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Mar 31, 2004
The incredible Dr Shripad Dabholkar

Dabholkar, born in 1925, is a man of many more parts. He was an educator with many original ideas in teaching. He had built a profitable business, running a network of several teaching centres. But he lost interest in educating urban classes and wound up his business. He turned to rural education but soon realised that in rural India livelihood issues mattered more than education. And that brought him to the twin passions of his childhood—growing plants and experimenting with ideas.

Shourie cannot resist mocking ‘revolutionaries’ who rile against ‘lackeys of imperialism’, ‘comprador classes’ and ‘agents of bourgeoisie’. He says these have a mass base in press clubs whereas the Dabholkars of India are true revolutionaries, for whom the press has little time.

Shourie’s article does some justice to the man. Dr Dabholkar deserves a full-length biography.

GoodNewsIndia deems it an honour to have unearthed an exhaustive lecture Dr Dabholkar gave in 2001. Entitled “Prosperity with Equity”, it gives several insights into the mind of this creative man. He also details at some length his ideas on many subjects.

On his approach to horticulture, savour this: “upon reading in some popular science book, that pumpkins have two types of flowers and some tribals in Madagascar put powder from a part inside one type of flower, to the other type of [smaller] flower when it opens, I discovered my breakthrough to get fruits!  So although I was not aware of the real scientific principles of vegetative and reproductive growth patterns in banana nor about the process of pollination in vine crops, I was very near to hitting the cause and effect relations.”

That’s but one of the many anecdotes and usable ideas, you will find in the lecture. It’s a long piece. Do take some time to read through. You will be rewarded.

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