Friday, September 29, 2023

Conversation with Baba.....



(A few months ago, Mr. Subhash Vasekar, who served as the previous head of the Kalamaharshi Tryambak Vasekar Painting College in Nanded, which is renowned as the oldest and most esteemed art training institution in the Marathwada region of the state of Maharashtra, India, sadly departed. Dr. Parag Vasekar, his son, has reflected on his father's character and accomplishments during this conversation.)


Dear Baba,

On September 30, 2022, the moment we had both anticipated and feared finally arrived. The specter of this day had loomed for several days. It had been nine years since you first began battling heart disease, and in that time, your health had its share of ups and downs. Your remarkable willpower and disciplined lifestyle had carried you through these nine years admirably. Particularly in the last three to four years, during the challenging era of the pandemic, you had shown exceptional resilience.  Almost three years after the pandemic had subsided, we decided to visit your long-time friend, Dr. Kabde, for a check-up. Even medical professionals marveled at the meticulous way you cared for your health. However, both your indomitable spirit and the efforts of the doctors had their limitations. Your heart, which had gradually weakened over the past few years, finally ceased its beating at 11:30 pm on the 30th of September. You bid us a quiet farewell.  I recall the way you had prepared me for this eventuality, much as you did after the departure of Mothyai (grandmother) and Anna (grandfather). You told me, "Oh, this was bound to happen sooner or later. They had a good innings. Isn't it a relief that the illness didn't torment them further?" It was as if you were helping me mentally prepare for the inevitable in future. Everything unfolded swiftly that day, leaving no room for any further treatment. What brought me solace was that you did not endure any more suffering and found peace. Moreover, your wishes for eye and body donation were fulfilled. When the phone call came in the middle of the night in India on the 30th, a flicker of doubt crossed my mind. It was our long-time neighbor, Dr. Rathi, on the other end of the line. I immediately recognized the gravity of the situation and rushed to the airport.

During the journey, a montage of memories spanning the last forty to forty-five years flooded my thoughts. My earliest recollection goes back to when I was about two or three years old. You used to sit on the terrace in an armchair engrossed in a book, and I would often leap onto your lap, perching myself on your ‘lungi’. Your image in those days was somewhat unconventional, with your tall and lean stature, hair that flowed almost to your shoulders, oversized glasses, and a well-maintained beard. As a child, I knew you as this soft-spoken, somewhat solemn, and uniquely styled bearded man who happened to be my father. However, as I grew older, I began to realize that you were not only distinctive in appearance but also as a person and as a father.

One distinct memory stands out from my second-grade days when we were in a Marathi language class at school. On that particular day, our teacher had chosen a poem to teach us, titled ' ‘Pahune (Guests).' While instructing the poem, our teacher suddenly paused, gazing at me, and addressed the entire class, saying, "Children, the poem we are learning today was penned by none other than Parag's father!" The entire class was taken aback and filled with admiration. I felt a surge of joy knowing that all my friends were learning a poem authored by my father. When I eagerly conveyed this information to you in the comfort of our home, your reaction was marked by humility, and you responded with a modest, unpretentious smile.

As I matured, I came to understand you as an individual, and it became evident from whom I had inherited my upbringing. Your life had been a testament to integrity. Your demeanor exuded moderation and nobility, both in your words and actions. Your thoughts were rich and profound, offering a wealth of wisdom. Your perspective on the world and humanity was deep and insightful, marked by modernity and rationality. What set you apart was that these qualities in your personality did not manifest as judgment or condescension towards others. Your motto seemed to be, "I live by my principles, do what I believe is right, and respect the differences in others." You were candid and outspoken, yet remarkably sensitive. You steadfastly resisted the pull of narrow-mindedness and trivial matters, maintaining a broad and open-minded outlook. From the intellectual heights you had scaled, you might have recognized the limitations in the ideologies of others, but you chose not to dwell on that topic. You refrained from discussing people's shortcomings or imposing your values on them, nor did you engage in mockery. You possessed the capacity to grasp relationships or circumstances beyond commonly held beliefs. You demonstrated foresight in perceiving individuals as human beings rather than mere components of a system, and you exhibited the tolerance to comprehend intricacies beyond simplistic notions of right and wrong. Your overall demeanor carried an air of nonchalance that was particularly endearing.  Although you recognized the significance of money, you were aware that not all aspects of life could be solely determined by this single metric. Throughout life's many trials, you never lost your composure and sensitivity. My inclination has often been to distance myself when someone acts irrationally, but your approach has always been to see people as complex individuals, searching for the good in them. Somewhere along my college journey, I came across rational emotive thinking and therapies based on it, and I couldn't help but recognize that the practice of rational thinking was already ingrained in our household. Your conduct taught us valuable lessons in rational thinking. The virtues of goodness, sophistication, and nobility that radiated from your personality unconsciously influenced and permeated our lives.

As a father, you raised us in a profoundly distinct manner. The notions of chastising or berating a child were foreign to you and you refrained from dispensing unwarranted advice or directives. You never imposed your own desires upon your children; rather, you granted us the gift of autonomy and the freedom to make our own choices. Consequently, observing children from families influenced by somewhat feudal values, where constant "patronization" persisted even as they grew older, initially evoked a culture shock for me. This experience made us recognize the value of the democratic environment in which we were nurtured and the responsibility that accompanied the freedom we enjoyed. You consistently encouraged us to engage in open discussions when needed. You instilled in us the practice of considering that any matter could possess multiple facets and angles. You emphasized the importance of ensuring that decisions were not one-sided, allowing us to take ownership of them. I recollect instances when confusion clouded my judgment, and you would calmly advise, "Act or abstain only if it aligns with your principles. But contemplate whether the price we're paying for something is commensurate with its worth." In my adolescent years, I sometimes tended toward daydreaming and a hint of rebellion, yet your few words and, often, your patient silence would gently steer me back to reality. You imparted the wisdom that the world isn't simply divided into black and white; there are numerous layers to individuals and events. You taught us the invaluable skill of examining any matter from various perspectives and refraining from hasty conclusions. From you, I learned the art of maintaining clarity of thought and expressing my convictions while respecting differing viewpoints held by others.

