We have forgotten so many of our great men of yesteryears while continuing to celebrate only a select few. Very few people know or have even heard of Shankar Abaji Bhisey? No? Never? Thought so.
Well, he was a master innovator. Way back in the early 1900, before 1905, after finding no institution or organization which supported his inventions, he moved to London, recommended by Dinsha Wacha and promoted by none other than Dadabhai Navroji. There, in London, he went on to develop an innovative electronic signboard which was exhibited at the Crystal Palace in London and eventually adopted in stores in central London, Wales, and possibly Paris.
He had an array of dazzling innovations - kitchen gadgets, a telephone, a device for curing headaches, and an automatically flushing toilet. He also invented the Bhisotype, a typecaster that promised to revolutionise the printing industry.
To take his inventions further, he was promised funding by Henry Hyndman in 1907 but that fell apart and Naoroji's reserves dried up the following year. In Dec 1908, Bhisey boarded the ship to sail back to India where on board, he met Gopal Krishna Gokhale, a prominent Congress leader who put him in touch with the Tata Group and secured a new, larger commercial syndicate. This syndicate fell apart in 1917, but it did propel Bhisey onto a new career in America. In New York, however, Bhisey grew rich from an iodine solution he developed.
But the flop of his Bhisotype and then his veering more towards the occult in later years, where he even invented an improved Ouijja Board could explain why his name remained in obscurity. Yet, its fascinating to read the spirit and the intellectual abilities of some of our past Indians and one cannot help but wonder, what if…..