Saturday, November 12, 2016

Shantanu Singhal a TedEx Speaker, Philanthropist, Humanist and an Entrepreneur

When the Nepal earthquake struck in April 2015, the destruction was so absolute that it was impossible for Shantanu to remain a passive witness. With the support of family and a knack for marketing, he began a social media campaign to request help. His team raised 1.6 million Indian Rupees (approx. $25,000) plus material donations, and he personally visited the worst affected areas to hand over the proceeds.
relief material for Nepal Earthquake victims by Shantanu
relief material for Nepal Earthquake victims by Shantanu Image Source: Shantanu

After reading about rising farmer suicides in India due to drought, Shantanu created UNNAT, a hydroponics project and experiment in soilless agriculture. One key outcome was the development of a simple kit which can be used to grow several essential crops such as fenugreek, cabbage and spinach. The state government of Uttar Pradesh noticed the potential of UNNAT, and selected the organization for a pilot study that began in August 2016.

The story behind Shantanu growing vegetables without soils goes like this:
Shantanu growing vegetables without soil
Shantanu growing vegetables without soil Image Source Shantanu

It was over a dinner conversation that Shantanu asked his father: “Why do we need soil?” The query arose in the young mind after experiencing rise in concern about shortage of food and space crunch in urban landscape. His question was pertinent and his impressions noteworthy. What he therefore turned to was Hydroponics – the process of growing plants without soil. But he improved on it, by creating a composition that was cheaper.

Before started developing his composition, the boy had researched well. He had read about Aeroponics – a plant-cultivation technique using air; but realised that the method is expensive. Shantanu therefore created a composition (comprising micro-nutrients, seeds and bio-pesticides among others) which not just acts as a substitute for soil but also cheap to procure.

A student of humanities in a Sanskrit School in Delhi, he says his father who works in the field of biotechnology, guided him in his research and experimentation. He experimented with growing veggies like fenugreek, spinach, coriander and tomato at home at first and his biotech father guided him well in understanding the cultivation process.
Shantanu Singhal a TedEx Speaker
Shantanu Singhal a TedEx Speaker

Shantanu also organizes school leadership events and talks, serves as a player and manager of his school’s football team, and works for his school’s Green Brigade Club, Interact Club and Business and Leadership Clubs. 

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