During his teaching days at IIT, Alok Sagar taught many students, including Raghuram Rajan and prepared them for challenges that lay ahead. But the most important lesson that he has imparted is his life and his service to the downtrodden.
For the past 32 years, this former IIT-D professor has been living Betul and Hoshangabad districts of Madhya Pradesh and working with the tribal population there.
A resident of New Delhi, Sagar did his bachelor in electrical engineering from the prestigious IIT Delhi and got his masters degree from the institute in 1973. He went on to complete his PhD at Houston University in Texas, US, before returning to India to become a professor at his alma mater.
In 1982, Sagar resigned as professor and began working with the tribals in Betul and Hoshangabad districts, helping save the environment and has planted more than 50,000 trees in Betul district. He works in close association with the Shramik Adiwasi Sangathan, Sagar works for the welfare of tribals.
He owns a mere set of three kurtas and rides a cycle to distribute seeds to farmers at reasonable rates.
He would have remained in the same state and would have faded into oblivion had it not been recent elections where unable to trace his background, the Betul district administration grew suspicious of Sagar and ordered him to leave, citing security reasons. It was only then that the former professor revealed his qualifications.
“Unlike the baseless fight over degrees of politicians, Sagar has set an example of being a true social worker,” said Anurag Modi, an activist who works with Sagar.