Visit to Tagore’s Shantiniketan

By Geeny George Shaju, Communications and Programme Manager, RCUK India.

Team from IIT-M, explaining the project

Team from IIT-M, explaining the project

Soon after the RCUK Impact event in Kolkata, I along with Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India travelled to Visva-Bharati University, Shantiniketan to attend the final review meeting for an UK-India research project – Biomass and Concentrating Photovoltaic System for Rural and Urban Energy Bridge. Read more

Beginning in 2011, this four year project is part of the UK-India Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide (BURD) programme, funded by the RCUK Energy and Digital Economy programmes, and by the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST).

University of Nottingham, University of Exeter and University of Leeds are the leading UK collaborators, and on the Indian side led by Visva-Bharati University and Indian Institute of Technology – Madras and Bombay.

The aim of the project was to develop new sustainable hybrid energy systems, integrating photovoltaic technology into biomass and waste power generations to create a low cost power system that could be managed and maintained by rural communities.

Group photo of researchers, students and funders

Group photo of researchers, students and funders

On arrival we were taken to the project site, which is a place close to the university campus and a Santhal (tribal village), with over 80 households. Researchers and students working on this project explained the functionality of the project and how the BioCPV was providing electricity to the village community.

After the site visit, research teams and funders congregated to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of this project. A key outcome of this joint project has been to provide reliable electricity to the rural households, school, community and even the local medical centre. This has enabled improved facilities for education and health, an improved lifestyle and a reduction in greenhouse emission, improving overall sustainability within the village.

MoU being handed over

MoU being handed over

The highlight of the meeting was handing over of the management of the BioCPV to the village community through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This agreement is very important as it gives the community ownership and empowers them for a better tomorrow. It also demonstrates that new sustainable technologies can be designed to be accessible and maintainable by local communities, something which is incredibly important for ‘off grid’ settlements.

Tagore’s Shantiniketan, (which means ‘abode of peace’) is known as a centre of knowledge and creativity. This visit was a perfect illustration of joint knowledge, creativity and more.

See more pictures from the visit here.

RCUK India ‘Impact’ event in the City of Joy – Kolkata

By Geeny George Shaju, RCUK India Communications and Programme Manager.

RCUK India hosted a series of research and innovation roadshows across several research intensive cities in India, one of them in Kolkata, West Bengal.

(L-R): Sukanya Kumar-Sinha; Geeny George Shaju; Dr Nafees Meah from RCUK India, Mr Scott Furssedonn-Wood, British Deputy High Commission; Ms Reena Venkatraman Additional Chief Secretary DST; Mr Aloke Mookherjea Chairman Innovation Taskforce CII (EA) and Prof Anuradha Lohia VC Presidency University

Attendees at the impact event.

Kolkata is one of the four metropolitan cities in India, and the only one that I had not visited, so I was all zest up for this. Coincidentally the entire city of Kolkata was also excited, oh not for the event (so I wish) but for a WT20 cricket match between India and Pakistan also in Kolkata.

The impact event was organised in partnership with the British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata, with an aim to showcase the UK-India research partnership and its impact. Kolkata has many top universities, research and engineering institutes, and there are five existing UK-India research projects running in West Bengal. This event was step forward to tell people about our research partnerships and build new networks at the state level.

There was an excellent attendance by academics, senior policy makers, industrial leads, local press. Key panel members at the event were Mr Scott Furssedonn-Wood, British Deputy High Commissioner, Kolkata; Ms Reena Venkatraman, Additional Chief Secretary DST; Mr Aloke Mookherjea, Chairman Innovation Taskforce CII (EA) and Prof Anuradha Lohia, Vice-Chancellor Presidency University.

Each of the panel members shared their views on international research, and how it is best delivered when in partnership. Prof Lohia, emphasised the need to incorporate multi-disciplinary approach and enhance funding to research in humanities and social sciences.

Famous (Hindustan Ambassador taxis in its bright yellow

Famous (Hindustan Ambassador) taxis in its bright yellow

The city of Kolkata is well known for its quest for knowledge and passion for learning. Panel members and guests were overwhelmed by the areas of research covered by the UK-India partnership, how it is striving to INSPIRE CHANGE. I was delighted that the event was a success and my first visit wants me to come back soon to this amazing city. And joining my happiness was the entire city, celebrating India’s win in the cricket match!