Innovation is the key to sustained economic growth. That’s a statement that most people will accept. But, innovation is often seen as a result of what happens in laboratories and on the shop floor. There is a variant that does not often get its due—smart stuff that is done in garages, farms and workshops.
It is this type of barefoot innovation that gave the world the Jaipur foot, an artificial limb that changed the lives of millions. It is a great example of smart technology that is low-cost and relevant.
P.K. Sethi, the surgeon, barefoot innovator and the man behind the Jaipur foot, died on Sunday morning. The foot he created along with a Rajasthani artisan named Ram Chandra has been fitted on amputated legs since 1968. They never patented their design, on principle. Dancer-actor Sudha Chandran is one of its most well-known users.
India needs to follow in Sethi’s footsteps, and create an ecosystem that nurtures barefoot innovation.