Perfectionist with a golden heart

There are some people who are lucky enough to find a vocation after their heart. There are some who put their heart into any vocation. P.R. Gupta (1930-2006), popularly known as PRG, belonged to the rare second breed. He was a perfectionist but with a golden heart. His aim in pursuing knowledge was to devise solutions which could be put into practice for the benefit of society, particularly the rural areas.

PRG helped illuminate the Indian livestock information and database situation with the planning and designing of two "yearbooks" in two specific areas of livestock production - poultry (1973) and dairying (1983). They were the rich fruit of his professional experience in the media. Each of them is a trendsetter and has been recognized as desktop, reference sourcebook unique not only in Asia but perhaps the whole world. The prestigious British journal, 'Dairy Industry Newsletter', in a review had noted: "Dairy India is probably the most comprehensive analysis published by any milk producing country in the world".

The two compendia are being used for techno-economic information on production, processing, marketing, education, extension and research as well as Buyer's Guide and Who's Who of over 7,000 organizations and specialists. They spread the good word about the vast and exciting opportunities in poultry and dairying. Entrepreneurs have set up businesses based on the market data culled from these books.

"My forte was the production and dissemination of technical information, and I made that my life's mission," PRG once confessed. Another achievement of his was tackling the technocrats and getting them to write in a simple style to reach out to the users.

PRG foresaw great future for Indian entrepreneurs in assembly line production of ethnic dairy products like shrikhand, gulabjamun, paneer, kulfi, mishti doi, dahi and lassi. He put in quality time to produce in 2002 the handbook on process technology modernization entitled Technology of Indian Milk Products, which has received rave reviews in the national and international media.

Born in 1930, PRG was brought up and educated in Bombay, having graduated from St Xavier's College in Science in 1952. After his first job with the Indian Express, he moved to Delhi in 1957 as the Publicity Officer of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) (1957-60); later as Information Officer, Bureau of Petroleum Information (1960-61); Editor, Burmah-Shell News (1961-62); and, Publication Section of the United States Information Service (USIS) (1964-75).

A little known aspect of his life was his pursuit of spirituality. A radio buff, he would get up at 4 am and listen to bhajans. Certain days were marked for meetings to discuss spiritual issues with selected friends. When he liked a certain book on spirituality, he would buy several copies and distribute to friends. He enjoyed quotations which he collected and used to surprise and entertain friends.

PRG is survived by his wife Shakuntala, two sons, a daughter and two grandchildren.