Sukun – A Ray of Hope

 By: Alankrita Anand (PR Co-ordinator)

 

 

 

 

For those of who who have yet not heard of the latest convertible in town, it’s a modern (and may I add, swanky) incarnation of the humble rickshaw, and as reiterated by the project head time and again, Sukun is not a technological innovation for it’s primary purpose is to use existing technologies to make lives better. We, at the TSL, laud the compassionate efforts of Team Sukun. Here’s their story….

Initiated in May last year, the project was carried out by a group of Stephenians as part of a university initiative to encourage research and innovation at the under-graduate level. The decision to create the ‘luxury’ rickshaw came after undertaking ground level surveys and much research which revealed that 30% of Delhi’s homeless were rickshaw-pullers. Propelled by the needs of those who cater to our daily needs, St. Stephen’s College (the Dept. of History and the Dept. of Physics) in collaboration with St. Stephen’s Hospital embarked upon this ambitious project. Aptly christened, the Sukun rickshaw is designated to bring relief to the city’s homeless.

Over six months, the team, guided by Mr. Malay Neerav, Dr. Kamna Pandey and Dr. Jacob Cherian, mentored by Dr. Amod Kumar and assisted by Ankur Rawal (design), worked meticulously to design the country’s first rickshaw fully equipped with a solar panel, a radio, head lights, tail lights (and a reading light!), an electric fan and a mobile charging port amongst other features. What’s more, the seat can be rolled out into a 6ft. bed complete with a mosquito net that can be drawn around it. Clearly, the needs of those tired muscles stressed by hours of exercise and the problems arising therefrom have been given due consideration. And while your swanky four-wheeler may not have a provision that keeps bottles of water cool, this modern convertible deploys an indigenous technology from Rajasthan that uses hay to do so!


Team Sukun

Moving over the technical aspects and on to the financial ones, the Stephanians have come up with a micro-finance scheme that allows the rickshaw pullers to make the payment in installments of Rs.50 per day against the daily rent of Rs.50 that they currently pay for a rickshaw costing around Rs.8500. Moreover, with the EMI system in place, the puller becomes the owner after a duration of six months after which the cost of Rs.15,000 is covered. The EMI also covers health insurance and the maintenance costs. Now, that is a much needed change. Thank you, Team Sukun. The additional costs are to be taken care of through advertisements on the rear panels. In an encouraging start, quite a few orders have been placed in the first few months. We hope that there will be many more.

Sukun, more than anything else, was a humbling experience, as put by team leader Saurabh Chaudhary. Here’s a heartening anecdote shared by him, “On a visit to Harsh Mander’s home for homeless children, I encountered a precocious young girl. When I told her that I could not dance, she replied- Agar meri behen jo paralyzed hai naach sakti hai toh aap kyun nahi (If my sister who is paralyzed can dance, why can’t you)?” Apart from making them more technologically literate, the project has made Saurabh, as well as the others, truly sensitive to the difference between a want and a need and how a little work can give many people what they need.

The newspaper headlines may have read ‘Sheila brings Sukun to city’s homeless’ but we here are giving it up to the Sukun Team for their brilliant fusion of innovation, passion and most importantly, compassion. Congratulations, Achievers!

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