Friday, June 23, 2017

An Award Ignored

Strange are the ways of the Indian media.

A few days ago, an Indian scientist-entrepreneur based in Japan won the country's top environment award for 2017, and it was barely mentioned here. Bits of the news appeared on the web-editions of India Today and DNA, both apparently sourced from a newsfeed site called UNIIndia.

Dr. Shrihari Chandraghatgi, CEO of EcoCycle Corporation, was awarded the Environment Award for 2017 in Japan for "developing cutting edge technologies to address burning environmental problems". This award is the highest honour given every year jointly by the Ministry of Environment, Japan, National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Japan and The Nikkan Kogyo Shinbun (a media group). What is more,  Chandraghatgi is the first foreigner to win this award.

What exactly is the cutting edge technology developed by Chandraghatgi to address 'burning environmental problems"? According to information available at his company website, EcoCycle has developed a unique technology for environmental remediation and recycling of organic solvents in semiconductor industries. It uses microorganisims to clean the soil and groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents and hexavalent chromium. The company has also developed unique on-site emission analytical techniques for semiconductor industries.

India does not have a significant semiconductor industry. Much of its requirements are imported. While this may have been a reason for the rather tepid response here, it fails to see the larger picture. In one of the interviews, Chandraghatgi gives an open offer aimed at India - "Now it is my turn to work in India where large scale health problems are reported because of consuming toxic groundwater. If any organization, government or NGO, wants to take up such cause with concern of public health, I am ready to provide my technology and vast experience free!"

Will this offer be taken up in right earnest? Or will we continue to wear our blinkers and look-up towards the West - USA, Europe - technological breakthroughs that are relevant to India?


* (20Jun17) -UNI - "Agri. Microbiologist Dr Shrihari Chandraghatgi gets Japan Award"
- Dr Shrihari is currently helping Ministry of Industry, Thailand in forming environmental regulations and educate with remedial technologies.
- In 2017 he established a NGO, Kibono Hikari literally means Ray of Hope to help under privileged children in India with educational and medical support.

* (21Jun17) - IndiaToday - "Indian Agri-Microbiologist given Environment Award in Japan" -

* (21Jun17) - DNA -

* (2015) - Son's donation for Scoriosis treatment -

* EcoCycle Corporation, Japan

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