Biju Varghese, an innovator from Mukkoothuthara, Kerala has won the India Positive Award 2012 organised by CNN-IBN for his retrofitted car kit for the physically challenged. Varghese has been previously awarded a National award at the Fourth Biennial Award Function of the National Innovation Foundation.
The car kit can be attached as a unit onto cars. The system includes retrofitting brakes, an accelerator and clutch controls. These can be operated with a single hand. Physically challenged people who do not have one or both legs can use this car kit comfortably. The controls are transferred to the hand by the use of various levers while using the power transmission of the existing system. The system can be fitted onto any model of car for about Rs 4500. The system is easy to use and ergonomically designed.
When he was about twenty, an accident resulting in a spinal injury restricted Varghese’s lower limb movement. According to Varghese, the inspiration for the kit came when he was watching a TV program on National Geographic on Air Force One. There he realised that if an aircraft can be manoeuvred using only fingers, controlling a car should also be possible.
After interacting with many car mechanics he started experimenting to design the system and after making about five prototypes he settled onto the current version. He took this prototype for a successful test drive from Erumely to Mundakayam.
This invention has changed the way people look at him. Feelings of sympathy have been replaced by those of admiration and pride. His fight is not restricted to him anymore. He visits physically challenged people in his car in a mission to instill confidence in them. He has a strong network of physically challenged people whom he inspires towards achieving greater goals in life. He feels the innovation has given him a chance to expand his capabilities. He is grateful to his friends who stood by him during testing times and believes that he owes his success to their unwavering support.
After the appreciation received from the Honey Bee Network, he has gone on to receive many such accolades. In 2006, he won the Viklanga Sangam Award by a local handicap association. Over the years, he has received many inquiries from Kerala for the kit.
He is interested in licensing the technology to an entrepreneur or a company. He feels that he should license the technology, as with his physical condition, he may not be able to run an industry.