Creative Twins
Refaz Ahmad Wani and Ishfaq Ahmad Wani
Anantnag, Jammu & Kashmir

IGNITE 2011 - 2011

 What's the big idea?

Twins Refaz and Ishfaq have an amazing line-up of more than 36 'big ideas'. It includes a water bottle that holds different liquids at one time; a hoe that doubles up as a spade; an injection breaker in which broken glass pieces of the injection vial are safely deposited; an apple clipper-catcher that 'clips' or cuts apples that are caught in a net; and a geometric pen also fitted with a clock, torch, pencil and compass. Their inspiration comes either from problems faced themselves or by those around them.

Collapsible water bottle for storing different liquids

Standing in front of their house, they saw a little boy struggling with his water bottles on way to school. To beat the summer heat, he was carrying multiple bottles for different fluids. The twins came up with a remarkably simple solution: a single bottle with separate compartments for different fluids. What's more - once emptied, it collapses to become smaller!

Combined Hoe and Spade

They belong to an agricultural family. One day, they were out in the market to purchase a hoe and spade, which are farming tools. They needed both tools but had just enough money for one. In a fix, they innovated their way out of the problem by making a two-in-one tool that does the work of both. It has a handle to which either a hoe or spade can be attached. Although a similar tool exists in the market, theirs costs much less.

Innovative adults, creative kids

Growing up in the remote village of Wandewalgam some 80 kilometers from Srinagar, they had little access to the outside world. Their father worked as a labourer in Delhi. Money was short and barely enough for basic things

Refaz remembers an Id when they were about four years old: "Our father had come home for Id. We watched as other children played with their new toys. But we couldn't afford them. Our father saw that we were sad. Promising us better toys than anyone else's, he took us outside. He collected mud and showed us how to shape it into birds, people, cars and even snakes." This became their favourite past time and they spent countless hours making these mud figurines that are proudly displayed in the house even today

Many years back, a JCB machine was used for the first time in their village. The brothers were hooked by its bright yellow colour and decided to make one of their own. Working hard for three weeks, they got ready a wooden model that could be operated by one person. They were then in class 5 five

Twin Brothers Innovation Club

As more ideas came, they wanted a place where they could discuss, share and work without disturbance. But their home had no spare rooms. So they zeroed in on the unused storeroom on the roof. They got construction material from outside to put it back in shape. Unable to afford paint, the walls were covered with gift wrapping paper to brighten them up. And the 'Twin Brothers Innovation Club' was ready. It is populated with innovations in the making, awards won and sundry pieces of used wires and other equipment. The brothers come here to thrash out current ideas and work on new ones. All these ideas are duly noted down in their 'Book of Ideas', which already has more than 100 ideas.

Awards and Accolades

Receiving the IGNITE award from Dr. Kalam for the hoe and spade, water bottle and other innovations was like a "turning point," say the twins. Their achievement was covered by leading national and local media. Recently, they were featured in "Teenovation", a television series on young innovators. The brothers also received a prize from the President Pranab Mukherjee at NIF's 7th National Awards organised at Rashtrapati Bhavan in March 2013.

Recognition by outsiders has finally earned them respect of their neighbours and community. "Since childhood, friends and relatives made fun of us. They looked down on our efforts towards innovating as they could not understand what we were doing. Winning these awards and the media attention helps deal with the nay-sayers," they share

Just for Fun

Ask them what they do for fun and they reply in surprise, "What fun?" Like dedicated scientists, they don't like to spend time on trivial things. The only exception is for exercise which they get by walking through the forest near their home. But even this time is used to observe nature while strolling through the trees.

Dreams for the Future

The brothers' most cherished dream is to turn the Twin Brothers Innovation Club into a place where local kids can come to discuss ideas and conduct experiments. "We want to teach them how to look at a problem and to find a solution." they say

Of course, money is a big constraint. But they cheerfully manage with what they have and keep moving forward. "After all, we should not give up our dreams just because others do not see them," they share

Note The brothers won the IGNITE award as Class 10 students in 2011. While prototype of the bottle was made internally at NIF, an external agency was engaged to create a prototype of the hoe cum spade. NIF has also filed an application for a patent (3171/DEL/2011) in their name. In March 2013, they received a Consolation award at the 7th Biennial Awards for Grassroots Innovation and Outstanding Traditional Knowledge organised by NIF. The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, gave away the awards at a function held in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

A nonprofit organization has expressed interest in stocking a couple of finished products in a village shop and NIF is monetarily assisting the brothers to further improve the prototypes. The brothers have recently shifted to a good school in Jammu, thanks to the makers of the television program "Teenovation", who volunteered to bear the cost of their studies.

 Patent:- 3171/DEL/2011