– Article by Sheetal Sohoni.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” -Mahatma Gandhi
Social entrepreneur Deepak Gadhia from Solar Cookers International, Gujarat has imbibed this philosophy as a mantra of his life. I got a chance to interact with Deepak during the IUCEE Annual Leadership Summit in Goa. Deepak is an affable person with lots of enthusiasm towards life and his fellow beings. He is a people’s man and is genuinely interested in knowing and helping others. I had a great time chatting with him. Our talk was sprinkled with anecdotes from his life journey, which I am sure will influence and encourage all of us.
Deepak was born and raised in Mumbai, Maharashtra. As any youngster, Deepak was confused about selecting a career path. According to him, “one thing that I was clear about was, “I didn’t want to be known as my father’s son, and I wanted to carve my own path and journey.” This thirst to create and establish his own identity took Deepak to Germany, where he did his undergraduate in engineering. Germany helped in bringing Deepak close to his own motherland India. According to Deepak, he was a foreigner in his own country (India), and a stay in a foreign land (Germany) made him realize the rich value system of India and made him truly an Indian. Another thing that stuck to Deepak during his voyage to other countries was that technology can be a tool but not an end to any problems.
One thing that struck me the most about Deepak is his ability to identify obstacles as an opportunity to make improvements. When I asked him this, he said that, he realized quite early in his life, that life does not go as we plan it, and you have to be ready to improvise and adjust to every new change and obstacle. This not only prepares you for the worst but helps you in coming up with creative solutions too. He has used this philosophy in advancing and modifying solar energy as per the need of his clients. The journey that started by providing effective and efficient solar cookers to ladies living in remote villages of Gujarat has now reached to big institutions and religious establishments like Tata Energy Research Institute, Tirupati Temple Kitchen, and Shirdi Sai Temple Kitchen.
Apart from his business ventures, Deepak is also involved in Mooni Seva Ashram, Vadodara, Gujarat as the organization’s trustee. He is actively involved in making the ashram self-sustainable, and using renewable energy for the ashram’s day to day functioning. When asked if the venture is scalable to city or national level, Deepak suggested that this is absolutely doable, and there are many systems in place that can help in expanding this to national level. He gave an example of the ashram, which supports around 600-1000 lives through solar energy and other sustainable practices. Deepak further added that if we want to expand our circle of influence, we just need to be more open about sharing and connecting with other people.
When asked to comment on employability issues of engineering graduates and how this can be resolved, Deepak said that IUCEE can play a very important role by promoting effective teaching techniques, and by creating an environment for hands on experiences for engineering students. Secondly, he stressed on creating awareness among students regarding the importance of becoming job creators rather than becoming job seekers. He also suggested students to come up with solutions that are need based rather than solutions that appeal to them just for their novelty. A lot of research needs to be done before proposing a solution, and a prototype is not enough to start a new venture. Students need to learn about marketing and project management. He also stressed on the importance of interdisciplinary education and teamwork.
When asked about one advice that he would like to give to young engineers or professionals, Deepak stressed on the importance of 3Ps: Passion, Perseverance and Professionalism in our lives. These three qualities are essential and should be cultivated by all students and professionals. He also requested students not to believe in anything and everything that is forwarded or passed on to them. He emphasized the importance of having an open mind. He explains it through a quote, “mind is like a parachute, it works best when it is open.” He ended his advice with an urge to students to keep learning with an open mind and stay focused.
Deepak has lived a life that people think is impossible. He kept on challenging himself to bring in change in society and the country. He follows all the advices that he give to others. His life is a great example for young professionals and students to follow and learn from. IUCEE team extends our best wishes to Deepak Gadhia for his extraordinary work!