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‘Our family was free minded’, Dattaprasad Dabholkar


Scientist and author, Dattaprasad Dabholkar spoke about his family and his works in different fields at an event organised by Dakshinayan Abhiyan at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao

Dabholkar was in conversation with author Datta Damodar Naik and began by talking about his family. He mentioned that each of them, ten siblings are different. Speaking about his parents he told the audience about their father, Achyut Dabholkar who belonged to a very poor family, but somehow got himself educated and worked as a lawyer in the Indian Army at Satara, a devotee of Lord Datta. His mother, Tarabhai studied only till standard four was intelligent and topped her class. After getting married, she did not follow the traditional customs and didn’t even wear mangalsutra, leave aside gold ornaments.

He says that although his father and mother were poles apart they understood each other well. “Our family was free minded,” said Dabholkar.

“Through those experiences, all my siblings learnt that a person who truly understands religion and spirituality will adjust well with someone who is not of the same belief. He will respect other’s opinion and way of living, and wouldn’t force others to change their opinions,” he said. His eldest brother Devdatta stood first in the metric examination in Mumbai. While, he and his brother Narendra wouldn’t study at all.

However, his parents never forced them to study and allowed them to play as they wished. “We were given all the freedom while growing up,” said Dabholkar.

Dabholkar mentioned that being a scientist he also writes research papers. He wanted to stay in India and felt that India was in need of science and research. In 1962, he joined a Swiss pharmaceutical company,.After working there for a few years, Dabholkar left the company for he realised that he was wasn’t working for his own country.

Speaking about genetically modified seeds, Dabholkar said that he is not against such seeds, however, there is need to understand how farmers will get affected by the use of it and what could be the consequences if they don’t find such genetically modified seeds later.

“In 1987-88 the Narmada river project came to light. When I was about to write my book ‘Samagra Maate Narmada,’” Dabholkar mentioned that he went on leave and met several people in authority, activists, and people involved in the project. He researched a lot for this book and, it is because of this book that people now recognise him as an activist too.

When asked about his opinion on the usage of chemicals in food today, he said science cannot do anything about it other than finding out about the chemical used and how it can affect people. “The irony of this country is that if you are caught bribing, you bribe to escape. It is only the people who can change what they eat and how they eat it. They should go against the flow and decide not to use chemicals. They should not think of earning more but concentrate on the aspects of good health,” said Dabholkar.

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