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Hoshang C Patel Knowledge and Learning Centre

On March 10 2014, Thrive Solar commenced production and dispatches from Thrive House, its new 28,000sft building with solar panel manufacture and light assembly on three floors and an office and training centre cum library on 2nd floor. 
 
On March 12 Thrive inaugurated its Hoshang C Patel Knowledge Centre, named to honour a courageous and far-sighted techno-entrepreneur who produced India's first 4 single crystal silicon wafer on 28 January 1983 in Siltronics India Ltd, promoted by Grindwell Norton Ltd. It was one of many sophisticated new technologies he brought to India as Grindwells visionary Project Manager, such as silicon carbide furnacing and grain production at Bangalore in 1972, the fourth country after Canada, Norway and Japan to produce it, and later also at Renigunta in 1979-80. Other manufacturing firsts for India were microgrit abrasives in 1976, Lincolns centralised lubrication systems and Nortons high-performance refractories. All this was doubly difficult in a licence-permit raj climate where getting a landline phone connection or a car took several years.
 
Hoshang was the only child of Gool and Dr Cooverji Patel, a popular physician in the Dang forests and later in Mumbai. After a BSc in Mumbai, Hoshang did a double Masters in Chemical Engineering and Metallurgy at Ann Arbor Michigan in 1958. There his lifelong love of computers made him chief trouble-shooter for the new room-sized mainframe computer at Babcock & Wilcox, where he worked for two years before returning to India and a factory job with Tata Chemicals Ltd at Mithapur. In 1962 he married Almitra Sidhwa, India's first female engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 
 
Almitras father Pheroze Sidhwa and cousin Rustom Sidhwa were themselves pioneering serial entrepreneurs from 1922, starting several swadeshi industries to make India self-reliant: Bharat Tiles & Marble for patterned cement flooring tiles, Grindwell Ltd for abrasives, plus the precursors of today's Metal Box Co, Hindustan Ferodo and TIPCO ltd. They also pioneered the sawing of granite slabs and production of rock-wool. 
 
Hoshang and family moved permanently to Kothanur Village on the outskirts of Bangalore in 1972. He retired from Grindwell Norton Ltd as its Managing Director in 1991, then joined Gharda Chemicals Ltd to help Dr Keki Gharda, his longtime friend from Ann Arbor who is an internationally-acclaimed chemical engineering genius with dozens of innovation to his credit. Hoshang worked as part-time working Director with Gharda Chemicals till a year before his death on 22 December 2008. Here too his calm, supportive and encouraging management style made him much loved and sought as mentor by all who knew him. From 1979 onwards he built 7 schools in Kothanur and elsewhere in Bangalore, in Pheroze Sidhwas birthplace Mora and at Kaprada in Dangs. 
 
Thrive Solar plans to emulate and nurture both his creativity and his management skills and his commitment to education through its weekly training programs for associates and customers at the Hoshang C Patel Knowledge Centre in Hyderabad. 
 

Slideshow: Inauguration ceremony

 

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