The relationship between a father and son is complex and layered, with certain aspects of it being universal. I find myself going through profound reflections and experiences since your passing—those unspoken words, things that might have been asked more openly, actions taken for granted, unfinished matters, a treasure trove of memories, and those thoughts now etched firmly in my mind. My affection for you was born out of genuine respect for you as an individual. There was no overpowering patriarchal aura between us, which allowed me to communicate with you openly. Over the past few years, especially during your illness, our bond grew stronger. About five or six years ago, I traveled to India to visit you as your health had taken a downturn. While I was there, your condition suddenly worsened, and we all remained by your bedside almost around the clock. Even stepping away for a mere five minutes would deeply upset you. Numerous severe health issues had surfaced, making your health intricate and fragile. Under such circumstances, the thought of leaving you and returning to America was out of the question. Many might have deemed it impractical to abruptly leave everything behind and reside in India, a suggestion you had made to me prior to your health decline. However, I had no doubts then. You became my top priority at that moment. The depth of our connection transcends practicality; it's about being there for a loved one in their time of need. After approximately eight months, you recuperated from your illness, and I returned to America with a sense of contentment. You lived joyfully and contentedly for the subsequent five to six years after that ordeal. You immersed yourself in books, indulged in quality movies, and faithfully maintained daily notes in your elegant handwriting, documenting your reading experiences and daily occurrences. These notebooks have become cherished possessions of mine. Your passion for reading persisted even after retirement. You delved into classical literature in Marathi, Hindi, and English. For many years, our routine was for me to order books online, which you would read, and I would bring these books with me whenever I visited India. I have fond memories of my childhood, observing you engrossed in a book, and I would instinctively pick up a book myself. You seldom directed me to read a particular book, but you paid close attention to my choices. I recall an incident from when I was in the sixth grade when I borrowed a propaganda book from the library about the Taj Mahal. You promptly reprimanded me and insisted that I return the book immediately. You also enjoyed watching the finest films, both domestic and international. I remember sending you a popular Chinese movie titled 'The Postman in the Mountain,' centered around the theme of a father-son relationship. After watching this film, your friend and writer Madhukar Dharmapurikar reminisced about the closeness and communication in our relationship. I left home after completing the 10th grade for my education and went on to make my own decisions, eventually settling in America. Your support has always been unwavering. While you may not have verbalized it frequently, I could discern the pride and appreciation in your eyes for the person I had become, and your contentment was all I sought. Occasionally, you conveyed your sentiments through letters or even through your poetry.

Your enduring traits included a deep commitment to orderliness, cleanliness, tidiness, and strict adherence to principles. Health concerns had limited your ability to travel, but you compensated by immersing yourself in the world of great music, quality literature, and classic international films. Your artistic sensibilities, appreciation for beauty, and mindfulness were evident in the everyday minutiae of life. Your books, possessions and electronic devices were meticulously maintained to ensure their longevity. In the 1970s, you acquired a record player and had a favored handkerchief for dusting it. Several years later, cassette players and CD players entered the scene, yet that same napkin remained faithful for cleaning them, a keepsake I still possess. Clothes designated for laundry were impeccably folded, as if freshly pressed. Read newspapers were neatly stacked, one atop the other. The arrangement and alignment of furniture in the house were firmly etched in your mind, and any slight alteration prompted immediate correction. Your unwavering commitment to your preferences often left those around you feeling overwhelmed. When something resonated with you and became a personal pursuit, you displayed remarkable patience and persistence, exemplified by your ability to savor spinach sabji and jawar roti every night without growing weary of it for many years. There was a time when you spent a year in a hostel and developed digestive issues, leading to dietary restrictions that discouraged travel and dining out. Exceptions to these rules were exceedingly rare. I vividly recall the time you came to Pune to drop me off after I secured admission for engineering. We stayed at a lodge near my hostel. I was concerned that you'd have limited options for food and drink over the next few days, but you pleasantly surprised me. The very next morning, you took me to an Irani restaurant next door and firmly ordered, "Two chai and bun-maska." For my sake, you temporarily set aside your dietary rules and dined out for a couple of days. Such deviations from your routine were exceedingly rare. Your meticulousness extended to your handwriting. Your script was beautiful, flowing, and captivated anyone who read it. Each piece of text you wrote was as immaculate and concise as if it had been typeset. My close friend, Dr. Siddique Ahmed, assisted in diagnosing your condition through your writing. Stories abound about your punctuality; your daily regimen operated like clockwork. For instance, you would enjoy your morning tea precisely at 7:30 and then stroll in the courtyard, counting the minutes until it was exactly 8:00. You adhered to a strict schedule for taking medication at night, watching the clock intently until it struck nine, neither a minute early nor late. In your healthier days, you followed a specific timetable for your daily walks, and some residents in the neighborhood humorously commented that they set their clocks by your routine. Your routine specified when you would depart, for how long, and which routes you would take. In the adjacent neighborhood, there was a septuagenarian named Ibrahim who owned a small bangle shop. You passed by his shop daily, and although you didn't engage in lengthy conversations, a silent agreement was forged to exchange smiles and greetings every day. At that time, you might not have known each other's names. However, when illness prevented you from going out for an extended period, Ibrahim wondered where the gentleman he saw at the same time every day had disappeared. After inquiries and some detective work, he discovered your health situation and our home address, leading him to visit you. Your personality possessed a unique charm that effortlessly forged deep connections and acquaintanceships, even when you barely knew the other person.

