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