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To Sir…with awe!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A recent conversation with Dr. Ramesh Madav and Ashok Jain, co-Founders of Terracon reminded me of the iconic movie in which Sidney Poitier immortalised the quintessential teacher that inspires and motivates his students. Our subsequent engagement revealed that the ‘teacher’ in Dr. Madav’s life - Professor Sharad Chaphekar went far beyond admiration to full fledged awe at his knowledge and commitment to his subject - Environment. Enough to fuel a four decade long personal and professional relationship.

Professor Sharad Chaphekar, an eminent botanist is well known and revered in the field of ecology. His contribution as an academician is recounted well by Dr. Madav, “Chaphekar is Guru not only to me but to the entire community of those students who made careers in ecology or wish to do so. His guidance and constructive suggestions over the last forty years has benefited everyone who came in his contact.”

Chaphekar has been faculty and head of botany department for the Pune University, Pondicherry University and Institute of Science. He has authored more than 80 publications and over 12 research reports on environment science. Chaphekar has been awarded with fellowships by many prestigious educational institutes and environmental organisations, including the National Institute of Ecology and the Academy of Environmental Biology. Chaphekar believed in not only sharing his knowledge with his countless students but applied it as well. The professor has been associated with a number of corporates, government institutes and environment bodies on various environment issues at a national level.

Chaphekar, trustee of the Environment and Biotechnology Foundation, a registered NGO continues his work as mentor and advisor to Terracon. To commemorate his achievements, a retrospective of his work will be exhibited at an event to be held on the November 25. The event coincides with his 75th birthday. A lifetime of diligent and passionate work will be showcased in various projects based on four central themes – Vegetation studies, Urban-Industrial ecosystem – Air pollution, Water pollution and land degradation. Photographs, films and his professional insights will be translated into case studies for the benefit of many.

Chaphekar, who is happy that environment issues have now become important to the corporate world adds, “This is not just my own work. There are many who have toiled alongside me over the years on this very arduous job. This will be an opportunity for me to also recognise and felicitate my co-workers.”

As a mark of respect, eminent scientist, Madhoolika Agrawal from the Department of Botany, Banaras Hindu University will travel from Varanasi especially for the event. Dr. Vijay Mehta, Vice Chancellor - Dr. Babasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dapoli will do the honours for the second session.

There are expected to be a fair mix of both academicians and corporate enthusiasts from across India for the conference. Students from a cross section of environment, rural and other institutions have been encouraged to attend the exhibition.

Dr. Madav, one of the few lucky students to have had the privilege of staying with Chaphekar while studying for his doctoral research in Pune says, “It was like ancient learning at Gurukul where he was not only a teacher to me but a source of inspiration and motivation. If, at some stage I would be recognised as practicing ecologist, it would be only because of him.” A worthy tribute to our Indian Poitier.

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