You embarked on your journey as a poet at a remarkably tender age. These early poems of yours found their way into various magazines and special Diwali editions. Grandpa recognized your talent and consistently provided you with quality books to nurture your love for reading. Additionally, noted literary individuals such as Anant Bhalerao, Ram Shewalkar, Yadunath Thatte, Narhar Kurundkar, and Sarita Padaki acknowledged your exceptional abilities and offered unwavering encouragement. At the tender age of twenty-five, you saw the publication of your debut collection of children's poetry in Marathi, titled 'Paryanchi Shaala.' The book received a profound foreword from the esteemed literary figure Narhar Kurundkar. It garnered praise from luminaries such as G. T. Madkholkar, Anant Kanekar, V.L. Kulkarni, V.R. Kant, B.R. Bhagwat, and Anand Yadav. The book garnered numerous accolades, including the 'Kavi Keshavsut' award for children's literature from the Maharashtra State Government in 1975. You have crafted a select yet high-quality body of work in children's literature. Recognizing that children's literature plays a vital role in shaping young minds, you steadfastly maintained that it should be robust and executed with seriousness and responsibility. You frequently stressed that your writing was guided by an 'inner voice,' and you didn't write merely for the sake of writing. Your children's poems are characterized by their quirky and humorous ideas, catchy rhythms, playful illustrations, and imaginative themes. Your close friend Mr. L.K. Kulkarni noted these qualities in the introduction to one of your books. You had little inclination towards didactic children's literature; it was not your forte. Instead, you chose to immerse yourself in the emotional world of children and provide them pure entertainment. I vividly recall an occasion when someone questioned this in my presence, and your response remains etched in my memory. You asserted, "I don't believe that children's literature must always be didactic. It doesn't need to be didactic; some children's literature can be purely entertaining. Of course, it's wonderful if it's both entertaining and instructive. This kind of entertaining and imaginative children's literature caters to a specific age group's emotional needs. These are my children. They, too, read my books as children. What harm is there in it?" Your poems have enriched the emotions and lives of two or three generations. A ballad you penned nearly 50 years ago, ‘Gharapudhe Thambala Tanga,' still holds a special place in children's hearts. This song has been brought to life on YouTube (, and its viewership has reached millions. When you learned of this, you didn't seek personal recognition but instead expressed joy that the song was reaching children. Your genuine and sincere desire to remain modest and humble was truly remarkable. In the realm of children's literature, aesthetics are as vital as the literary content itself. It is imperative to include illustrations that complement and enhance the essence of the poems. Given your background as a painter, you took charge of the cover design and interior illustrations for the book 'Paryanchi Shaala.' Your contributions were widely recognized, and you received accolades such as the Santukrao Bhokare Children's Literature Award and  G.H. Patil Children's Literature Award. Additionally, you had the honor of presiding over the 5th Marathwada Balakumar Sahitya Sammelan , literary meet held in Ambajogai in 1997. While you did share your adult-oriented poetry in esteemed publications like Pratishthan, Kavita-Rati, and Anushtubh, your primary focus remained on creating children's literature. The innocent world of children held a special place in your heart, surpassing the world of adults. Your beloved niece and prolific writer, Kavita Mahajan, was an ardent fan of your children's literature. She had ambitious plans to compile all your published and unpublished works into a comprehensive collection. Sadly, her untimely passing left this project incomplete. However, I have taken it upon myself to carry forward her vision and complete this endeavor as soon as possible.

You were born in 1949, which means your generation was born right after India gained independence. Your birthplace was 'Vasa,' your ancestral village, but you spent your entire life in Nanded. Anna named you 'Subhashchandra' in honor of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. In your childhood, your aspirations were shaped by the times you lived in and the ideals you held for the future. You admired figures like Pandit Nehru, who embodied an open-minded, scientific perspective and a global vision. You even sent him a drawing you had made, and his office acknowledged receiving it. The objects you had preserved meticulously, your correspondence, newspaper clippings, and articles, all conveyed to me that you saw yourself as a human being above all else. Many of these stories and observations that you shared or showed me, you never sought to exhibit or boast about them. Your artistic interests extended beyond writing. You had an extensive collection of postage stamps that you meticulously categorized. During your  childhood, you had a pen-friend from the United States with whom you engaged in discussions about cultural diversity. You were genuinely excited about exploring changing world dynamics. In the eighth grade, you had the opportunity to participate in a summer camp, Kumar Kalakar Melava, organized in Pune by the ‘Sadhana’ group catering to progressive values, led by Yadunath Thatte. From then on, your connection with Yadunath Thatte, Sarita Padaki, and others grew, and through letters, you established an unbroken dialogue. Events such as Kumar Kalakar Melava were instrumental in expanding your knowledge of art and your perspectives on life. Your writings garnered recognition, and your achievements were acknowledged through awards and memorabilia granted by the Government of Maharashtra. In your youth, you corresponded with several eminent literary figures who were genuinely impressed with your work. Your letters to them were characterized by a deep reverence for their contributions. This collection of letters reveals your organized and methodical nature in maintaining correspondence and preserving these memories.

The foundation of your identity as both a person and an artist was undoubtedly laid in our home environment, characterized by progressive values. From an early age, your fondness for reading and your inclination toward independent, critical thinking were evident. Our household fostered an atmosphere that transcended religious, caste, and traditional boundaries, leaning towards humanistic and modern ideas. While festivals were celebrated with enthusiasm, customs and traditions were not given undue importance. In your childhood, our home in the Holi area of Nanded, known as 'Chitra-Shala,' attracted many renowned artists and writers. Painting, music, literature, and acting were deeply practiced within our household. This nurturing environment significantly influenced your development and brought forth your latent literary and artistic talents. Your academic achievements began to manifest when you appeared on the merit list in your matriculation examination. Instead of pursuing the more traditional paths of engineering or medicine, you chose to pursue a B.A. degree. You furthered your education with degrees in painting, including G.D.Art and A.M., and also achieved academic excellence by securing the first rank in the M.A. (Political Science and Public Administration) examination at Marathwada University. Following your education at the School of Art in Mumbai's J.J. School of Art, you could have settled in Pune or Mumbai, but you made the conscious decision to return to Nanded to support your father. In 1955, Anna (Grandpa), also known as Tryambak Vasekar, established 'Abhinav Chitrashala' in Nanded, the first art education institution in Marathwada. This institution faced numerous challenges but flourished with integrity under your joint efforts. In 1971, you joined the painting college of this esteemed institution as a professor, ultimately retiring as its principal after serving for 36 years. The establishment of Abhinav Chitrashala marked a historic moment in Marathwada's art landscape. When it was founded, there were no private or government institutions dedicated to teaching art in the region. Anna's vision was to establish an independent institute for teaching painting in Marathwada, and you played a significant role in realizing this dream. Throughout your life, both you and Anna managed your institution with unwavering principles, even when faced with financial difficulties. Government subsidies were often insufficient, and while many tempting offers came your way, you steadfastly avoided taking handouts or engaging in unethical practices. As a professor, you were known for your dedication to your students and for maintaining discipline. Many of your students still testify to your strict but caring approach. After retirement, you continued to correspond with numerous former students who have gone on to achieve recognition in various fields. The institution you both nurtured was known for its adherence to merit-based admissions, and it was not uncommon for students and parents to attempt various means, including coercion, to secure admission. Despite these pressures, you upheld your principles and resisted any attempts to compromise on your high ethical standards. You never yielded to political pressures that sought to secure admissions for students lacking in merit. Your steadfastness in the face of such challenges is well-remembered. The work of your institution extended beyond providing art education; it gave rise to a parallel movement dedicated to promoting and developing children's art. This movement produced many dedicated and passionate activist colleagues. To further children's art, the organization-initiated children's painting examinations, which quickly gained popularity not only in Maharashtra but also in the states of Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Gujarat. These examinations played a pivotal role in bringing art education to children, even in remote villages. The curriculum of these exams prioritized children's creativity and innovation, drawing from modern educational philosophy and child psychology. Your close association with this movement allowed you to connect with the emotions of children, inspiring your contributions to children's literature through children's painting.

