A serial grassroots innovator from Dharwad, Karnataka, Abdul Khader Nadakattin, whose popular inventions like tamarind seeds separator has earned him the title of ‘tamarind maniac’, is among the 107 recipients of the coveted Padma Shri award for the year 2022.
Abdul Khader Nadakattin gets the prestigious award for his works under the grassroots Innovation category. His prominent innovations include a device to separate tamarind seeds, ploughing blade manufacturing machine, a Seed cum fertilizer drill, a Water-heating boiler, an Automatic sugarcane sowing driller, and a wheel tiller, according to a Ministry of Science and Technology note here.
Owing to his portfolio of innovations related to tamarind, people started calling him “hunase huccha”, which means tamarind maniac. It started with his success in growing tamarind with scarce but alkaline water and further graduated with experiments like the technique for harvesting tamarind from the tree and also the highly accepted machine to separate tamarind seeds. This inspired him to develop a machine for slicing tamarind. In furtherance of success with tamarind, he came up with innovations to address agriculture operations like deep ploughing, sowing of seeds, and also fuel-efficient water heating boiler.
Abdul Khader Nadakattin’s innovations demonstrate principles of sustainability, cost-effectiveness, eco-friendliness, and most importantly social acceptance. His in-depth knowledge of agro-climatic conditions and soil characteristics has made him an inspiration to other farmers in the country, the ministry note stated.
Nadakattin’s first innovation was an “A Wa(h!)ter Alarm,” which was his personalized attempt to solve his own nature of sleeping till late in the mornings. He tied a thin rope at the end of the key of the alarm in such a way that when the key unwound itself, the string tied to the key got wound. The string was in turn tied to a bottle filled with water, when the key was completely unwound, the bottle would tilt, and the water would fall on his face.
The grassroots innovator has also developed agri-technologies and implements which addressed a variety of needs for the local people while maintaining relevance with modern agriculture.
Supported by National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India, an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, Abdul Khader Nadakattin was conferred with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 during NIF’s 8th National Grassroots Innovation and Outstanding Traditional Knowledge Awards by the then Hon’ble President of India Pranab Mukherjee.
True to his grassroots spirit and as a mark of respect for the award, he chose to walk barefoot and hence came to be known as the country’s “barefoot scientist”.