A life of an ordinary Indian - An exercise in self-importance
This is an autobiography of Anil K Rajvanshi. Dr. Rajvanshi is a graduate of IIT Kanpur and a US trained engineer who left a lucrative career in US in early 1980s to come back and work in rural Maharashtra. He runs a small NGO called Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute, which works in the areas of agriculture, renewable energy, animal husbandry, and rural and sustainable development. He believes that technologies for rural areas should be developed by the use of high technology. Besides his technology work, he also writes regularly on issues of spirituality and technology and believes that the mantra of India’s development should be “spirituality with high technology”. He believes in simple living and high thinking and tries to live a sustainable life in rural setting. In essence, he is a spiritual engineer.
This book is an attempt to tell his story on what forces shaped him during his journey from childhood to being a spiritual engineer.
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"I feel that I have a story to tell, no matter how ordinary it might be, and do feel that it may inspire some youngsters to follow the path that I have trodden." So says Dr. Anil Rajvanshi, Director of the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), a non-governmental organization at Phaltan, Maharashtra, in the introduction to his autobiography "A life of an ordinary Indian – an exercise in self-importance." Rajvanshi, the man on a mission to change the face of rural India, is in fact is too modest because the story he is telling through his e-book is actually extraordinary and it may inspire not some but an army of engineers and trained youths to follow his path.
An engineer, researcher, philosopher, a spiritual guru, and a writer -- all rolled into one -- Rajvanshi is a man who gave up a profitable career in the United States at an young age and decided to direct his scientific talents for improving the life of rural population in his home state of Maharashtra in India. His autobiography begins with his early days in Lucknow, his undergraduate education at IIT Kanpur, his journey to the United States (where he obtained his PhD from University of Florida) and his work in renewable energy at NARI since his return from the U.S. in 1981.
The book gives readers a glimpse of the pioneering work by this team at NARI leading to innovative technologies for cooking and lighting with renewable energy; power generation from agricultural residues; electric cycle rickshaws for transport; a biomass gassifier to convert fallen tree leaves into energy; and a solar system for treating waste water besides others.. NARI pioneered development of improved variety of sweet sorghum -- a multipurpose crop that villagers can grow for grain and use as cattle fodder -- and "Lanstove" that acts simultaneously as a stove for cooking food and as a 100-Watt lamp for lighting the room. He has set up a Centre for Sustainable Development at NARI campus to sensitize the corporate world to the plight of rural poor so that they can become active players in rural uplift. Rajvanshi's autobiography also throws light on his phenomenal interest in spirituality and his emphasis that science and technology along with spiritual progress is necessary for holistic development of mind and body.
It is an interesting book written by Anil Rajvanshi. He has written in a dry manner about his life. The juicy details have been left out. Nevertheless it makes a compelling and interesting reading about his early years and his efforts in doing some meaningful work in rural India.
Rajvanshi is no ordinary Indian. He left a lucrative career in US to come back to rural India. That should be an example to lots of youngsters who want to emigrate abroad.
I recommend this book to young and old alike.