At 67, Lekhraj Dewan of Mangerjung, Nagari Tea Estate has more energy than most of us would have at 17. He is a social worker with an extraordinary sharp mind. An innovator whose hands-on approach to problem serving has made life easier for many.
This is his story.
Born into a family of nine members Lekhraj was a very shy and yet a curious child. He studied at St. Roberts School back in 1975. Sadly he could only study till class 6. However, he had a deeper understanding of science, and how it affected the daily lives of people. Being a very curious child, he was constantly in search of answers and to understand the mechanics of machines. He was very good in craft and often made toys of his own. Bearing very little academic knowledge, he used to frequently run into complications with his machines. However, he had the mindset of a winner, leading him to overcome all of his problems.
His enthusiasm started with the TV antenna, which would later encourage him to invent many other devices of his own. Driven and motivated, he used his sharp mind to solve everyday problems. For instance, when his mother couldn’t grind the wheat grains to make wheat flour, he decided to invent a machine that could do so. Using Rangbhang River as the source of energy, he made use of simple principles of physics, and used a propeller run by river water to make a grinding machine. He did this without any external knowledge or inputs. Remember, this was a time when there was no internet, and no tutorial videos.
Personally Lekhraj considers a thread making machine, as his greatest innovation. To make his dream machine he used any and all available materials that he could lay his hands on – from bamboo, to wooden planks to rubber sole of slippers, everything he found he used it to build his machine. Today this machine is churning the finest wool in Darjeeling region. The raw material for the wool comes from Angora rabbits, which is then mixed with sheep wool. When the raw materials (furs) are loaded into the machine, it combines them and gives out the finest quality of woolen thread.
He has his dream of making woolen textile industry flourish in the hills of Darjeeling. He is willing and more than happy to train and educate anyone who is willing and curious to learn the process of his invention.
He sees a potential in his work and firmly believes that it could help the society in many different ways.
Across these beautiful hills of ours, we have people with extraordinary talents, and stories. We request our readers to kindly inform us about them, so that we can feature them, and highlight their work.
We are collaborating with Mr. Aditya Rai to bring forth this series. Aditya Rai a self-taught videographer, with a degree in English Honours, is a writer, a poet, a visual artist who has made it his mission to tell us the stories of extraordinary people who live among us. You can see more of his work at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxWIM-pmffEhiXgAMPBIG1Q
Credits: Avishek Gurung
Narration: Parag Rai