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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Dr  Anil K Rajvanshi who left US for India wins Padma Shri for e-rickshaws, biomass gasifiers development

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Dr Anil K Rajvanshi is credited for having developed the electric rickshaw , and biomass gasifiers. He was bestowed the Padma Shri award earlier this year.

Dr. Anil Kumar Rajvanshi, a devout Gandhian, returned to India after studying at the University of Florida in the United States.   Dr. Anil says he returned to India in 1981 in a fit of madness and hubris,

He says, “I thought I had learned enough and wanted to return to India and make a difference.”

Dr. Anil was born and raised in Lucknow, where he completed his schooling and then went on to get a Bachelors in Technology (BTech) and a Masters in Technology (MTech) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He earned his PhD at the University of Florida and taught there for two and a half years.

Dr. Anil’s interest in teaching as a profession began to blossom as a student.  He realised that in order to teach, he would need a PhD, so he enrolled in the University of Florida for his doctorate.

Dr. Anil was also the beneficiary of a government fellowship, which allowed him to stay in the United States for the duration of his visit. The initiative provided Dr. Anil with the travel, fees, and an additional money, but the fellowship was finally cancelled because most grantees wanted to remain forever in the United States, he says.

When Dr. Anil decided to return, his father was the first to accuse him of being “foolish.”

Dr. Anil says he spent one month around the country before making the huge step back to India to figure out where he could settle down. Dr. Anil says he didn’t want to be stymied by bureaucracy, so he chose to forge his own way and so decided to join the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in Phaltan, Satara district.

My father was imprisoned alongside Mahatma Gandhi in 1942, and this had an impact on my views.

Dr. Anil opted to make Phaltan his home and discusses his first years working there. During his first six months at Phaltan, he ran into a number of problems. It was difficult to acclimate to the new surroundings. But his desire to do something different was so strong that he persisted.

Several times during his first visit to India, his colleagues and acquaintances from the United States called him back, but Dr. Anil says he felt he would be betraying the country if I returned.

He recalls, “To be honest, that was the first and last time I considered returning to the United States. It was my passion that brought me here.”

While there have been various milestones in the development of NARI, Dr. Anil claims that one of the earliest was his work on using renewable fuel using Sweet Sorghum (sweet jowar). Following that, in 1995, he began development on an electric rickshaw. It was a first for India and the rest of the world.

Until 1995, there was no mention of e-rickshaws. But, today, each e-rickshaw you see or ride on was created right here in Phaltan.

Dr. Anil says, “Even so, it didn’t take off until I published a piece in a journal published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).”

The first e-rickshaw prototype debuted in 2000. When compared to gasoline and diesel automobiles, the e-rickshaw consumes 40% less energy. It has a PMDC motor, lead-acid batteries, a two-speed specifically developed gearbox, and an electronic card for a soft start.

Furthermore, it has a reverse gear. The e-rickshaw can comfortably carry two to three passengers at a speed of 35-40 km/hr and can travel up to 60-70 km on a single charge of the battery.

Eventually, visitors from all over the world began to flock to the institute to learn more about e-rickshaws. Some people duplicated the model, while others attempted to work on it and alter it.

Dr. Anil has also received seven patents in the previous four decades for alcohol stoves, biomass gasifiers, and e-rickshaws.

Dr. Anil concludes for today’s generation by saying, “Look for ways to be challenged. India has a plethora of issues that must be addressed one by one. Rather than looking for ways to flee the nation, let us work together to better the lives of Indians.

You should have passion in your life.”

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