Generally speaking, the Internet provides entertainment and information. A man from Tripura, Salil Krishana Debbarma (45) may have initially begun to watch Youtube for entertainment but he soon veered towards information. During the second phase of statewide lockdown, around the month of June-July, he used the time to watch tutorials and make his own personal battery-operated three-wheeler bike. Today, he uses the bike to roam around his village to the amazement of the villagers.
The bike looks rickety but Salil is proud to have made a vehicle with his own two hands. He says he loved to watch videos while sitting at home. One day he got the idea that he should learn some skills as well. That is when he started watching tutorials on how to build a bike from scratch.
Salil Krishna Debbarma is a resident of Khumulwng’s Dasharam Boitra village. Born to a farmer's family, Salil could not complete his graduation. However, he loved to learn and teach. Before the Coronavirus pandemic began, he was a tuition teacher who taught the children of nearby schools. In addition, he also worked as a cab driver. This is how he took care of his family consisting of a wife and two sons. Salil’s income was severely hit by the pandemic. He lost his job as a driver, and his students also went back to their respective villages. “During that phase, I did not know what to do so I started watching videos to pass my time. After some time I got the idea of making something with my own hands so I made a bike,” he says.
Salil got most of his materials from scrap dealers. His biggest purchase was the engine which cost Rs. 13,000. The rest of the items, such as tires, handles, seat, etc. was bought second hand. The entire bike was built at a cost of Rs. 25,000. He has just finished making a second prototype.
“Considering that the price of petrol is rising, I decided to run the bike on battery. Also while the first bike took time, the second one took just one week to make,” says Salil. He adds that many of his friends are requesting him to make bikes for them.
Salil says that since childhood he liked experimenting with metal scraps and making useful things with them. He used to make photo frames and small toys. “That time no one knew me but after I made my bike everyone came to know that I am interested in such activities,” he says. Salil adds that he wants young Tripuris to stay away from bad habits and use their educational opportunities to follow their dreams. The state still lags behind in terms of trade and manufacturing which only the youth can help fill up the gap.
This article has been created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.