You had expressed your desire for both eye donation and body donation on multiple occasions. You had even formalized this wish in a written will, instructing that your body should be donated without any religious rituals. This will was shared with me several years ago. While many might view this as a forward-thinking or bold step, for you, it was a natural and uncomplicated decision. You were never confined by social or religious frameworks that didn't align with your beliefs. The ideological rationality and rationalism that you championed throughout your life became your final journey. It's a fact that even today, the number of body donors in India remains relatively low. However, body donation is of paramount importance for medical education and research, and there is a pressing need to raise awareness about it in society. When I received the call from India that day, I promptly informed the doctor about your wishes. Dr. Rathi, Dr. Kabde, and Dr. Siddique swiftly handled the necessary arrangements. Preserving a deceased body in India until the children abroad can return can be a considerable challenge following such a tragic incident. However, by donating your body, you managed to address this concern yourself. Eye donation and the donation of a body necessitate transportation to an authorized medical institution within four to six hours. The procedures for eye donation, body embalming, and other necessary paperwork were completed before my arrival in India. Upon my arrival, accompanied by four or five close relatives, I paid my final respects to you at the Government Medical College. You lay in peaceful repose. After the others had respectfully stepped aside, I continued to converse with you silently for an extended period. You had made the life that came your way beautiful, and your presence enriched our lives profoundly. Now, as you've departed, it feels as though a part of me has gone with you. I shook your long-fingered hand one last time and bid you a final farewell. I realized that the next thirty to forty years would have to be spent without you, relying solely on memories. The warm and loving voice that I used to hear on the phone at nine o'clock every night would never grace my ears again. On the very last day, when I called you two hours before you left, our conversation was delightful. You shared the daily routine, listing what you had read during the day and what you had watched on TV. You expressed curiosity about my reading choices. Whenever I traveled, we would discuss the places, their histories, and cultures. Your extensive reading had already provided you with a wealth of knowledge, and our discussions often offered fresh perspectives. Now, I will continue to explore the world, have various experiences, and read different books, but you won't be there to share in these conversations. The space that was rightfully reserved for meaningful discussions with someone from anywhere in the world is now vacant. It's time for me to truly grow up.




Sunday, July 31, 2011

सूर्य उजळणारा संशोधक-उद्योजक - सकाळ -सप्तरंगमधील माझा लेख , ३१ जुलै २०११

डॉ. पराग वसेकर

हरीश हांडे आणि नीलिमा मिश्रा या दोघांना यंदाचा रॅमन मॅगसेसे पुरस्कार जाहीर झाला आहे. या पुरस्काराने बचत गट चळवळीला आणि सौरऊर्जेच्या क्षेत्रात काम करणाऱ्या मंडळींना बळ मिळणार आहे. या दोन दिग्गजांचा परिचय....

यंदाच्या रॅमन मॅगसेसे पुरस्कार विजेते डॉ. हरीश हांडे यांचे कार्य हे भारतात सौरऊर्जा ही ग्रामीण भागात तळा-गाळापर्यंत यशस्वीपणे उपलब्ध करू शकण्याचे एक उत्तम उदाहरण आहे. अमेरिकेत पी.एच.डी.चे शिक्षण घेत असताना हांडे यांच्या सौरऊर्जा क्षेत्रातील प्रवासाची सुरवात झाली. त्याआधी हांडे यांनी आयआयटी खरगपूरहून पदवी संपादन केली. अमेरिकेतील मॅसॅच्युसेट्‌स प्रांतातील युमास- लॉवेल विद्यापीठात "हीट-ट्रान्स्फर' हा त्यांच्या प्रबंधाचा विषय होता. त्या संबंधातील काही कामानिमित्त ते डॉमिनिक रिपब्लिकला गेले असताना त्यांच्या असे लक्षात आले, की त्या देशात भारतापेक्षा अधिक गरिबी असूनही तेथील खेड्या-पाड्यांत सौरऊर्जेवर चालणारे दिवे आहेत...असे असताना मग भारतातील गरीब लोकांना याचा फायदा का होऊ नये या विचाराने त्यांचा ध्यास घेतला. नव्वदच्या दशकाच्या साधारण सुरवातीचा हा काळ होता. डॉमिनिक रिपब्लिकमधून अमेरिकेत परतताच त्यांनी या विचाराचा अक्षरशः पाठपुरावा केला. त्यासाठी त्यांनी आपल्या प्रबंधाचा जुना विषय केराच्या कुंडीत टाकला आणि पुनश्‍च हरिओम करून सौरऊर्जेत पी.एच.डी. करण्याचा निर्णय घेतला. अमेरिकेतील शिक्षण संपताच त्यांनी 1995 मध्ये भारतात "सेल्को-सोलर' या आपल्या कंपनीची स्थापना केली. कंपनीची स्थापना तीन मूलभूत तत्त्वांवर आधारभूत होती : 1) ग्रामीण भागातील सर्वसामान्यांना स्थायी (सस्टेनेबल) तंत्रज्ञान परवडू शकते. 2) हे लोक त्या तंत्रज्ञानाची देखरेख करू शकतात. आणि 3) व्यावसायिकता व सामाजिक दृष्टिकोन यांची मेळ घालता येऊ शकते.

