Ratna Shukla Anand/New Delhi
Prerna Wadikar from Bengaluru was recently awarded the Vice Chancellor's Social Impact Award 2021 at Oxford University in recognition of her efforts to make portable energy affordable and user friendly.
The model using lithium-ion batteries developed by Wadikar weighs less than 500 grams and it can generate electricity to power a small refrigerator.
The Vice Chancellor's Social Impact Award is given to the staff or students for their outstanding contribution to the social sector. Prerna Wadikar has secured the first position among 300 student contenders for the award for this year.
Prerna Wadikar’s name will now figure in the prestigious list that also has legends from India like APJ Abdul Kalam, Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr Manmohan Singh.
But Prerna got admission after clearing one of the most intricate processes in this prestigious university and under the fully-funded management course under the Oxford-Weidenfeld and Hoffman scholarship and Leadership Program (scholarship).
Prerna is an entrepreneur of Jiva Global Company and she has developed such portable battery based on solar energy which is a significant step towards providing employment in small and medium scale industries.
After pursuing her engineering in Information Technology from Mumbai, Prerna did her master's degree in Public Policy from IIM Bangalore. She worked for many multinational companies and government organizations. During this time, Prerna did a lot of work in the field of green energy.
She had realized the need of a developing nation like India, especially the underprivileged sections of its population and small entrepreneurs. When she saw the problem of employment during Kovid, she felt that she could create such a technological model that would be effective in boosting small and medium industries that employs the largest number of Indians.
Prerna had created a solar-powered portable battery that charges in 1 hour for the use of cycle rickshaw pullers and those earning a living through hand carts. The battery can run three devices simultaneously.
Prerna says the livelihood of about 1 crore people in India is based on handcarts and her battery will make a big difference to their lives.
Actually, new technology is discovered to improve business management, in which technology and management people have the main role, but to prepare a better model, it is necessary to have a sense of social welfare where helping the poor section isthe first. There should be a purpose. According to Prerna, the pace of economic development can be accelerated through technology and she is making efforts in this direction.
Following the ancient Indian philosophy of Vasudeva Kutumbhakam, for Prerna, the whole world is one family. Therefore she believes in using her skills and knowledge to improve the living standards of people in African countries as well.
Apart from health and nutrition, Prerna has combined technology and management for prevention of human trafficking, for skill development, circular economy that is a model of multiple uses of resources and promotion of small industries. Prerna is also a Lock Capital Fellow.
Prerna says that whenever she used to complain about something in her childhood, her mother Neena Mahajan used to tell her that "complaining doesn't work, you can't find the solution yourself" and this mother's rebuke made her a troubleshooter.
Prerna has spent most of her life in human service. From the ashram of famous social worker Baba Amte to Sindhu Tai, Dr Sunita Krishnan and Sai Baba Trust, Prerna has served people since her student days. She has also donated a part of her scholarship to a Trust in Hyderabad.