Dr Abhay Jere
Everyone knows ‘Rancho’, the protagonist from the classic 3 Idiots. Rancho epitomises out-of-the-box thinking, creativity and positivity by challenging the routine discourse of life. In 3 Idiots, the world watched Rancho (Aamir Khan) and his lady love ride a unique scooter fitted with a flour mill. The movie is full of such small innovations by Rancho but very few know about the real brain behind these simple yet great machines ……. the ‘real life Rancho’.
The real life Rancho is Sheikh Jahangir Sheikh from Jalgaon, now 52-year-old and a car painter by profession has shown immense ability to innovate since his childhood. As Jalgaon faced huge electricity crises, Jahangir first designed scooter powered spray-painting unit about 25 years back to sustain his business. Initially, he developed a compressor on a Luna (a moped) but as it did not work properly due to Luna’s low engine power, he experimented with scooter to build mobile spray painting device to get work done faster and easier. Jahangir spent about Rs. 4,000-5,000 for buying second-hand scooter and modified it into spray painting devices.
Although, a school dropout, Jahangir considers life as his biggest teacher and firmly believes that mother is the necessity of all inventions. While the reel life Rancho had everything at his disposal, Jahangir supports family of 9 members and lives in a rented ‘one room’ accommodation.
Despite his poverty and problems, Jahangir enjoys toying with new ideas and doesn’t stop experimenting. Initially, people around him used to call him a ‘mad man’ but today, much to their surprise his innovations have been appreciated by the high and mighty including President of India.
Jahangir is full of pride to see his scooter in 3 Idiots. Now, he has converted multiple second-hand scooters into super machines like portable front loading washing machines that even saves water, a generator which can power tube-light, TV and fan, automated sugarcane juice making unit, etc. His scooter-powered flour mill is a big hit and of immense help to poor who can only afford to buy grains in very small quantities. Jahangir has even modified bicycles to charge mobiles, run mixer, play FM radio, etc.
National Innovation Foundation (NIF) which works for promoting grass-root innovations has also appreciated work done by Jahangir and because of NIF’s efforts, Jahangir’s innovations were exhibited on multiple platforms including at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Former Presidents of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil have personally appreciated Jahangir’s work.
Jahangir says “I wish to develop machines that will help people in solving problems. Giving back to society is the most satisfying experience and I want to work to make the nation proud. Whatever I have learnt, I try giving it back.”
In 2011, while Jahangir was going through a lean patch in his life due to health reasons, he thought on the concept of innovation school and started his Masti ki pathshala’ under Jahangir Foundation initially on pavement due to lack of facility and infrastructure. This year, he renamed his school as ‘Rancho Innovation School’ and shifted to a free space allotted by Mr. Hemant Patil.
The primary objective of ‘Rancho Innovation School’ is to promote creative and out-of the box thinking amongst young students. Jahangir is also keen on imparting practical skills to students that will make them employable. This school is almost free and the enrolled students are only expected to pay Rs. 10 for the entire year. Currently, the school has about 400 students. Jahangir says “Students come to my school to gain practical knowledge and majority of them are from very poor economic background. There is no qualification and economical background bar for taking admission.”
Jahangir is very keen on promoting practical education especially amongst kids from slums that will make them employable.
Another key feature of his school is that Jahangir organises ‘idea competition’ every alternate day. Jahangir adds “till date students have submitted more than 900 unique ideas which highlight their zeal, creativity and ability to think out-of-the-box”. Now Jahangir dreams of taking this ‘idea competition’ to every nook and corner of Maharashtra to create an idea bank.