Ravinder Kalra has worked in the hydro sector for the past 13 years. Before that, he enjoyed a distinguished career as a marine engineer with the Indian Navy for 21 years, during which time he won not just one but two commendations from the chief of naval staff and the director, General Quality Assurance Organisation. The first commendation was for his meritorious work and devotion to duty as chief engineer of rescue vessels and the second was for his work in improving quality assurance in the navy’s procurements.
Kalra left the navy in pursuit of more innovative work. “The more senior you become, the more you are posted at the headquarters with administrative work instead of being in the thick of action. I began to miss the action because I’ve always sought to do new things. It seemed a natural corollary to switch to hydropower in the private sector,” he says.
At present, he is working with Voith Hydro, where he has been spearheading the company’s expansion into Southeast Asia and Africa in recent years. Kalra looks afte 350 personnel working on large and small hydro plants. Given the difficult environment in many of the countries where they work, the company takes pains to ensure that their working conditions and commute are safe.
On the way to the office (in Noida), he reads the papers, catches up with emails, listens to retro Hindi songs and reads management literature. Kalra’s energy levels are high and he likes to keep his body in good condition. Wherever he goes in the world, he packs his trainers and swimming gear. His solution for stress is simple: “Go for a run.”
Every day for Kalra begins with a long commute because home is in Faridabad, where he lives with his family, including his parents, with whom he spends some time every evening. His wife, Trimesh, is an economics lecturer, his son Pranjal works with Bain & Company and his daughter Priyal is finishing her degree at Delhi University.
Kalra is eagerly waiting for the government’s new hydro policy. He says the categorisation of all hydropower as renewable (projects of more than 25 MW capacity) will go a long way in reducing the cost of hydropower. Simplification of the various clearances required for hydro plants will also be welcome. “The way I see it, we need to tackle energy poverty the same way we tackle poverty – with focus and determination,” he says.