to showcase better. There are platforms like KIFF (Kashmir International Film Festival) where the skills of Kashmiris in film making are exposed to entire world. KIFF serves as a huge platform for recognition of the potential present in Kashmir.

Vote of Thanks

We students, are all very eager to attend the courses presented by FTII in the categories of acting, film making and screenplay writing. The initiative will help in reviving the culture of Kashmir, the more students take part in it- the more native stories will come forward. In 2017, the film, Kashmir daily, of Kashmiri director Hussein Khan hit the box office in 2017. Hussein is an inspiration to the youth of Kashmir who despite having shifted to Mumbai after schooling decided to come back and produce a Kashmir based film. FTII will provide students with a platform to groom their talent and help them to explore the infinite boundaries of Film industry. At New Age Kashmir we appreciate their endeavour and aim to spread a word about the opportunity at hand.