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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 12pm

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#NOTMakingDo: Mahindra announces $1m prize for Indians to come up with technologies that already exist elsewhere

A billionaire Indian industrialist has offered $1 million for any Indian who can produce a suitable solution to two of India's most pressing issues - traffic stress and electricity shortages.

Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the giant Mahindra & Mahindra conglomerate, will announce the 'Rise Prize' during India's National Science Day on Friday 28 February.

The Prize will be given to individuals or companies that come up with innovative solutions, not only to overcome the many challenges faced by India's growing population but also as a way of showcasing India's competitiveness in science and technology.

Seventy percent of this year's total prize pot will be given anyone who can create a driverless car whilst the remainder will be awarded to innovators who can create a viable DIY solar kit that can be used for basic household energy needs.

Indian roads are infamous for the appalling congestion that blights commuters on a daily basis whilst theft and an inefficient generating system means that a reliable power source is difficult and expensive to obtain and maintain.

Mr Mahindra told the Times of India that the prize was a way to harness talent within India and in the Diaspora: "We have to set our own benchmark or metrics to value innovations which impact a part of our lives.  Our best minds are used to looking for recognition outside India. The objective is to trigger disruptive innovation in the country.

"The twin challenges have been selected on the basis of relevance to society, potential to create disproportionate impact, scalability and probability of causing a multiplier effect in allied areas," Mahindra said.

Intriguingly, driverless cars and DIY solar kits are two technologies which are at advanced stages elsewhere in the world.

Internet giant Google is leading the way in the United States to develop an unmanned car whilst remotely-operated public transport systems are currently in place in a number of European cities.

Several companies also currently make miniature solar power generating kits used by military personnel, emergency services as well as hikers and mountaineers.

India, long seen as a service provider rather than an innovator, has lagged behind in developing similar technologies despite Indian immigrants playing key roles in some of the world's most innovative companies, particularly in the United States.

"We hope this will ignite ecosystem building and change societal mindset.  This is going beyond 'Jugaad' or making do", Anand Mahindra added.

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