What led you to the Lighting Industry?
In the year 1969, I passed my B.E Electrical (Hon.) from V.J.T.I. Mumbai University. I joined Crompton Greaves Ltd. (Crompton) in their maintenance department. Later joined their Value Engineering department, where there was set up of Silver Plating Plant for switchgear department. As per the trend in those days, I was to go to USA for my Masters in Systems Analysis in Miami University. My friends advised me that I should have Sales work experience for part time job to survive. Based on my request I was transferred to Lighting Division Sales in February, 1971. With my experience in factory I contributed in development of Super Gold Patti, which impressed the top management. They selected me out of 120 sales force to take up the assignment in Head office. Being head of my family at the age of 20, I took a hard decision – not to go to USA and pursue the career in India and decided to join Lighting Division Head office. In Crompton my Parsi boss S.F.Mehta who had just returned from U.K. pushed me to correspondence course on Lighting. Upon completion of same he asked me to appear for Full Certificate Course on Lighting from City & Guilds London, which I passed way back in 1973 and became the first qualified Lighting Educated person in India. This was the beginning of my journey of 45 years in lighting field.
What drove you to commence your own company?
In the year 1986, Philips decided to shift their Head Office to Kolkata and I decided to start my own as Lighting Systems Consultant from my small office in Andheri. At that time Philips was the only company, which was best fit for me as far as technical aspect on Light & Lighting. Going for a job in any other companies (4 major in those days) meant working for them to part with what all I learned. After certain age there is no growth possibility too in such organisations. Further being a Gujarati, business is in our blood. At that time, I had seen that most architects and interior designers were getting free designs from various lighting companies but were not happy when it came to architectural lighting. I felt it will be a niche market where people will be ready to pay and that’s it. I started my own consultancy and to the best of my knowledge became the first formally educated independent Lighting designer.
In last 25 years as formally educated , professional independent Lighting Designer & Educator successfully completed several projects, which included Siddhi Vinayak Temple in Mumbai, Swaminarayan Temple at Gandhi Nagar, Reliance Petroleum Main Gate at Jamnagar, Globus Bandra, a Bungalow with Lutron Control in Napeancy road, ABBY’s Palace in Pune with Dynalite Control, Asian Paint Signature Store in Bandra with Colour Kinetics USA using LED with Control, Yazoo Park in Virar with Wow effect of Water Body Lighting using Philips CK Underwater Lighting and so on. I guided many suppliers to design & develop Luminaires and accessories, assisted in import of Luminaires from Europe and Far East to market in India with value addition, etc. Many of these successful projects were possible with the help of my daughter Dolly who passed Interior Design Course from Rachna Sansad in year 2000 and turned to Lighting Designer attending several national & international Training courses. In fact, she was instrumental in assisting me in compiling both my books on Lighting with which in fact I was the first to write books on Lighting in India.
Q How has lighting industry evolved in the India?
When I joined Lighting Industry, it was all small scale industry manufacturing and marketing by large organisations. It was License Raj. The year 1973, was the beginning of Energy Crises and at that time while working with Crompton Greaves; I had the opportunity to introduce Polystyrene brackets for tube light holders, Industrial Stove enamelled reflector with 7% increase efficiency in fluorescent fitting, Non Yellowing Polystyrene based diffuser against Acrylic diffuser for cost reduction and so on. It was the era of Industrialisation and major buyer was government for Railways, Defense, Roads, CPWD and DGS&D departments and so on. I started my journey with GLS, Tube Light and Mercury vapour lamps.
In Philips era we had the opportunity to work with Halogen, High Pressure Sodium Vapour and Metal Halide lamps and associated Luminaires. In 1981, onward electronic ballast & chokes were introduced which was the beginning of Electronics in Lighting Industry.
As independent Lighting Designer, I started getting projects where FREE Designs were not available or not satisfactory from lighting companies. In the year 1991, with liberal policy import of Lighting Fittings was possible and at that time I had the opportunity to work with several reputed architects using products from European Companies like Zumobel, Reggiani , IGuzini, Simes, Agabekove, iltiluce, Space Cannon, many decorative brands from Murano and so on. From the year 2000 onward we introduced Lighting Control from Zumtobel, iGuzzini, Lutron, Dynalite, Berker B Tichino and many such brands in our projects.
Again from year 2000, the trend was changing to save money and Chinese products were introduced and that was the beginning of closing down of several small scale industries and manufacturing activities in India. Then in year 2002, coloured LEDs came and we used it in Shatranj restaurants at Bandra as marker light imported from UK. In 2004, white LEDs were introduced. This was the beginning of Semi Conductors in Lighting Industry. At that time, I realised that there is a need to upgrade the knowledge to remain leader in Lighting design Consultancy. I then learned about LED in the seminar conducted by LRC Troy in Seoul and visited for the first time LED packaging industry. In year 2005, I was invited in Singapore to make presentation of LED Lighting. We then started introducing LEDs in our several projects and at that time I had the opportunity to interact with several suppliers from abroad as well as visit their factories, interaction during Frankfurt & USA Lighting fairs and so on when I learned a lot about LEDs.
Now it is the era of LEDs and all the light sources will be vanished in coming years. There are several challenges for LED usage and is being resolved by the Industry in steps.
As on date with LED as a Light Source there are several Mashroom Companies doing trading activities, small value addition activities etc. but majority of products are all coming from China and our Lighting Industry has died as far as manufacturing is concerned. This is mainly because LED is not a standalone light source and OEMs have to have knowledge about electronics, Thermal & Optical management etc. with very sophisticated manufacturing equipment and quality control laboratory which is not easy for all small time OEMs.