Dr Pradhan: The bird flu man
HE IS polite, down to-earth and fiercely patriot. But this man, ironically, is responsible for killing of millions of chickens in India. Governments dread his pronouncements. Poultry men pray he never said yes to any test he is supposed to conduct. And the tests are too many these days for him to handle. Meet Dr Hare Krishna Pradhan, the bird flu man.india Updated: Apr 02, 2006 00:47 IST
HE IS polite, down to-earth and fiercely patriot. But this man, ironically, is responsible for killing of millions of chickens in India. Governments dread his pronouncements. Poultry men pray he never said yes to any test he is supposed to conduct. And the tests are too many these days for him to handle. Meet Dr Hare Krishna Pradhan, the bird flu man.
By now it is quite familiar name, thanks to the bird flu scare. Dr H K Pradhan is joint director in-charge of the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL)– the only laboratory in the country with the capability of conducting diagnostic tests on bird flu virus.
Though a workaholic, the endless entries of samples for bird flu tests are keeping him glued to the lab rather too much. Still, the Hindustan Times caught up with him in midst of hectic schedule to know Dr Pradhan.
Born in a poor teacher’s family in a small village in Orissa (Khajuri Pada in Khandmal district) and one of nine siblings, Dr Pradhan completed his studies right from primary till his Ph D (in veterinary pathology) with support of scholarships. What has kept him inspired throughout was one tough lesson he learnt from his father.
“Once my father, who was also my class teacher, kicked me when he found me trying to copy from my classmate’s copy during an exam. I got a broken teeth and lesson for life,’’ Dr Pradhan wistfully reminisces.
He owes his choice of career in veterinary science to his teacher G C Mohanty who had said it did not matter what subject one studied. One could still make a mark if one excelled in the chosen subject.
The list of Dr Pradhan’s scientific contributions is endless. He is probably the only scientist in field of veterinary science whose research papers have been included in the textbooks referred worldwide, although he has worked only in India. He has published 103 scientific papers of which 18 are in foreign journals.
He has delivered several lectures across India. Setting up the HSADL is his biggest achievement in life. It was this achievement that prompted President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, who was then the advisor to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), to offer Dr Pradhan consultancy job to set up an animal disease lab at Gwalior under the DRDO.
Quest for best has kept Dr Pradhan busy so much so that he sometimes rues having deprived the family (wife Krishnapriya, a son and a daughter) the kind of quality time they deserve from him. This quest also made him give up many jobs. He refused offers from American agencies just because he wanted to serve his country. Dr Pradhan instilled the similar patriotic zeal in his son who completed his higher study in France.
Dr Pradhan’s dream is to set up a laboratory to deal with bio-terrorism threat, which he foresees as harsh reality in the world.
And his inspiration? “Gaata rahe mera dil. Tu hi meri manzil..” Yes, the all time great duet of Kishore –Lata of ‘Guide’ continues to inspire and entertain him even now. The man who dreams of fighting bio-terrorism is romantic enough to love this song too.