“I think the largest pitfall is that you often think that if you have built something and have it sitting in front of you, people online would like it and you immediately have a product for sale. Building the prototype of a singular unique item is not necessarily the same as designing a product for mass market, nor does having an audience mean that people will pay the actual cost of production once the product hits the market,” explains Sarafan.

Kuber adds, “India has a very brilliant DIY community. But Indians have to nurture their documenting and publicity talents. A small desktop experiment, if video-documented well and uploaded to the correct social media with correct tutorial instructions, would be a great gift to the spirit of open source.”

DIY in India
“India has a long tradition of ingenuity and a strong technical base. The DIY/maker ethic is tremendously strong here. We consistently see new and exciting projects from India,” says Denmead.

Sarafan says, “Having never been to India, my observation of the DIY community in India can only be based on what I observe on Instructables. However, that said, it seems to be pretty vibrant. We run hundreds of contests on our site every year for DIY projects, and India ranks within the top 10 countries throughout the world in terms of the number of winners. I’m also impressed by the number of children from India who regularly contact me for help in their electronics projects. There seems to be a thriving DIY scene, especially amongst younger people.”

That said, the people actually getting their hands dirty have mixed views on the Indian DIY ecosystem. “DIY has never been big in India,” moans Kashinath. “Not all schools can boast of a ‘workshop’ where students can get their hands dirty working with metal, wood, electronics, etc. There is no famous hobby shop that promotes DIY either. As a result, it just isn’t something that kids are exposed to. Some TV channels and schools today are leading the effort in this, which is heartening to see. I was lucky to have a workshop in my school, and I do believe that it contributed significantly to my present-day interest in this area. That said, it is promising to see how things are evolving here. Information and ideas are accessible globally, hardware and prototyping costs are reducing, local communities are forming and the momentum is increasing.”

The author is a technically-qualified freelance writer, editor and hands-on mom based in Chennai


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