His bedridden wife and the difficulties she faced while going to the toilet prompted, a welding mechanic, Nagercoil-based Saravana Muthu, to come up with a cot specifically designed for bedridden people. Beneficial for both patients and people with disabilities, the remote operated cot won him an award from the National Innovation Foundation. He was given a citation and prize money of ₹3 lakh
Talking to The Federal, Muthu, who has completed schooling till class three, says that the innovation is a combination of his spirit of enquiry that prompted him to put his talent to creative use and his personal experience. “It was an arduous task for me and my wife’s mother to help her go to the toilet for almost two months. I began wondering about the plight of people who have to go through this for ever.”
Prodded by his wife, who otherwise was always critical of his constant trysts with welding, Muthu began working on the cot design. The cot is made of iron and comes with a toilet seat that can be connected to a flush tank and can be connected with a septic tank. It comes with a remote that can be operated by a patient—who can use it to open the shutter in the bed for the toilet seat and flush it. It is operated with a 12 V battery.
He adds, “I came up with the prototype in 2015, but couldn’t continue working on it due to lack of funds. A neighbour wrote about it in a newspaper and I got an enquiry from someone in Thiruvallur. He wanted to buy it for his mother, who was lodged in a home as she was completely bedridden and they couldn’t manage to take care of her.”
The Eureka moment to mass production
After he made the cot for him and the product turned out to be satisfactory, he was faced with another challenge — how to make more. “That’s when former president APJ Abdul Kalam suggested that I applied at the foundation.”
After three years of careful scrutiny, the Foundation finally awarded him last month at the National Grassroots Innovation and Outstanding Traditional Knowledge award function. He received the award from President Ram Nath Kovind. “The Foundation took its own time to see the work and carefully vetted the design and concept before awarding me,” he says.
Now, he has received enquiries and orders from over 600 people. “It takes me at least a month and a half to make one cot. I have priced it around ₹60,000 to 70,000 at the moment but when we mass produce it will come down. For meeting the demands, I am looking at starting a factory. But that needs an investment of at least ₹6 crore,” he says, adding that he would need a lot of support from the government.
However, Muthu is not just focusing on making the orders, but also on catering to the needs of the entire population which requires the bed. He adds, “There are over three crore people who are bedridden and even seek euthanasia, as they feel they are becoming a burden on their caregivers.”
Muthu also hopes to be an inspiration for many like him who are not educated but have the fire in them to make a difference. “I was doing projects for school children even as I was working in the workshop. Such inspirations to do something for the greater good are not easy to come by,” he signs off.