A First Generation Entrepreneur with a Noble Heart
- Dr Keki Gharda, Chairman and Managing Director, Gharda Chemicals Ltd

Dr Keki Gharda, Chairman and Managing Director, Gharda Chemicals Ltd, is one of the prolific personalities in the Indian chemical industry. He completed his Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan followed by a PhD. He taught Chemical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma and established Gharda Chemicals in 1967. Dr Gharda has a success story to inspire the world. He spoke to CEW about the critical issues such as zero waste generation, energy efficient processes and how the market scenario has evolved since he established Gharda Chemicals.

Dr Keki Gharda is a man who can be described by many words, a philosopher, an exceptional entrepreneur, a charitable individual to name a few. Dr Gharda’s career journey has been awe-inspiring to engineers. He began his career as an Assistant Professor, Process Design and Chemical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. He returned to India and was a visiting faculty at his alma mater before he established Gharda Chemicals. What began in a rented shed has turned into a successful venture with annual sales coming up to ` 17,500 million. The company has four l factories that meet world standards and has been a pioneer in the field of agrochemicals in India.

Green Chemistry and Waste Management
Gharda says that the concept of green chemistry did exist in the industry and the company had imbibed these practices in its manufacturing approach but earlier there was no specific focus on green chemistry or waste management as is the case today. In his opinion, zero waste management is a chimera. The process of waste management is a complicated one and involves a number of intricacies which have to be tackled for it to be a success. Commenting on the government’s role, he says that the government wants to state how determined it is to improve the status of the country. He says that clean technologies and energy efficient processes are the buzz words now.

When asked about his thoughts on India’s manufacturing potential, Gharda elucidates that the world opinion about India is rather shaky although it has been improving over the years. Today, India is considered as one of the leading economies. China and India started off around the same time about 30 years back but with determination China has reached greater heights.

Single Window Clearance
Gharda opines that approvals do not have any real value as they are not administered well. He adds that this issue can be tackled by having in place a single window clearance. This will not only benefit the manufacturing sector but the rest of the economy as it would increase the efficiency, timeliness of projects which would in turn make the venture a profitable one. Strict regulations and policies can be put in place on par with the international standards to ensure all aspects related to HSE, etc, are covered.

He points out further that government is there to facilitate the industry to strengthen and flourish but the industry must put in more effort as it would not be wise to only depend on the government. After all, the government or the ministers that consist of the government are chosen from among the people, from the same stock as that of the masses. Therefore, Gharda discourages total dependence on government bodies for improving the industry scenario.

R&D – The Source of Growth
Gharda explains that R&D and innovation has taken the company from small scale to the large establishment that it is today. Gharda Chemicals spends about 4 to 5 per cent of its total sales on R&D activities. The company undertakes research which leads to process intensification and cost efficient processes to make the business more profitable. It has won over 20 awards for its R&D efforts including one from the American Institute of Chemists. The company’s mission clearly Dr Keki Gharda, Chairman and Managing Director, Gharda Chemicals Ltd, is one of the prolific personalities in the Indian chemical industry. He completed his Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan followed by a PhD. He taught Chemical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma and established Gharda Chemicals in 1967. Dr Gharda has a success story to inspire the world. He spoke to CEW about the critical issues such as zero waste generation, energy efficient processes and how the market scenario has evolved since he established Gharda Chemicals. Dr Keki Gharda states ‘our strength of innovation combined with ethical work practices is bound to bring the company accolades from time to time.’ A motto the company swears by is ’Generation of Wealth through research based chemical manufacturing for social needs.’

Improving the Neighbourhood through Deeds
Gharda is of the opinion that it is vital that a company should do its bit for its neighbourhood. He affirms that the company is not being generous and being paupers; on the contrary it is being generous and still thriving as a successful company. A small hospital has been set-up with about 10 beds inside every factory the company owns for its workers and their family members. Moreover, in every village or town where the factory is located, the company has built a 25 bed hospital. He has aided schools and colleges at the factory locations as well, and started an engineering college which has produced rank holders.

Dr Keki Gharda has not just established a successful business but has left a legacy that would continue to inspire generations to come.