तेव्हापासून गुजरात आणि कर्नाटक या दोन राज्यांत 25 सर्व्हिस सेंटर व साधारण 170 कर्मचाऱ्यांसह कंपनीने आपला विस्तार केला आहे आणि एक लाखाहून अधिक सोलर सिस्टिम्स विकल्या आहेत. केवळ चाकोरीबद्ध उत्पादन करून ते विकण्यापेक्षा त्याही पलीकडे जाऊन एखाद्या खरेदीकर्त्याची नक्की गरज काय आहे ? त्यानुसार आपल्या प्रॉडक्‍टमध्ये काय बदल करता येईल, की जेणेकरून ते त्या-त्या व्यक्तिसापेक्ष अधिक किफायतशीर आणि अधिक उपयोगी ठरेल, या गोष्टींकडे कंपनीचे लक्ष असते. कर्नाटकातील प्रत्येक भागात त्या-त्या भागातील बोली भाषा बोलणारे तंत्रज्ञ हे तत्पर तुमच्या सेवेसाठी उपलब्ध आहेत. तसेच, कंपनीच्या सहकार्याने माफक व्याजदरात अनेक वित्तीय संस्थांमार्फत कर्ज मिळण्याची सोय आहे. सोलर लाइट, हिटर, कुकर अशी अनेक उत्पादने "सेल्को-सोलर' मार्फत केली जातात. कर्नाटक राज्यात सौरऊर्जेबाबत तळा-गाळापर्यंत जागरूकता निर्माण करण्याचे महत्त्वाचे कार्य डॉ. हरीश हांडे आणि त्यांच्या सहकार्यांनी केले आहे. साधारण 95000 घरे, शाळा आदी सौरदिव्यांमुळे उजळल्या गेल्या आहेत; तसेच सौरऊर्जेवर अनेक छोटे-मोठे उद्योग-धंदेही यशस्वीपणे चालत आहेत. 2011 संपेपर्यंत ग्रामीण भागातील साधारण दोन लाख घरांत सौरदिवे लावण्याचा हांडेंचा मानस आहे. दिवे लावण्यासाठी वापरण्यात येणारी सोलर सिस्टिम ही पंखे, रेडिओ आदींसाठीसुद्धा सहज वापरता येऊ शकते. आजही जगातील वीस टक्के, दक्षिण आशियातील चाळीस टक्के आणि भारतातील साठ टक्के लोक नियमित विजेपासून वंचित आहेत आणि त्यांतील बहुतांश लोक हे ग्रामीण भागात आहेत. या पार्श्‍वभूमीवर हांडेनी केलेली सुरवात अतिशय मोलाची आहे. जगभरात ग्रामीण भागातील करोडो लोग आजही इंधन म्हणून लाकूड किंवा केरोसिनचा वापर करतात. ग्रामीण भागात सौरऊर्जा सहजरीत्या उपलब्ध करून दिल्यास लाकूड जाळण्यातून किंवा केरोसिनच्या वापरातून होणारी पर्यावरणाची हानी नक्कीच टाळता येईल.अमेरिकेत स्थायिक होण्याचा आणि तेथील गलेलठ्ठ पगाराच्या नोकरीचा मोह टाळून डॉ. हरीश हांडे साधारण पंधरा वर्षांपूर्वी भारतात परतले. ज्या काळात सौरऊर्जेचा आजसारखा बोलबालाही नव्हता, त्या काळात ग्रामीण भागातील जनतेच्या हितासाठी सौरऊर्जेची उत्पादने सुरू करण्याचे द्रष्टेपण त्यांनी दाखविले आणि कर्नाटक राज्यात आपल्या कार्याचे रोप रुजवून; तसेच वेळप्रसंगी तोटा सहन करूनही आपले काम नेटाने पुढे नेले. डॉ. हांडे यांच्या कार्याची यथायोग्य दखल घेऊन यंदाचा अतिशय प्रतिष्ठेचा रॅमन मॅगसेसे पुरस्कार त्यांना जाहीर झाला आहे. आपल्या पावलावर पाऊल ठेवून देशातील इतर राज्यांतील तरुणांनी पुढाकार घ्यावा आणि आपल्या कार्याचे लोण देशभर पसरावे, अशी डॉ. हांडे यांची मनापासून इच्छा आहे.
(लेखक सौरऊर्जा क्षेत्रातील संशोधक आहेत.)
Sunday, July 31, 2011 AT 06:00 AM (IST)
Tags: saptrang

Monday, June 6, 2011

सकाळ (सप्तरंग) मधील 'सौर उर्जे' वर माझा लेख

सोलार लाइफ
डॉ.पराग वसेकर (
Sunday, June 05, 2011 AT 06:23 PM (IST)

