Innovating for Humanity: The Extraordinary Path of Harkesh Kataria

As a Dalit, Harkesh recounted an incident where he was initially invited for felicitation on the 15th of August but had his name removed once officials learned of his caste. This led to protests and ultimately the intervention of the SC/ST Commission, resulting in Harkesh later receiving the certificate personally.
Harkesh has invented 40 products, most of them currently in the process of patent approval.
Harkesh has invented 40 products, most of them currently in the process of patent approval.

New Delhi: On the 11th of May, 2023, Technology Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed the importance of technology as a tool for propelling the country's growth trajectory. He emphasized that technology is essential for economic growth, achieving sustainable development goals, and building an inclusive ecosystem.

Harkesh Inventor is one such young individual from the country who has harnessed technology to create innovative solutions that improve and save lives. Hailing from Gurgaon, located 40 kilometers from the national capital Delhi, Harkesh is a graduate in English (Hons) with no major technical degree, but rather, a 2-year diploma in Electronics and Communication, a 6-month Telephone and Mobile Information course, and a 3-month basic automobile course.

Early Beginnings: Harkesh displayed prodigious talent from a young age, claiming to have developed products like a musical fountain and an electric crane at the tender age of 10. He boasts a portfolio of 40 products, all currently in the process of patent approval. However, four of these products were rejected as they were categorized as defence-related.

Innovations That Engage Him

The fruits of Harkesh's labour materialized when one of his inventions received a patent—the Clothesline Retrieval System. This system automatically retrieves clotheslines used for drying clothes in the absence of sunlight or during rainy weather, thanks to a built-in sensor. When questioned about similar products available on YouTube, Harkesh confidently stated, "There is a distinction between a contraption and an invention. The other products you may have seen online are mere contraptions. The government does not grant patents without rigorous verification of the claims. I have dedicated a decade to perfecting this product."

Video grab of Harkesh's presentation of his patented product.
Video grab of Harkesh's presentation of his patented product.

Life-Saving Inventions

Among his other inventions is an anti-suicide fan. When a substantial weight is attached to the fan, its rod automatically lowers, preventing an individual from hanging. Additionally, the fan features a sensor alarm that triggers if someone attempts self-harm. Kataria has applied for a patent for this life-saving invention, though it may take several years due to the complex process. This product has the potential to prevent suicides. Harkesh asserts that this invention is 3-4 years old. Initially, when he posted a video of it on YouTube, it was removed due to references to suicide, violating the platform's community guidelines.

Harkesh's innovative spirit doesn't stop there. He has also developed a sewing machine that generates electricity, a generator that operates without fuel and instead charges from a battery, and an electric meter designed to conserve electricity.

His passion for research led him to a remarkable encounter with Abdul Kalam in 2012 at an exhibition in Gujarat.
His passion for research led him to a remarkable encounter with Abdul Kalam in 2012 at an exhibition in Gujarat.

Inspired Meeting with Kalam

His passion for research led him to a remarkable encounter with Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, in 2012 at an exhibition in Gujarat. Harkesh presented Kalam with a prototype of a traffic management system. In this system, the engine of vehicles is automatically disabled after the traffic light turns red, requiring modifications to both vehicles and traffic lights. Kalam, a scientist himself, encouraged Harkesh to pursue patent applications for his inventions.

Harkesh faced significant challenges in his pursuit of innovation. He shared photos with The Mooknayak that revealed a curved spine, a condition he attributes to more than 21 hours of continuous work. This condition has had a detrimental impact on his health, often causing mobility issues.

Recounting an incident, he described how deeply engrossed he can become in his work, saying, "I was working at home, so immersed in my work that I didn't notice the cup of tea my father had brought me. My father returned and saw that the tea had gone cold, so he brought me another cup and reminded me to drink it. When I left, I mistook the soldering iron, used for galvanizing, for a tea cup and accidentally touched it to my lips, resulting in a burn."

Harkesh has invented 40 products, most of them currently in the process of patent approval.
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However, Harkesh's hardships escalated when his father succumbed to blood cancer in 2013. His father, a tailor who stitched tents and other materials, was the family's primary breadwinner. This was a significant financial setback for Kataria, forcing him to support himself through tutoring and selling the products he created. He lamented, "The government didn't assist me; I had to invest my own money into the inventions. I received help from a few responsible individuals and crowd-sourced support from a group within the Delhi Police. These inventions demand substantial financial resources."

Awards and Recognition: Harkesh's dedication and innovations have earned recognition from various government and non-government organizations, including the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Award for 2020-21 presented by the National Ambedkar Committee and recognition from the District Administration of Gurgaon, Government of Haryana. He has also been invited to participate in various programs and science exhibitions hosted by the Government of India.

Caste Discrimination

As a Dalit, Harkesh recounted an incident where he was initially invited for felicitation on the 15th of August but had his name removed once officials learned of his caste. This led to protests and ultimately the intervention of the SC/ST Commission, resulting in Harkesh later receiving the certificate personally. On another occasion, when he visited a government office regarding a scheme related to inventions, a government officer expressed prejudiced views, stating, "What will you people achieve through education?"

Despite these obstacles, Harkesh remains unwavering in his determination, drawing inspiration from Ambedkar's call to pursue education and fight for one's rights.

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