Having been repeatedly dismissed as an innovator, Naik Qayoom never thought of giving up. His interest in innovations was often considered madness by others, but he thought that if it was madness, he didn’t want to gain sanity.

From Dooru area in Anantnag, Naik is not only a national innovator but also a beacon of hope for people who want to go into the field of innovations. Currently studying electrical engineering in Delhi, he started innovating at an early age. At that time, when people around him saw him playing with the machines, they called it a “waste of time”.

“I was good at studies from the start and when I got interested in innovations and started to devote more time to it, people told me that I was playing with my career. They told me that my books could make my career and not the machines and devices,” he said.

Initially, he focused on basic problems and tried to find solutions with the help of technology. In 6th grade, he made a prototype automatic rice separator to clean rice. Traditionally, the rice is cleaned manually and this also has health consequences because the eyes, neck and back are constantly strained.

He said: “The function of the rice separator was to facilitate the cleaning process which traditionally took 2-3 days. The rice separator made by me would do the job in 30 minutes or 1 hour. My first innovation gave me the confidence that I can do more than that.

A year later, he made another innovation called envo cleaner to purify the air and prevent air pollution. The model would operate on three gases: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane.

As a child, his innovations could not attract more attention than he expected due to lack of platform and he had no idea where he would be appreciated and guided. Kashmir University’s NIF J&K Cell guided him. “It took me a long time to understand some things and I had the idea that I could also do marketing for my products. I was very interested in science and technology and I learned everything I was taught,” he said.

While he was in 11and standard, he went to IIT Delhi to receive training in robotics. He said: “When I came back, I made a robot which was waterproof and flammable and which was very useful in the event of a fire.”

The robot named C Qab Rabo had a camera installed inside. The robot can be sent inside the building that has caught fire and the user can see the fire inside the building. Many people liked the template, but also received criticism from some people.

He said: “They told me I was not an IITian or NITian and that I should clear my 12and class exam first instead of making robots. In their to seeI was still a child.

Later, after moving to Delhi to pursue engineering studies, he participated in many events where he talked about himself and his innovations. The thing that bothered him was why can’t he he does it in Kashmir.

When his speeches started spreading through the village, a private school namely Sir Syed Memorial Educational Institute called him to speak at the science awareness event where he spoke about the technology that inspired many young people to embrace the field.

After that, he was called to a number of events, where he talked about the field of science and technology and gradually with like-minded people, a science club called Shining Star Innovative Club was formed in 2015. In 2016, the club was registered under Vigyan Prasar and is a member of VIPNET (Vigyan Prasar Network of Science Club). Thanks to his club, he started doing science awareness camps and organized many competitions.

Through the club, new and young innovators come into contact with the various innovation cells set up by the government. He said that the innovators belong to different districts of Kashmir and with the help of his motivational speeches and YouTube videos, they got in touch with him.

He said: “What was missing was awareness of science, technology and innovations. We got children and young people and started doing outreach programs. Awareness is important because I had to fight for my recognition as an innovator because people had no knowledge of it, so we decided to change the way people think.

Currently, he is working on a number of innovations. The automatic seed drill is one of the successful innovations. The single machine can be used for different types of seedlings.

Recently, he presented an innovation to the Punjab University of Agriculture for an Apple portable grader. In the innovation competition held across India, he was shortlisted among 1500 students across India and also passed the final stage of the competition. The innovation is supported by the Punjab Agriculture University. The machine is affordable and can grade fruits by size and color.

For both machines, patents have been filed. National Innovation Foundation Cell J&K and Center for Innovations Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), Institute of Technology, University of Kashmir are other organizations supporting Naik in its innovations. He said, “I am guided by Mr. Sameer, sir, who provided immense support to create my recognition. Fortunately, I was able to meet some helpful people who made my trip easier.

To give a boost to agriculture in Kashmir, he and co-founder Abid lateef set up a company under the name of B. Naik Agriculture Technology. The company manufactures machinery and devices related to agriculture. Naik said the company has received a good response and is led by Kashmiri innovators. He said, “Despite a larger population in Kashmir who depend on the agriculture sector for their livelihood, traditional methods are being adopted for cultivation and planting purposes. Through our company, we want to introduce new affordable technologies in the field of agriculture that will make people’s work easier and also boost agricultural production.

Naik, 23, said the struggle he faced, the young innovatorwe shouldn’t face the same. “Kids or people in my club don’t have to travel from place to place to present their innovations. I want to give them a platform where their ideas are appreciated nationally because many innovators don’t know what to do with their innovation. A single innovation can change society, so all innovations are important,” he said.

Naik, who also teaches physics and chemistry at a training center, believes that with the way he teaches, he coaches children to join the field.

“My way of teaching is practical. I want my kids to be prepared for tomorrow and if someone tells them they can’t do this or that, they should ignore it like I did,” he concluded.