पुढील वीस वर्षांत जगाची लोकसंख्या आठशे कोटी होऊ शकेल. ऊर्जेची गरज सध्याच्या तुलनेत काही पटींत वाढेल आणि सध्या वीजनिर्माण क्षेत्रात अग्रेसर असलेल्या आण्विक ऊर्जा क्षेत्राने दिवसाला एक अशा गतीने अणुभट्ट्या उभारल्या तरी ही गरज पुरी होण्यासारखी नाही. शिवाय जपानमधील दुर्घटनेच्या पार्श्‍वभूमीवर जगानेही अणुप्रकल्पांचा फेरविचार करण्यास सुरवात केली आहे. त्या पार्श्‍वभूमीवर सौरऊर्जेचा विचार केला असता एका तासात पृथ्वीवर पडणारी सौरऊर्जा ही रूपांतरित केल्यास आपली एका वर्षाची ऊर्जेची निकड भागवण्यासाठी पुरेशी असते! मात्र हे प्रत्यक्षात आणण्यासाठी आणखी बऱ्याच संशोधनाची आवश्‍यकता आहे.
अपारंपरिक आणि विशेषतः सौरऊर्जा क्षेत्रातील संशोधनावरील निधी तसेच जागरूकता दिवसेंदिवस वाढत आहे. सध्याच्या पारंपरिक ऊर्जास्रोतांचे पर्याय फक्त अजून काही वर्षेच उपलब्ध असणार आहेत आणि शिवाय त्यांच्या अनेक नकारात्मक बाजूही आहेत. अपारंपरिक ऊर्जाक्षेत्रात सौरऊर्जेशिवाय वायुऊर्जा, टायडल, जिओथर्मल असे पर्याय आहेत. मात्र, भविष्यकाळातील ऊर्जेची गरज काही अंशीच भागवण्याची क्षमता त्यात आहे. सध्या सौरऊर्जा क्षेत्रातील संशोधन हे मुख्यतः सौरऊर्जा ही पारंपरिक ऊर्जास्रोतांपेक्षा कमी खर्चिक करण्यासाठी चालू आहे. जपान, जर्मनी या सौरऊर्जेतील परंपरागत शिलेदारांसकट अमेरिका, शिवाय चीन आणि भारतानेही याबाबत पुढाकार घेतला आहे. सौरऊर्जा निर्मितीत आणि नंतर वापरातही कुठल्याही प्रकारचे अपायकारक वायू वातावरणात सोडले जात नाहीत. त्यामुळे प्रदूषण, ग्लोबल वार्मिंगसारखे इतर ऊर्जाक्षेत्रांशी निगडित वादांचे विषय सौरऊर्जेपासून मात्र चार हात दूरच आहेत. सौर-विद्युतऊर्जा अधिक प्रचलित आणि पारंपरिक ऊर्जास्रोतांशी स्पर्धात्मक करण्यासाठी अनेक देशांत सबसिडी आणि तत्सम योजना राबवल्या जात आहेत. सौरऊर्जा ही काळाची गरज आहे आणि दूरच्या भविष्यकाळात तर त्याला पर्यायच नाही. इतर पर्यायांवरील अवलंबित्व लवकरात लवकर कमी करण्यासाठी भारतासारख्या देशात योजनाबद्ध नियोजनाची आवश्‍यकता आहे.

थोडे सौरऊर्जेमागील विज्ञानाविषयी
बेकरेल या फ्रेंच शास्त्रज्ञाने १८३९ मध्ये सौरऊर्जा परिवर्तन प्रथम शोधले. त्यानंतर १९५४ मध्ये अमेरिकेतील "बेल लॅब' या जगप्रसिद्ध प्रयोगशाळेत पहिला आधुनिक सोलार सेल जन्माला आला. सोलार सेल हा धनभार (P-type) आणि ऋणभार(N-type) असणाऱ्या अर्धवाहक (semiconductor) घटकांच्या एकत्रीकरणाने तयार होतो. अर्धवाहकांचे गुणधर्म हे धातू आणि अधातू यांच्यामध्ये असतात. प्रकाशकण जेव्हा सोलार सेलमध्ये शोषले जातात, तेव्हा त्यांचे ऋणभारीत कण आणि भारमुक्त कण अशा दोन विभिन्न घटकांत रूपांतर होते. हे दोन घटक परस्परविरुद्ध दिशांना आकर्षिले जाऊन बाह्य सौर विद्युतमंडल पूर्ण होते आणि अशा रीतीने सौरऊर्जेचे रूपांतर विद्युतऊर्जेत होते.

सध्याच्या संशोधनाचा कल हा अधिकाधिक कार्यक्षम सोलार सेल तयार करण्यासोबतच मध्यम कार्यक्षम; परंतु तुलनेत स्वस्त आणि टिकावू असे संशोधन पातळीवरील सोलार सेल आणि पुढे चालून सोलार पॅनल तयार करण्याकडे आहे. बहुतांशी सोलार पॅनलसाठी काच हे पाया (substrate) म्हणून वापरले जाते, त्याऐवजी प्लॅस्टिक किंवा इतर अनेक लवचिक धातू पाया म्हणून वापरून सोलार सेलची पुढील रचना त्यावर बांधल्यास तयार होणारे सोलार पॅनल हे वजनाने खूप हलके, लवचिक तसेच वाहतुकीसाठी खूप सोयीचे ठरू शकते. असे हलके आणि लवचिक सोलार पॅनल हे घरावरील छपरे, पाठीवर घेण्याच्या बॅग, कारचा वरचा भाग आदी अनेक ठिकाणी वापरता येतील, अगदी आपण घालतो ते कपडेसुद्धा यापासून तयार करता येतील. हे पॅनल खिशात घडी करून ठेवता येतील आणि पाहिजे तेव्हा काढून मोबाईल त्यावर चार्ज करता येईल! अर्थातच अशा पॅनलची किंमत तुलनेत बरीच कमी असेल. असे तुलनेत स्वस्त, टिकाऊ आणि लवचिक सोलार पॅनल भारतासारख्या विकसनशील देशासाठी आदर्श आहेत. कारण हे सहजरीत्या खेड्यापाड्यात पोचवता येतील. शिवाय सोलार पॅनलपासून तयार होणारा एकदिक विद्युतप्रवाह (Direct current) हा बहुदिक विद्युतप्रवाहात(Alternating Current)  रूपांतर करण्यासाठी वापरण्यात येणाऱ्या इन्व्हर्टर तंत्रज्ञानातही आमूलाग्र संशोधन चालू आहे. त्यामध्ये सोलार पॅनल आणि इन्व्हर्टर अशी एक संलग्न आणि स्वायत्त यंत्रणा विकसित होत आहे जी वाहतुकीसाठी सुलभ असेल आणि दुर्गम भागातही वापरण्यासाठी सोईस्कर असेल. एकंदरीतच सौरऊर्जा क्षेत्र लवकरच प्रबळ होईल अशी आशा करण्यास हरकत नाही.

