From a school dropout to an innovator: it has indeed been a long journey for Syed Sajjad Ahmed of Bangalore. Like his icon, former President A PJ Abdul Kalam, the 63-year old is all excitement as he shows off his “solar-electric car” to anyone and everyone who exhibits even a little bit of interest in his self-designed four-wheeler.
He has driven the vehicle 3,000 kilometres, all the way from Bangalore to Delhi, to take part in the first India International Science Fair (IISF). The arduous journey, that included crossing the Vindhya Range, took him 30 days. Mr Ahmed’s modified car is equipped with a set of five solar panels, each with a capacity of 100 watts. The power generated by the panels propels the machine through a bank of six batteries, each with a capacity of 12 volts and 100 amps.
He is proud of the fact that his small car withstood the test of the long trek. “There were times when we thought we would not be able to take the steep climbs on the Ghat roads. But, my baby stood by me and crossed all the hurdles without much trouble,” said Mr Ahmed. Born in Kolar, 70 km from Bangalore, Mr Ahmed began his life as a fruit vendor and then went on to set up a shop for repair and assembly of electronic goods starting off with transistors, tape recorders and television sets and antennae and moving on to computers before taking the giant leap forward to realise his childhood dream of “doing something for society”.
“While in school, I used to look at the pictures of scientists in the textbooks and wanted to become one myself. I had to leave school at the age of 15 to start earning for the family. But the fire to create something that would be of use to humanity kept burning within me.” The break came in 2002. “I told myself that I am 50 now and I must do something before I become too old and infirm”.
Mr. Ahmed began by modifying a two-wheeler to run on electric power and moved on to a three wheeler and then a four wheeler. He received the Karnataka Government’s award for environment protection, instituted in honour of the late Dr Kalam, in 2006 for his innovation.
He has taken his innovations to exhibitions and fairs in different parts of the country. “I have so far travelled 1.1 lakh kilometres across the country, and I will keep travelling as long as I can to promote the spirit of innovation.”
He is accompanied by a cousin who travels in a regular car alongside. The companion, Salim Pasha, is also a businessman specialising in sericulture.
Mr. Ahmed has a clear purpose for the journey: “It is a journey for change to inspire, ignite, innovate, and educate the public, especially students, about Dr Kalam’s Vision 2020 for uplifting the country.
His trip to Delhi started from Raj Bhavan in Bangalore on November 1. He is now planning a visit to Haridwar before returning home at the end of the Science Fair. “I want to take the blessings of the Ganga river before returning,” Mr. Ahmed said.
IISF 2015, hosted by IIT Delhi from December 4-8, is organised by the Ministries of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences in association with Vijnana Bharati, the largest science movement in the country. The Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) is the nodal agency for the event.