The Optimist Citizen

A man who made a ‘Cardboard Incubator’ to save infant’s lives in Rural India


Irrespective of financial backgrounds, the fun of childhood revolves around playing in the mud, jumping into a puddle splashing water around, building dream castles in the sand, and rolling on the soft grass. As the child grows, it tries to play with colors, mold objects out of dough, and give life to toys around. While a privileged child gets all the facilities and opportunities to grow, many unprivileged children in deep rural hinterlands, do not even survive till childhood. Reason, poor reach of healthcare, and lack of basic facilities for survival. India loses more than 3 lakh children, within 24 hours of their birth, every year. Because they do not get an Incubator.

Malav Sanghvi
Malav Sanghvi

While many underprivileged children have served privileged children over generations, not many privileged children have thought of doing anything for their underprivileged counterparts. Just like others, a fun loving privileged child Malav also did not know, what he would end up doing. Son of an artist mother and a Businessman father, Malav carried more ‘X’ than ‘Y’ chromosomes, showing his inclination towards arts at an early age. Fascinated by making science projects at school, he too would have also pursued engineering, had a friend not told him about the National Institute of Design. And this where he fell, his real education began. Right from developing perspectives, approach to problems, and more importantly to identify and characterise those problems; he learnt how to improve the user’s experience of product, how to improve user’s life from a functional point of view, and how to make the product cost-effective.

A course at NID exposed him to the area of design for special needs. Quickly grasping the extensive need, he started designing a walking stick for amputees and those in rehabilitation, as an alternative to the four-legged braces. While the development taught him that what matters most is the functionality and feasibility of a product with respect to the end user, his work got wide acknowledgement and appreciation. His interest and passion propelled him to work with Godrej for designing a stationary vaccine storage device for primary healthcare. The research took him across the rural India, to various primary healthcare centers, where he witnessed the plight of infants, not making it to the next day, because of the lack of an incubator. Here Malav realized the huge need of neonatal childcare equipment, that should be highly functional, and cost-effective too.

Searching various materials and their effectiveness, Malav Sanghavi chanced upon Finnish cardboard boxes, that are provided by the Government of Finland, as a basic provision for the family of a newborn, with the basic amenities required for next 6 months of child care. While the provisions are used for the child, the cardboard boxes act as a makeshift bed for the baby too. He combined this idea from the west with the requirement of the east, and thought of developing an incubator, with cardboard as the basic building material. But while the use of cardboard as a building material lowers the cost of production, in an effective incubator the essential warmth and humidity must be ensured, and humidity is a natural predator of cardboard. Malav tackled this by improvising on the idea of paper-coating present in the Finnish cardboard boxes, and testing material varnish on the cardboard for immunity against humidity.

Malav Sanghvi with his Baby Life Box Incubator
Malav Sanghvi with his Baby Life Box Incubator

Aptly named as the BABY LIFE BOX, Malav’s idea got recognition, achieving third position at the prestigious Pitch@palace competition, at St James’s Palace London. Malav is presently talking to investors and developing a business plan for further funding to ensure that the life box goes forward, and scales up to help the masses. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little”.

BABY LIFE BOX is a true example of this belief, intent, and design.


Story by : Piyuli Ghosh   |   Compiled by : Nikhil Sharma

The Optimist Citizen is India’s First Purely Positive Newspaper (in print). Subscribe to The Optimist Citizen Newspaper starting at just Rs. 350 per year.

Help us sustain and spread Positive Journalism!

[button style=’red’ url=’’ target=’_blank’ arrow=’true’]SUBSCRIBE NOW[/button] [/infobox]

Add comment

Help us Sustain and Survive Constructive Solutions Journalism. Support The Optimist Citizen.

Support Us

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.