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Profile :

Name : Neetalla Mittu, 39/1, Mariappa Konar Street, Sharada Mill Road, Opposite to Arasan Theater, Podanur, Coimbatore- 641023
Date of Birth : 02.05.1952
Attributes : Innovator of shoulder Harness
E-Mail :

Words pour out torrentially from Mittu’s mouth. He speaks fast and passionately about his many innovations. The best recognized has been the shoulder harness which eases the burden of carrying weights, shifting the weight to sturdier shoulders.

India, despite its boasts of technological advancement and burgeoning infrastructure, still thrives on manual labour. The strenuous nature of manual labour is telling in the number of ailments suffered by those at the bottom of the social pyramid. Spondylitis, arthritis and varicose veins are just some of the most painful and chronic ailments which can result from manual labour practices without proper precaustions.

In south India, vegetable vendors carrying a basket loaded with neatly arranged vegetables are a common sight. A huge basket laden with fresh produce rests on their heads as they walk in the streets calling out for our attention.

“For a few weeks, we did not see our vegetable vendor and we wondered what happened to her,” says Mittu. Upon further investigation, the family found out that the vegetable vendor suffered from spondylitis.

This was the result of the heavy loads she lifted on a daily basis. “ the area where the neck meets the shoulders is a very slender region.” Mittu explains. “the doctors had told her that she needed to rest her neck but how could she?” he asks.

Indeed, how could she! Her livelihood was selling vegetables. If she was forced to take a break from it, how could she earn a livelihood? While she pondered her fate, Mittu pondered how to ensure she didn’t suffer any more pain and at the same time, how she could resume work.

Not new to innovation, Mittu, a design and development engineer for a private company, has been involved in changing design and modifying structures ever since his engineering college days. Armed with his invaluable experience, Mittu began to research on developing a device that would shoulder the burden and not strain the neck. During this period, he hit upon the idea of the shoulder harness to help his vegetable vendor.

The Shoulder Harness
Riding helmets are not a rarity; in fact, recently, the state imposed a law that required all riders wear to helmets while plying a motorcycle.Everyone knows the undeniable safety offered by the helmet. So why then, do they hesitate to wear it? Many reasons are cited which range from the absurd to the stubborn.

Motorcyclists and scooterists say the helmet cuts their peripheral vision some say it is much too hot, some others say that it is too heavy on their heads. “In fact, some of what they say is true, the helmets’ design is heavy and cumbersome,” Mittu says.

The shoulder harness developed by mittu works on the same principle but is a better version of the helmet. It is lighter and more practical.Built like a helmet, the harness has two extending limbs. These limbs rest on the shoulder with shoulder pads. So the weight of the head load rests not on the slender neck, but on the sturdier shoulder.

The 25-30 kilos that a vegetable vendor would normally carry and burden an ill-equipped region like the neck was now being borne by the shoulders.Shoulders can carry 25-30 kilos over a long period of time without suffering any significant damage.In addition to the irreparable damage caused by the heavy weights being lifted on to their necks, these vegetable vendors face additional risks.

“When I was working in Krishnagiri, my colleague and I were driving back in our car when we withnessed a horrific accident”, he recalls. “A young vegetable vendor crossing the street was struck down by a car”.

He explains that because she was carrying such a heavy load on her head, the young girl could not move her head sideways to glance at the street. It would require her whole body to turn to look at the oncoming vehicles.

At a handicap because of this, she would listen intently for the sound of vehicles and confidently walk across when she’d hear no sound. On that fateful day, she did not estimate she speed of the vehicle correctly and paid dearly for her misjudgement.

In Mittu’s  shoulder harness, the weight is borne by the shoulder, so the neck is free to turn. It allows visibility and turning up to 90 degrees. That is sufficient to allow any vendor to glance at the street before crossing. This handy technique can save the loss of many a life and limb.


Recognition for the Shoulder Harness
The design modifications on a regular riding helmet to form the shoulder harness have a number of advantages. The most obvious one is the reduction of impact on the head and neck.

The harness also addresses the heat, dermatological and hygiene problems usually faced by helmet wearers. Mittu’s design solves this problem in one stroke. The standard helmet has a 10mm gap between the skull of the wearer and the top of the helmet. This is usually filled with a sponge.

Mittu’s shoulder harness has a gap of 40 mm and this allows the cool breeze to circulate thus cooling the skull and eliminating skin problems caused by tight fits. It reduces the impact by widening the space between the skull and the top of the helmet.

With a visor, Mittu has adroitly dealt with the problem of harmful UV rays. Mittu’s thoughtful desigh ensures that the head and eyes are protected from the harmful UV rays of the sun.

All these modifications have not gone unnoticed. Mittu is lucky to have tasted success in his innovation. In fact, L-Ramp, honoured Mittu with an award for his innovation.
Occupational therapists, doctors and hospitals have recognized Mittu’s work and have appreciated his efforts in the field. The Manipal University of Allied Health Sciences has issued him a certificate of merit for his shoulder harness.

Assured that his design was sound, Mittu approached IIM Ahmedabad and they have entered into a patent cooperation treaty.With guidance from Universitites and organization, Mittu approached the Government and was awarded a substantial sum of money for this project. He receives funding, raw materials, manpower, and research assistance in the manufacture of shoulder harnesses.

For his efforts in alleviating suffering and his ingenious and tireless efforts to bring comfort and good health to many, salute Mittu for his innovation.

People in the construction site with the shoulder harness


Neethala Mittu,
39/1, Marriappa Konar, Street,
Near Arasan Theatre,
Mobile No: 9894273539

Updated on Feb , 2015

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