Meet Abhijit Dowarah, the Assam innovator building homes for stray dogs with discarded TV sets

Meet Abhijit Dowarah, the Assam innovator building homes for stray dogs with discarded TV sets

abhijit dowarah abhijit dowarah

Abhijit Dowarah, a 32-year-old youth from Assam's Sivasagar district, recently entered the national limelight after TV sets that he converted into colorful dog homes became viral on social media. Now Dowarah, an innovator by heart, is reaching out to people across Assam to help him continue the movement that he kickstarted by constructing homes in a similar fashion for stray dogs.

Abhijit Dowarah did his graduation in Arts from the Vir Lachit Borphukan College in the year 2009. However, he have always fancied myself as an innovator and have been building things for as long as I remember.

Abhijit Dowarah setting up a shelter

The innovator, who calls these houses 'Baator Ghor' (Street Home), shared his entire journey with Inside Northeast during a tell-tale interview. Here are some excerpts:

So far, people know you for your exploits in building the homes for dogs. But a lot many people do not know about your journey. Can you tell us about your journey?

My concept of TV sets as homes for strays -- which I call Baator Ghor (Street Home) is something that is now gaining steam. I am now urging everyone to use old TV sets and convert them into dog homes as I have done. They can upload a picture of their own street home for dogs and use the hashtag 'Baator Ghor' (#BaatorGhor) to get this movement going. One step can go a long way in making a difference.

As for me, I come from an economically poor background. My father passed away when I was in Class 3 and times were rough as my mother was working as a teacher in a private school from which she earned Rs. 200.

From a very young age, I enjoyed watching movies. However, I did not have money to buy a radio or a television. I bought a radio for Rs. 160 when I was in Class 3, with my savings. However, the radio stopped working after a few months. I could not afford to take it to a mechanic, so I tried fiddling with it with a spoon. Miraculously, it worked, and the radio was repaired. Ever since then, I have been fascinated by these gadgets.

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Can you tell us about your fondness for television sets? How did you become an innovator?

I bought my very first television set in 2001. It was an old second-hand black-and-white set that I purchased for Rs. 700. My next acquisition was a CD player which I bought for Rs. 1,500 in 2002, when I was in Class 8. However, I had to take it to a mechanic every month as it was second-hand one and had several issues.

Once, the mechanic saw me opening the TV set and asked me how I was able to do it at such a young age. I told him that I tinker with these things and was quite familiar with the workings. Impressed, he agreed to teach me how to repair TV sets and CD sets. I started going to his shop each day after school, and he would pay me Rs. 5.

Thus, my journey began and I tried creating things with my own hands. Around 2016, I entered the public limelight after some of my innovations came to light. I have made numerous devices -- such as a tool for watering plants. Prior to that, I had no idea that I was doing something unique, different, or useful. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I made a cycle that would spray sanitizers. So you see, I have been keeping myself busy.

How did you come upon this idea? That TV sets can be made into homes for dogs? How did the innovator in you turn into an animal rights activist?

3-4 years back, while I was riding pillion on a bike, a dog got stuck underneath the bike, causing us both to fall down. That naturally angered me. One more or so after the incident, my brother brought a small dog on my birthday -- as a gift. Initially, I did not have much fondness for dogs. But after getting one of my own, I started developing a fondness for the animals. I started seeing the plight of these animals.

Abhijit Dowarah building a shelter

My journeys across Sivasagar revealed that these dogs lived in a miserable condition. Many had been hit by speeding vehicles. It was then that I decided to convert the TV sets that I had hoarded into street dog homes. So far, I have installed 5 of these -- colored in either yellow or green -- across Sivasagar. We have also put warm clothes in these street dog homes. To draw them in, we placed clothes that had been slept on by other dogs -- so that they would be attracted by the smell.

Why do you think the dog houses made of TVs has been such a popular concept?

I think it is because this is a new concept and has not been seen anywhere in the world. I have been collecting old TV sets that people threw out amid the LCD/LED craze.

I was thinking of what to do with these sets when I came upon the idea that they could be used as dog shelters -- entirely by accident.

So what comes next for this project? Are you going to continue?

This Sunday, we are installing 10-12 more such homes across the town, which are being readied at the moment. More people are now joining in. Some of my friends are now helping me feed the dogs. On Wednesdays and Sundays, we feed meat and rice to the strays on the streets -- last Wednesday, we fed as many as 36 strays. Veterinary doctors are also reaching out and have promised to provide their expertise.

Hopefully, this project will continue for a while and we will be able to help more dogs find a home on the streets.

Story by: Rana Pratap Saikia

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Edited By: Admin
Published On: Dec 18, 2020