Success Stories

This 15-year old invented a garbage-collecting device to help clean his school

  • Nov 01 2018
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Highlights

  • Necessity is the mother of invention. Nothing better sums up the story of 15-year-old Mathura innovator Sikanto Mandal, who invented the Swachhta cart better.


Sikanto came up with the idea of creating a manual waste lifting and dumping device as an innovative alternative to not only help his friends clean up the school premises better, but also make the task at hand something they looked forward to, every day.

Born to daily wage laborers who migrated to Mathura from West Bengal 15 years ago, Sikanto’s father works two jobs. One at a book factory and another, driving around the town as a rickshaw driver, to make ends meet. While his ailing mother is at the mercy of the bed in their small rented home in Mathura, his older brother, 17-year-old Shivram, though in his first year BSc on paper, is often seen working long hours at the book factory than attending college to help the family’s finances.

Sikanto Mandal was a ninth grader when he conceptualized and designed his unique ‘swachhta cart’.Sikanto Mandal’s early morning duties at school were a little different from that of other children who indulge in prayer and lessons. At the Jai Gurudev Sanstha School in Mathura, which provides subsidized education to underprivileged children, Sikanto and his classmates first cleaned their school premises.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Nothing better sums up the story of 15-year-old Mathura innovator Sikanto Mandal, who invented the Swachhta cart better.

The real childhood challenge was, girls swept the ground and boys collected the garbage and then dumped it. I observed how many of my friends hesitated to touch and lift the garbage with their bare hands. This set me thinking and urged me to innovate something that would solve our garbage collection woes, says Sikanto.

Sikanto then pitched the initial idea to his school teachers who further encouraged him to apply for the Inspire Awards. “To my surprise, my entry was selected and a sum of Rs 5,000 was transferred to my account to build my garbage-collecting device,” Sikanto adds.

The 15-year-old then spent one and a half months to construct his first elementary model of the manual, mobile garbage-collecting device. Designed after lots of trial and error, the initial model was mostly built using wooden parts from old furniture, bicycle brakes, chains, and other waste materials.

When questioned how his innovation differs from other existing garbage carts, Sikanto enthusiastically explains: Convenience is the differentiator

All the other devices in the market are mechanical and are run either on battery or fuel. My cart is completely manual, lightweight, and easy to operate.

Sikanto’s mobile garbage-collecting device (for which he now holds the patent) comes with simple yet unique fittings — a picker that aids in collecting garbage without touching it, a gripper and a handle which upon operating helps in the easy dumping of the garbage without having to completely topple the cart.

I have also provided customized spaces in the cart where people collecting garbage can keep the broom, a water bottle and other waste materials they might pick on their way, adds the enterprising teenager.

These added special features make the cart ideal for use by municipal workers who toil hard to collect garbage in urban spaces such as parks, schools, etc.

He got Recognition and support after First exhibited at the district level of the Inspire Awards, Sikanto’s garbage-collecting model won several accolades and was also selected for display at the state and national level. “In 2016, I exhibited my model at the National level in Delhi as one among the three entries from Uttar Pradesh,” says Sikanto, whose innovation at the event was recognized and appreciated by the then Science and Technology Minister, and the National Innovation Foundation (NIF).

NIF then helped Sikanto build a proper prototype (made of metal) of his product and market it to potential enterprises. The technology behind the mobile waste-collecting device is now transferred to Sarjan Innovators Pvt Ltd, a Gujarat-based startup. "We are keen on beginning the mass production of this device soon", says Gaurav Acharya, an entrepreneur who has acquired patents for commercializing the cart. The Swachhta cart enables a very professional way of garbage collection with a certain ease of labor in reduced time, he adds.

Gaurav has supplemented the original model with a few more convenient modifications and has already piloted and checked the efficiency of the cart in the city of Patan in Northern Gujarat. Priced at Rs 10,500, the Swachhta cart will soon roll out into municipalities of other cities across India, promising to boost the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

This socially-relevant design was exhibited at the week-long Festival of Innovation 2017 held at Rashtrapati Bhavan in March last year. Sikanto was also the youngest innovator to participate in the recently concluded ‘Innovation Conclave’ conducted by NIF to celebrate and encourage grassroots innovators.

Hailing from a family of migrants who moved to Uttar Pradesh from Kodla village in West Bengal, Sikanto aspires to become an engineer who innovates hatke (unique) machines in future. Having fought poverty and difficult circumstances in life, Mathura’s young innovator also has big dreams for his family.

One day I hope I can help my family build our own house in Kodla. I also want to help my elder brother complete his BSc without having to fund it by working in the factory, Sikanto concludes.