Dr. Kalbag : A Karmayogi,
Founder Director of Vigyan Ashram
Dr.Shrinath Kalbag was born on 23rd October 1928, a Dasara day . He was the youngest sibling, amongst children of Shesgiri Naryan Kalbag, founder of Popular Pharmacy in Mumbai
He had scientific bent of mind even in his school days. He conducted various experiments at home, such as preparing soap, bleaching clothes with Potassium Permanganate, Acid Hydrochloride (commercial) and Trisodium Phosphates and also in the line of printing. During his college days he conducted classes at Parle Products for the workers to make them aware of their rights and responsibilities and literacy. He did his schooling at Robert Money and B.Sc. from Royal Institute of Science, Bombay and M.Sc.Tech. in Oils & Fats from UDCT, Mumbai in the year 1952. He proceeded to USA in 1953 to study at the University of Illinois, Chicago, for his Ph. D. in Food Technology under Prof. Kumaroe. During his 2 years residence in Chicago, he used to spend weekends at Ranches in nearby rural areas to see and study the life of rural folks, especially of the farmers there. He saw the farmers there using science and technology not only in agriculture but also in general living. This observation was the seed for his later plan of starting “VIDNYAN ASHRAM” at Pabal in Pune Dist.
After getting his Ph. D., his professor urged him to continue and work in USA. with a Researcher’s post in one of the leading manufacturers of Glandular Preparation on a grand remuneration. But Shrinath insisted on returning to India at the earliest. He joined Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) at Mysore, as an Asstt. Scientific Research Officer in late 1955. He hoped to rise to higher levels by sincere hard work. He worked there until 1963.
He joined Hindustan Lever Research Center, Mumbai as head of the Engineering Sciences Department and worked until 1982. During this year he decided to take voluntary retirement and start working for his dream project of establishing an Ashram type institute to promote non-formal education for rural youths, especially school drop-outs.
His bosses at the research center appreciated his sincerity and offered all possible assistance in the project. He was relieved from the post but he was appointed “Scientist Emeritus”. After touring entire Maharashtra to select a rural town for his future project, he selected Pabal, Taluka Shirur in Pune District.. This is a rural town under “Rain Shadow” and always short of water supply. Dr. V.G.Kulkarni introduced him to Drs. J.P. and Chitra Naik of Indian Institute of Education (IIE). After studying the project report submitted by Dr. Kalbag they gave a green signal.
In 1983 he started “VIGYAN ASHRAM” in collaboration with I.I.E., Pune renting a big room of a defunct oil mill at Pabal and shifted his residence from Juhu, Mumbai to a Maharwada at Pabal. This was a deliberate step to set an example for local folks to forsake distinction of higher and lower castes.
After sometime, Govt. of Maharashtra donated some land for Vigyan Ashram on a barren hillock. Here a fairly big shed-like structure of brickwalls and galvanized sheet roof was built for office and workshop combined. Another similar structure for a mess (kitchen) was put up. Smaller ones were constructed for residential purposes. Over the years ashram made a significant contribution in the field of vocational education and reforming education system. A education system based on principle of Natural System Of Learning” is main innovation of Dr.Kalbag. All development at Vigyan Ashram are the fruits of that education system. Dr.Kalbag expired on 30th July 2003 while working on his computer due to cardiac arrest. In the best tradition of his selfless devotion for the cause of education his body was donated to Grant Medical College (JJ Hospital). His eyes were earlier removed as per his wish. In one of his interview Dr.Kalbag insists "We want our students to start their own enterprises in their villages and thus reduce the migration to cities. There are many, who have done that, and are running their industries successfully. But these are not my success stories, they are their own.
"My success story will be when the system runs without me".
Vigyan Ashram is working to prove success story of Dr.Kalbag as a tribute to him.
‘SELECTED ESSAYS OF DR.S.S.KALBAG on EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY & RURAL DEVELOPMENT’
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