Since the dawn of civilization, humans have been using clay for cooking and preserving food for a long time. However, in today’s fast-paced society, traditional clay cookware has mostly been replaced by metallic cookware, which has the advantage of durability and features like non-stick coating. Mr. Mansukhbhai Prajapati, a smalltown boy born to a potter family in Nichimandal village, Rajkot, who once, due to precarious financial condition at home, used to do odd jobs like selling tea in a small dusty town of Wakener, is now enlisted as a groundbreaker due to his creation of ‘Mitticool’, the environment-friendly refrigeration.
“When we lose in life, we react in two ways, either by losing hope or falling into self-destructive habits or by using the challenge to find our inner strength’ – The Dalai Lama.
The quote manifests itself in the story of Mr. Prajapati. In the year 1988, when Mansukhbhai realized that he greatly wanted to follow his dreams, he quit his job. He took a loan of Rs 30,000 to start his own earthen plate manufacturing factory. He modified roof tile to make a hand press machine with the capacity of producing 700 earthen pans per day. He sold per clay pan for 0.65 paise, and in two days, his whole stock was sold. Further, he personally took people’s opinions on his pans and learned that they were not happy with the durability of the structure. He worked tirelessly as a one-man in his factory to modify the structure and induce durability and heat resistance capacity of the tawas according to customer requirements. During the 2001 earthquake, his business suffered a huge loss due to stock decimation. At that time, a headline from the Gujarati daily caught his attention. “Garib ka fridge toot gaya” (Translation- The fridge of the poor has broken). He realized that access to clean, cold water though is a right for all but was enjoyed by few. Mansukhbhai then aimed to create an environment and economically friendly refrigerator for people living in rural areas and for the ]below-poverty level groups of urban areas.
With the aid of GIAN (Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network), a think-tank cell for imaginative rural India, he moved his venture ahead. GIAN assisted with the development, positioning, and marketing of the brand and also helped him to set up his own company, Clay Creations, in the year 2008. They also enlisted the assistance of the National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad) for testing and polishing the clay refrigerator ‘Mitticool,’ as its name suggests, is constructed of clay. There is no artificial energy or electricity needed to run this network rather, it is just mechanized with the properties of clay to function. He has been successful in selling one lakh clay tawas, 5,000 Mitticool freezers, and 500 clay cookers. Honorable President Pratibha Patel presented him with a certificate and the prestigious NIF award.
Manuskhbhai is a man on a mission! Following the creation of a clay refrigerator, he is improvising to create small “Minute Mitticools” that can cool water in 5 or 2 minutes, respectively. Also, his innovation of non-stick clay tawas, which was tested by Institute of Chemical Technology well, affirms the fact that he is one of the million changemakers the nation is desperately looking for. His innovation has influenced the state government of Gujrat to promote indigenous long-lost culture in the state.