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Puran Dang Gets Distinguished Service Award

Ranjani Saigal

IITSINE, the Indian Institute of Technology Alumni Association in New England awarded its founder the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his yeomen service to the organization on Friday November 14, 2008 at the Bamboo restaurant in Bedford, MA 01730 when IITSINE held its annual Keynote Series talk. The event was completely sold out.

 “I am truly honored and touched to receive this award” said Dang who has worked hard to keep up the momentum for the organization. The award by presented to him by the State Treasure Timothy Cahill who took time out of his busy schedule to be present at the event. Dang was joined by his wife Kamlesh, daughter Rachna, Son-in-law Anupendra and his grandchildren at the podium as he came up to receive the award. "It is an honor for me to be here and present this award to Puran Dang" said Timothy Cahill.

“This year we are beginning a new tradition of having an annual Keynote Series address where we present outstanding speakers. This year it is our honor to have Dr. Ashok Khosla whose organization Development Alternatives has used technology to impact the lives of the underprivileged” said Ravi Rastogi, the President of IITSINE.

Ashok Khosla was recently elected President of the prestigious International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). He also was awarded the Order of the British Empire.  Earlier, he was Director of Office of Environment, Government of India, and Director, Infoterra in the United Nations Environment Program. Ashok Khosla studied at the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He was awarded the Stockholm Challenge Award in 2002, the UN Sasakawa Environment Prize in 2002 (considered the Nobel Prize in Environment) and the Schwab Foundation's Award for Outstanding Social Entrepreneur in 2004.

The topic he chose for the evening was “The Future of Business and Business of the Future” where he spoke about sustainability from multiple dimensions. “The global economy has worked on creating a lot of rewards for many investors. Unfortunately all around the world this has helped the rich get richer but left the poor with less. The economy is like a Champagne glass with a wide rim. This causes the poor to adopt desperate means for survival. Terrorism is one of the results” said Dr. Khosla.  His words seemed almost prophetic as just a month later Mumbai encountered one of the worst terror attacks.

“Investors look for 30 -40% on their investment. This is unsustainable because nature can only increase its bounty at 3-4%. Thus the business model currently eschewed by investors is bound to bring inequities” said Khosla.
Khosla’s work at Development Alternatives has been helping break the conventional business and technology models. They have created technologies and solutions that provide products that are eco-friendly and provide opportunities for the rural poor to lift themselves out of poverty and illiteracy.

“Our building in New Delhi is built using technology that mimics a termite hill and hence we do not have air conditioners in the building. Our building does not go over 20 -25 degree centigrade even when the outside temperature is 40 deg C.  “We have installed check dams in rural areas to address the constant flood and drought problems in those areas”

“TARAhaat is one of our flagship ventures that use information and communication technology to bring a range of services to the  villages . TARAakshar is a e-literacy program that guarantees literacy training in just 30 days” .For the people in the audience the speech was truly inspirational.  

Kumkum Mathur brought a special touch to the evening with her singing of birthday songs to celebrate the birthday of Mr. Puran Dang.

For executive committee members of IITSINE, Manju Aggarwal, Atul Gupta, Anil Saigal, P.A. Balasubramanium, Ravi Rastogi, Raj Laad and Dilip Subramanium it was heartening to have the first keynote address of the year be a success.

For more on IITSINE please check out http://www.iitsine.org
For more on Tarahaat please check out http://www.tarahaat.com
For more on Taraakshar please check out http://www.taraakshar.com

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