सोलार सेलच्या पिढ्या
पहिल्या पिढीतील सोलार सेल हे मुख्यतः सिलिकॉनपासून तयार झाले. या सोलार सेलची कार्यक्षमता (Efficiency) साधारण २०-२५ टक्के असते. मात्र, सिलिकॉन हे मुबलक प्रमाणात उपलब्ध नाही, तसेच सिलिकॉन संगणकाचे चिप्स तयार करण्यासाठी वापरले जात असल्याने महागडेदेखील आहे. सध्या घराघरांवर दिसणारे सोलार पॅनल हे बहुतांशी सिलिकॉनपासून तयार झालेले आहेत.

दुसऱ्या पिढीतील सोलार सेल हे तांब्यासारख्या त्यामानाने स्वस्त आणि मुबलक प्रमाणात उपलब्ध असणाऱ्या धातूंच्या संयोगाने तयार झालेल्या मिश्रधातूंपासून बनविले आहेत आणि त्यांचे सध्या संशोधनाकडून औद्योगिक उत्पादनाकडे स्थित्यंतर चालू आहे. हे दुसऱ्या पिढीतील सोलार सेल "थिन फिल्म सोलार सेल' म्हणून प्रचलित आहेत. यांची उदाहरणे म्हणजे कॉपर-इन्डिअम-गॅलीअम-सेलेनाईड (CIGS) आणि कॅडमियम टेल्युराईड (CdTe). या सोलार सेलची कार्यक्षमता साधारण १२-१५ टक्के असते. दुसऱ्या पिढीतील या तंत्रज्ञानाला "थिन फिल्म' म्हणून संबोधण्याचे महत्त्वाचे कारण म्हणजे अतिशय कमी जाडीचा (एक मीटरचा दशलक्षावा भाग) मूलद्रव्यांचा थर हा त्याच्यापेक्षा शंभर पटीने अधिक असलेल्या सिलिकॉनच्या थराएवढाच कार्यक्षम असतो. पर्यायाने सिलिकॉनपेक्षा साधारण शंभर पटीने कमी असा मूलद्रव्यांचा वापर होतो.

तिसऱ्या पिढीतील सोलार सेल हे अतिशय स्वस्त असणाऱ्या आणि सुलभ प्रक्रियेने तयार करता येण्याजोग्या सेंद्रिय घटकांपासून तयार करण्यात येत आहेत आणि ते सध्या संशोधन पातळीवर आहेत.

जवळपास सर्वच पिढ्यांतील सोलार सेलच्या सैद्धांतिक आणि प्रायोगिक क्षमतेत तफावत आहे. ही तफावत कमी करण्यासाठी पुंज-भौतिकशास्त्रातील (Quantum Physics) काही मूलभूत तत्त्वे वापरून चौथ्या पिढीतील सोलार सेलवर संशोधनही वेग घेत आहे. प्रकाशकिरण हे विविध तरंगलांबीचे (wavelength) बनलेले असतात. प्रत्येक पदार्थ त्याच्या काही मूलभूत गुणधर्मामुळे काही विशिष्ट तरंग लांबीचेच प्रकाशकिरण शोषून घेऊ शकतो. त्यामुळे चौथ्या पिढीतील सोलार सेलमध्ये असे ३-४ वेगवेगळे पदार्थ एकमेकांवर ठेवून प्रकाशकिरणांच्या दृश्‍य स्पेक्‍ट्रममधील जास्तीत जास्त भाग कसा वापरता येईल या दृष्टीने संशोधन चालू आहे. त्याचप्रमाणे असेही आढळून आले आहे की तोच पदार्थ नॅनो वायरच्या स्वरूपात वापरल्यास त्याचे गुणधर्म बदलून तो वेगवेगळ्या तरंग लांबीचेच प्रकाशकिरण शोषू शकतो.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

कुहू : कविता महाजन यांची मल्टिमिडीया कादंबरी

भारतातील पहिली मल्टिमिडीया कादंबरी लवकरच येत आहे, कविता महाजन यांच्या ’" कुहू" बद्दल अधिक माहितीसाठी आणि नोंदणीसाठी या वेबसाईटवर जावे:

तसेच कुहूचा ब्लॉग :

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

माझे आजोबा त्र्यंबक वसेकर २००६ साली दिवंगत झाले, त्यानंतर महाराष्ट्र-टाईम्समध्ये प्रकाशित झालेला माहितीपर लेख

पुण्या-मुंबईपासून दूर असल्यामुळे मराठवाड्याच्या कला क्षेत्राची महाराष्ट्राला फारशी ओळख नाही, पण त्यामुळे तेथल्या कलावंतांचे महत्त्व कमी मानता येणार नाही. स्वातंत्र्यानंतरच्या काळात नांदेड शहरात कलाक्षेत्राला एकदम सुगीचे दिवस आले. पं. अण्णासाहेब गुंजकरांनी या भागात पं. पलुस्करांचे अनुयायित्व पत्करून संगीताचा प्रसार केला, इतिहासाचार्य वि. अ. कानोले यांनी इतिहास संशोधन मंडळाचा पाया घालून तेथल्या प्राचीन संस्कृतीचा शोध घेतला, दे. ल. महाजन यांनी साहित्य चळवळीचा पाया घातला तर गुरुवारीच दिवंगत झालेल्या त्र्यंबक वसेकर यांनी मराठवाड्याला चित्रकला शिकवली.

वसेकरांना चित्रकलेचा वारसा आजोबांकडून मिळाला. त्या बळावर त्यांनी चित्रकला शिक्षकाची नोकरी केली; परंतु चित्रकलेला शास्त्रीय शिक्षणाची जोड देण्याची आवश्यकता वाटल्यामुळे वसेकर हैदराबादच्या आर्ट स्कूलमध्ये दाखल झाले व तेथून त्यांनी जी. डी. आर्टस्ची पदवी मिळवली. त्यानंतर स्वामी रामानंद तीर्थ यांच्या अंबेजोगाई येथील जोगेश्वरी महाविद्यालयात चित्रकला शिक्षकाची नोकरी करीत त्यांनी मदास हायर डिप्लेमा हा चित्रकलेचा उच्च अभ्यासक्रम पूर्ण केला. पण शाळेत मुलांना निव्वळ चित्रकला शिकवून मराठवाड्यातील समाजात चित्रकलेला मानाचे स्थान प्राप्त होणार नाही हे ते ओळखून ते नांदेडला आले व प्राथमिक चाचपणीनंतर त्यांनी १९५५ साली तेथे अभिनव चित्रशाळेची स्थापना केली.

