Small is beautiful
Lalit Chordia, founder, Thar Technologies Inc., was selected by the U.S. Government as Small Business Exporter of the Year (2002). A profile.
THEY GO places from the land of their origin and do great things with their lives the instances are many, and Lalit Chordia is one of them. A graduate from the IIT, Chennai and a Ph.D from the Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, he was recently selected as Small Business Exporter of the Year (2002) by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The SBA is a U.S. Government body, reporting directly to the President of America. And this is the first time an Indian, in fact an Asian, has received such an award in the U.S.
The award carries a grant of $ 2 million given by the NIST, a division of the Department of Commerce, to develop a micro-refrigeration technology that uses carbon dioxide as a refrigerant instead of fluorocarbons (which destroy the ozone layer). This has tremendous application in computers and portable cooling, and brings significant benefit to Indian users. And some of the research work will be done in Chennai.
Recently in Chennai, Lalit Chordia, founder, Thar Technologies Inc., said his company, which started off with just one employee, now had four distinct yet complementary divisions. Though `small', Thar had acquired international stature and earned a reputation as being a leader in supercritical fluid technology, used in the pharmaceutical, food and chemical industries.
Chordia said he tried not to use the word supercritical too much because it sounded like something nuclear. "What we do is take carbon dioxide, which is non-toxic, odourless, tasteless and non-flammable, and pressurise it to make a liquid. This is then used as a solvent.
"In the food industry, this process is used for extraction purposes. The high pressure decaffeinates coffee without using carcinogens. Thar also makes nano particles for pharmaceutical purposes. These are substances so small that they are able to pass through human tissue, carrying medicines for targeted treatments.
His company exports to a number of countries from China to Chile, Malaysia to Macedonia and Sweden to South Africa. The supercritical process makes Thar cost competitive when compared to Chinese companies.
"I believe in exports because by focussing on that Thar is not affected by the ups and downs of the U.S. market," said Chordia
The company has seen exports rise from six per cent of sales in 1997 to 48 per cent in 2001, with the figures expected to reach 50 per cent in 2002. Chordia also serves on the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, the Leadership Council and the District Export Council. The U.S. Secretary of Commerce, under the authority of the President, directly appoints district export council members. Chordia is founder of the U.S-India Forum, which promotes business and political cooperation between the U.S and India and as an adjunct research scientist at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University.
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