Dr. Vasudevan, The One who Brought Plastic to the Roads

It was an exciting morning for us, fellows of 12th standard in Jeevana. The Prefects Swearing-in ceremony has always been like that: nervous about the oath-taking, sitting still like a statue for an hour and even harder, managing to stay awake while some guy drones on about hard work and determination. But this time, it was truly inspiring... because we had the most inspiring chief guest ever - Dr. Vasudevan, a Dean of Thiagaraja College in Madurai, who had invented a process of using shredded plastic to lay roads which last for about 10 years. He wasn't just some absent-minded scientist working on formulas and stuff for application of chemistry. He was a... visionary, yup... that's the word for it. He is someone who dreams of India as more prosperous than it is now, someone who encourages innovation and environmental protection and someone who values humility and spirituality.

And boy is he talkative! It doesn't matter though, because his speech was either highly informative or inspiring.

This was the process he had patented for: Adding shredded plastic to molten tar at a high temperature, which will cause the former to melt, making the road water resistant and durable. By this, one can save 1 tonne of Bitumen coal and recycle 1 tonne of shredded plastic [about 10 lakh plastic bags]. He told us that civil engineers and contractors didn't welcome his idea much, because they earned their living with the help of inefficient and pot-holed roads. He had sold his patent to the Indian Government for free, despite having had private companies ready to pay him. [More info: Soma Basu's article in the Hindu about him]

He explained how ideas arise from the smallest of every-day things, how we have to just think different and also, how we have to contribute to the society and school. He then gave his formula for efficient leadership: Sincerity in your job and faith in God, along with conviction in your belief. These three are supposed to work miracles for people trying to make a difference in the society.

During our interactive session, one boy asked him if it was possible to make our roads white, so that it will help prevent global warming. He told us that that was the second question that Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam asked him. The first was about his 'namam', I think. He thus tried to explain how intelligence and knowledge are found everywhere and in everyone. But it is wisdom, innovation and application of knowledge that aren't, and also the most important.

He talked passionately about helping the society, about "Being Indian and Buying Indian", about India's development and such kind. When he suggested his ideas, someone asked him, "How come the Westerners or Japanese haven't thought about this? How can you invent something they haven't?" And he told us that he asked the person if he wasn't ashamed for raising a question of that sort. He expressed his view on how he thought Indians had the potential, the ideas, the everything that's required now. What they don't have is the inspiration and conviction.

Dr. Vasudevan seemed to be a complete human being, someone who knew the purpose of his life. He told us how he wanted to touch our hearts through our speech, so that it will make a difference.

By the end of his speech, two of my friends said they had almost teared up... Though I can't say I felt like it too... [I was a trifle annoyed when they said that,... I've never managed to cry for good, happy things... Like for the ending in Tare Zameen Par, when all my friends were with watery eyes, and mine were all dry and unemotional].

3 comments:

  1. HE is certainly a gem of a person!A complete human being.Also what really took me back is that he has narrated so many of his inventions and experiences but I didn't find a tinge of pride in it.
    Down to the earth!
    Yup i cried, almost a big tear was about to fall down,then i suddenly realized i was in the stage and i had to look up and on to prevent it falling.
    he really touched my heart.
    I know i was not emotional,the thing is when he said that for 3oo crores his plan was asked but he said "i give it freely to my country"
    that was when my eyes became moist.Now I realize that we had cried for India
    Still I could say that he has a good sense of humor too.He is the most inspiring chief guest we've ever had.Thanks to our school

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  2. He is really a role model ..... :)

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  3. what a great Indian role model...i wish i was there...i think he is real leader who came for jeevanites....

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