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8.10.14

Ravi Kuchimanchi  & Aravinda : The couple who inspired the movie Swades(2004)  & Chigurida Kanasu.

Ravi was a Physics graduate student at the university of Maryland when he and some of his friends founded AID(Association of India's Development) in 1991 with the vision that " If problems are interconnected , so must be the solutions" .  He  wanted to make a channel that relate US based indian community (both students and professionals) to the problems of Rural India.  In AID people can contribute through knowledge input, participation , fund raising etc. 
In 1998 , after his post doctoral work on theoretical particle physics  he came back to india with his wife Aravinda and totally focused on the development issues in India such as dams versus people and environment, rural electrification and integrated development. Working in 30 villages of Srikakulam Distrct, Andhra Pradesh, It became clear to Ravi that a poor laborer earning less than a dollar a day lived in darkness, not because s/he can't afford the energy bill, but because they can't afford to pay a large bribe of a months wage, to get the connection. In fact the kerosene for oil-lamps that poor use, is more expensive than electricity that could light their home. Such insights helped AID in the US, that raises $1 Million annually and mobilizes nearly a thousand volunteers, extend its support to tackle root causes such as corruption and exploitation rather than just treat the symptoms of poverty. 

Pedal Power : In 1999-2000 with his collaborators Ravi and  Aravinda developed the pedal power generator to light remote, off-the-grid village schools where students take turns to pedal. Demand for alternate energy in the Narmada river valley in western India, where there is an ongoing struggle against large dams such as the Sardar Sarovar, led Ravi and Aravinda to forge a collaboration between AID and grassroots groups, that electrified 12 hamlets of the tribal village Bilgaon. 

Pedal Power and Bilgaon Micro-Hydro project  have inspired the Bollywood film Swades (2005) that became a symbol for Non-Resident Indians interested in India's development. 

HAYBOX/EASY COOKER : Passionately interested in pursuing appropriate technology to benefit the underpriveleged, Ravi with his colleagues recently adapted the traditional haybox for Indian villages. The underlying principle is simple : Hay is an insulating material and can be used to trap thermal energy, Half cooked rice when kept inside the haybox and closed , within 20 minutes the rice is fully cooked due to its own heat . The "Easy Cooker" that is both made and sold in Indian villages, conserves about 50% energy, saves time and creates livelihoods for bamboo artisans and women's groups. It saves about 0.5 Kg in carbon-di-oxide emmissions per use compared to electric rice cooker. With 600 million rice-eaters in India and billions around the world, and priced locally at Rs 130 in villages, it is not only a green technology but is affordable by hard-working rural people who earn $1-2 a day.

Aravinda Pillalmarri is devoted to the cause of social justice.  Raising awareness on fair trade and sustainable livelihoods, she works with tailors designing and marketing khadi (handspun) garments with a view to sustaining traditional living in modern times. Recognizing the role of natural birth, breastfeeding, babywearing, sleepsharing, natural hygiene and free learning in promoting maternal and child health and empowerment, she works with parents and teachers in better understanding the value of these practices, how they are already in use, and how they are threatened and resources required to sustain them. In this context she also envisions programs that help people take control of their learning, food security, and health, such as village libraries, kitchen gardens, whole foods, and accountability in government services to mothers and children. She also serves on AID Publications Team, working to ensure that people who are marginalised by poverty, oppression or disasters appear as central and active driving forces for change rather than as victims or targets. Through this AID newsletters, calendars and ocassional publications help urban middle class people to understand the perspectives and analyses voiced by the people central to the processes of social change, who are too often marginaised from prevailaing development planning owing to poverty and oppression. 

AID works on almost all issues Energy, Agriculture, Education , Health , Women Empowerment , Land, corruption , livelihoods etc.  and have chapters through out world and in all states of India. 

Apart from all this . Ravi is passionate about theoretical physics and He has published several papers in international physics journals.His continuing interest and work in physics include the Strong CP Problem, hierarchy problem, leptonic CP violation and left-right symmetric theories. His physics papers are available by clicking here  

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