Biostandups: How do you define yourself?
Manoj: Simple, honest and believe in myself, caring and supportive for others, has a dream to contribute something for my country and I wish the world will recognise me with my work not by name.
Biostandups: Please tell us about your education?
Manoj: I started my early education from a government school of my own village and completed my secondary education from CIC, Karwi, Chitracoot. I have completed my graduation from NIT Jamshedpur and post-graduation from Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR). I had a good exposure of science and research activities during my post-graduation under the guidance of Dr. Pawan Kapur and Dr. C Ghanshyam at AcSIR-CSIO, Chandigarh, which has strengthened my passion towards technological innovations. My interest towards agri-instrumentation and electrostatic processes applied to agriculture got further strengthened during my PhD work under the guidance of Dr. Manoj K Nayak, where I studied electro-hydrodynamics and aerodynamics of charged particulate matter. As a graduate student, I developed specific interest to basics and minute details of electronics, instrumentation and technological aspects applied to agriculture.
Biostandups: Why did you choose this profession/field?
Manoj: There are numerous reasons for choosing this profession/field. First, I have a great respect and regard for the word ‘scientist’ and ‘professor’ from the early days of my study. In childhood days, I used to be excited when someone says he/she is a scientist or professor. In this way, I wanted to choose this profession from the beginning only. As I remember, in the year of completion of my graduation, I appeared for the interviews of ISRO as well as of CSIR on July 3, 2010 and July 10, 2010. I was selected for CSIR but could not make it for ISRO. Second, I belong to a family whose first profession is agriculture and farming. I have seen the pain and difficulties very closely, the farmers face. There is a huge gap between the work scientific institutions/communities are doing and what the farmers and farming industry need. There is a need to provide the solution for agricultural and societal applications through technological interventions. There are many unexplored areas to be explored in agricultural developments. In lighter mood, let me define my profession in this way “to fall in love with research was my interest, but to live with it is my choice.”
Biostandups: Can you give some insight about your passion for science and future goals?
Manoj: My passion for science and technological innovations was developed through the motivation of my father, who was a hard working farmer, and the patience and faith of my mother, who is a homemaker. My brother always promoted me for my creativity and new ideas that lie within me during the early days of my study and that is well reflected in taking up scientific research as my professional career. My parents and family members always gave us the freedom and liberty to explore and decide on our career path. In other words you can say “science is my passion and a way to live the life, it is not only work for me.”
As a project leader along with my team are working in the area of advanced agri-instrumentation especially electrostatic processes applied to agricultural and societal applications, looking more towards technological solutions for farming and societal industry. Technological interventions and automation & mechanization in agriculture may surely boost the productivity that could be used for sustainable food production in the context of increasing demand of nutritional and healthy food for billions of hungry tummies and also to promote food security. We have extended the electrostatic spraying technique for various applications such as electrostatic dust suppression and environment protection, edible coatings to perishable foods and fruits based on electrostatic spraying.
Biostandups: You have been appointed as Ambassador and Partner for Innovation Development by SRISTI. How do you feel about it and what are your responsibilities?
Manoj: It is a kind of voluntary work and responsibility given by SRISTI and Techpedia, since; I have received the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI-2016) Award 2016 at Rastrapati Bhawan this year. SRISTI and Techpedia work in co-ordination with National Innovation Foundation (NIF) to promote the grass roots innovations. NIF is a member of Department of Science and Technology. I feel good and honoured to be a part of SRISTI, however at the same time; it gives a lot of responsibilities to live up to the expectations. In this regard, I have to make students, professors of research institutions and universities aware about the GYTI Award by promoting, arranging the seminars and talks at different forums and also by sharing through social media. Nowadays, social media plays an important role in dissemination of knowledge.
Biostandups: What are one or two of your proudest personal / professional accomplishments?
Manoj: I will put my answer to this question in different perspectives. As I told you, I belong to a family whose profession is agriculture. To take birth in a poor family and to become a scientist was also a kind of proudest accomplishment or you can say happiest moments for me. It has given a smile to my parents, though they do not know much about science and my work, but I can feel the happiness and joy they have.
The second achievement which is totally professional was to get the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Award 2016 at Rastrapati Bhawan that too from my inspiration Prof. R A Mashelkar. I was happy and elated to win the GYTI Award 2016 as it always feels great when a scientist’s idea gets appreciated. It, further, gave me a sense of professional achievement as I received the award in the early age of my career. Moreover, NIF provides an excellent platform to grass root innovators, young researchers, scholars, students and scientists to explore the innovative ideas. SRISTI and Techpedia give a reasonable research grant under the different categories to execute your innovation into reality. GYTI award and other awards, I received also gives me a sense of responsibility to live up to the expectations conferred on me through this.
Biostandups: People with physical abilities complain lot and achieve less. Was your disability ever bothered you?
Manoj: As such no comments on first part of your question. However, in my personal opinion, complaining is not a solution of the problem. Go through the problem and try to solve it, get involve in the system about which you are complaining. Once you find a solution, you will never complain. Try to be a part of the solution, not a problem.
Truly speaking, I never think that I am differently abled. I took this as a blessing of God; I can devote more time to my work rather spending time here and there. I can do everything that I wish to do. I went to different places for my studies, stayed alone in Hostels, PGs, infact in my schooling days, I cooked my food also and this became among my hobbies. I like travelling, adventurous rides, visiting different places and having good friends. I did my graduation from NIT Jamshedpur, post-graduation from Academy of Scientific Innovative Research (AcSIR) Chandigarh and about to finish my PhD too. I use to attend meetings, conferences, lectures etc. at different places and it never bothered. It’s all about passion and dedication about you wish to do and achieve. In one line you can define it as “Ye Housale Ki Udaan Hai.”
Biostandups: What do you think are your greatest strengths as Scientist? In which areas do you feel you can use some further development?
Manoj: My greatest strength is my self-confidence, sincerity and hard work. In this learning process my parents and family played a very key role. They taught me that one should not leave a work just because obstacles/hardships are coming, don’t give-up. I am also a very self-motivated person.
I wish to continue my work in the area of grass roots innovations and developments for societal applications especially in agricultural instrumentation. Technological interventions in agricultural and societal applications are need of the hour especially for Indian farming and rural developing economies. Automation and mechanization in agriculture to enhance the productivity is another aspect that has to be given the priority.