Apart from being - in Chamanlal Gupta speak - the "Solar Thermal Man of India", I have had the privilege of having Mr. Deepak Gadhia as one of the most inspiring persons, finest mentors and closest friends in my life.
A powerful agent of change in the renewable energy sector in India, he could boast of setting up India's largest solar steam cooking systems. 5 thousand - 25 thousand - 50 thousand meals a day. Only he could break his own records.
Like any forerunner who makes an unprecedented foray in a hitherto unknown field, his life has been replete with challenges and opportunities alike. He has the unique ability to make a mountain of a challenge sound like a comical account of a period drama. I have always felt that had he stayed back in the country instead of studying and working in Germany, the English theatre scene in India would have received an unparalleled gem.
His technological prowess in catching ever-increasing slices of the Sun along with his self-deprecating sense of humour makes him a role model for thousands today.
During one of our first meetings a decade ago, he narrated one of the turning points of his life which led him to becoming the Solar Giant. Both Deepak bhai and his wife Shirin ben, were invited by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to return to India to pioneer the forthcoming trend in renewable energy. Together, they had the expertise in more than a dozen areas related to Sustainable Development. With high idealism and advanced German technology they were to set foot on Indian soil. One of the last people they met was an elderly German woman. She asked Deepak why he wanted to return to India and what he hoped to achieve. He explained his ideas about how India needs advanced technology to grow.
She was silent for a few minutes. Then said :
"It is sad that educated people like yourself misunderstand the solutions India needs.
India does not need advanced technology. It needs 'appropriate technology'."
This was the small seed which held within itself the promise of a giant tree.
To him, appropriate technology means 'Systemic technological solutions with local materials and machines - made, operated and repaired by upgrading local skills.' It is his disruptive thinking and contagious energy which taught me how to seamlessly integrate all aspects of sustainability into a holistic ecological framework based on innovation.
For more information on Deepak Gadhia's work on Solar, click the links below:
India's Mega Kitchens - SHIRDI :