बघताबघता या चित्रशाळेने चित्रकला विद्यापीठाचे स्वरूप धारण केले. या चित्रशाळेतून चित्रकलेचे शिक्षण घेऊन तयार झालेले हजारो शिक्षक नंतर संपूर्ण मराठवाड्यात पसरले व त्यांनी वेगवेगळ्या भागांतील शाळांतून चित्रकला शिकविण्यास प्रारंभ केला. नंतर या चित्रकलेच्या शिक्षणाला प्रमाणित करण्यासाठी अभिनव चित्रशाळेने पहिलीपासून दहावीपर्यंतच्या मुलांसाठी चित्रकलेच्या वेगवेगळ्या पातळीवरील परीक्षा घेतल्या. या परीक्षेत उत्तीर्ण होणाऱ्यांना पदव्या व प्रमाणपत्रे देण्याचा उपक्रम अभिनव चित्रशाळेने सुरू केला.

आज मुंबईत जे। जे. स्कूल ऑफ आर्टस्चे जे काम आहे, त्याच तोडीचे काम मराठवाड्यात वसेकरांच्या अभिनव चित्रशाळेने केले. सध्या या चित्रशाळेच्या परीक्षांना महाराष्ट्र, गोवा, कर्नाटक व आंध्र प्रदेशातील लाखावर विद्याथीर् बसतात. वसेकर हे १९६० ते ७९ या काळात महाराष्ट्र कला शिक्षण मंडळाचे सल्लागार सदस्यही होते. चित्रकलेबरोबर उत्कृष्ट साहित्य निमिर्तीही त्यांनी केली आहे. त्यांच्या साहित्यकलेचा वारसा सध्या त्यांची नात कविता महाजन चालवत आहे. वसेकर आता आपल्यातून निघून गेले असले, तरी त्यांनी दिलेला चित्रकलेचा वारसा मराठवाड्यात दीर्घकाळ टिकून राहील इतके चित्रकार त्यांनी निर्माण केले आहेत
(आभार : महाराष्ट्र-टाईम्स संपादकीय विभाग)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

हरितक्रांतीचे अर्ध्वयू - डॉ. नॉर्मन बोर्लोग

हरितक्रांतीचे अर्ध्वयू डॉ. नॉर्मन बोर्लोग यांचे नुकतेच निधन झाले. हरितक्रांतीनंतर चाळीस वर्षांनी का होईना, पण भारत सरकारने पद्म पुरस्कार देऊन त्यांचा गौरव केला होता! (एवढा वेळ हरितक्रांतीला लागला असता तर ?)
लहानगा नॉर्मन दुष्काळग्रस्त नॉर्वेतून आई-वडिलांसोबत अमेरिकेत निर्वासित म्हणून आला आणि त्यापुढील त्याचा प्रवास म्हणजे जागतिक कृषीक्षेत्रातील एक दंतकथाच आहे. १९७० साली हाच नॉर्वेजिअन निर्वासित नोबेल पुरस्कार स्वीकारण्यासाठी ओस्लोत हजर होता, हा एक विलक्षण योगायोग.
Dupont या प्रथितयश कंपनीतील नोकरी सोडून डॉ. बोर्लोग १९४४ साली मेक्सिकोत आले आणि पुढील दहा वर्षात अथक परिश्रमाने त्यांनी मेक्सिकोला गहू-उत्पादनात स्वयंपूर्ण केले. त्यानंतर त्यांनी मागे वळून पाहिलेच नाही. केवळ अमेरिका खंडच नव्हे तर आफ्रिका आणि आशियालाही त्यांच्या मुलभूत संशोधनाचा फायदा झाला. हरितक्रांतीच्या काळात केवळ पाच वर्षात भारताने गहू-उत्पादनात क्रांतिकारक मजल मारली.
आज जगाची लोकसंख्या प्रचंड दराने वाढत असताना डॉ. नॉर्मन बोर्लोग यांचाकडून प्रेरणा घेऊन अधिक संशोधनाची नितांत आवश्यकता आहे. हीच त्यांना खरी श्रद्धांजली ठरेल.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

थोडे EP विषयी

Evolutionary Psychology (EP) हा माझा एक जिव्हाळ्याचा विषय ( मराठीत काय म्हणतात? 'उत्क्रांती मानसशास्त्र'? जाणकारांनी प्रकाश टाकावा.) बऱ्याच वर्षांपूर्वी एका मित्राने Desmond Morris ची ओळख करून दिल्यानंतर त्याच्या 'Naked Ape' आणि 'Intimate Behavior' आदी पुस्तकांची पारायणे झाली. यथावकाश Richard Dawkins, Jared Diamond या दिग्गजांचीही ओळख झाली. त्या सर्वांविषयी सविस्तर नन्तर लिहीन. हल्लीच Geoffrey Miller चे The Mating Mind वाचण्यात आले. मिलेरने अगदी ओघवत्या भाषेत संगीत, साहित्यादी कला यांची उत्क्रांती, जडण-घडण यांचा मानवीय लैंगिकतेशी सांगड घालण्याचा सुंदर प्रयत्न केला आहे. या मानवीय सांस्कृतिक अंगांना तो ' Fitness Indicators' असा शब्द वापरतो. मोरासाठी त्याचा पिसारा जसा Fitness Indicator तसेच काहीसे. मानवी मेंदूच्या सांस्कृतिक उत्क्रांतीमागे Natural Selective Pressures किंवा Survival Instrict पेक्षा Sexual Instict कसे कारणीभूत आहे, हे मिलेरने दाखवून दिले आहे.