Prof. Amulya Kumar N Reddy


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Amulya has played many roles -- cricketer, electrochemist, energy analyst, practitioner of rural energy, pioneer in appropriate technology, spokesman for sustainable development, campaigner against nuclear energy for power and/or weapons and respected teacher.

In 1973, at the age of 43, after an 18-year-long career in electrochemistry (when he could start from "zero" and derive any one equation in the two volumes of the text-book “Modern Electrochemistry”), Amulya decided to quit the subject. He decided to burn his bridges with electrochemistry and set up the center called Application of Science & Technology to Rural Areas (ASTRA) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). 

“India was a dual society with ... islands of elite affluence amidst vast oceans of poverty of the masses ...", this poverty was primarily due to inadequate income-generating employment in the rural countryside and employment would not come from capital-intensive industrialization.  I attacked Indian science and technology for firmly allying itself with the elitist pattern of industrialization and demanded that it should devote itself to the generation of an alternative pattern of capital-saving labour-intensive technologies of relevance to the rural poor”. From ‘Choice of Alternative Technologies’, Amulya 1973)

Looking back over 32 years, one sees that Amulya has played a key role in innovative initiatives, which have far-reaching impact and high potential.

·         Ø      Insisting that Science & Technology must be focused on local development needs.

Ø      Giving flesh and blood to rural energy systems.

Ø      Developing an alternative paradigm that suited “Technology for Sustainable Development”  

Ø      Applying the DEFENDUS paradigm to areas like power sector planning, rural energy systems, demand side management and transport.

Ø      Highlighting gender issues in energy.

Ø      Most importantly, catalysing and sustaining a network of researchers from developing countries to address their own issues.

Two autobiographical articles by Amulya provide an insight into his life till 2001. They can be accessed at: (The making of a socially-concerned scientist: personal reflections of a maverick  and The making of an energy analyst: some personal reflections.) A brief outline is given below.


Amulya was born on October 21, 1930, at Bangalore, India. He developed a passion for Chemistry at St. Joseph’s School, Bangalore. The school’s motto: Faith and Toil. He did his BSc (Honours) and MSc in Physical Chemistry from Central College, Bangalore. Amulya was at Imperial College, London, during 1955-58, where he took his PhD in Applied Physical Chemistry.


1958-61: Senior Scientific Officer, Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu.

1961-66: Post-doctoral fellow at John Harrison Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.  

1966- 1991: Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.

Joined IISc as Assistant Professor in the Department of Inorganic & Physical Chemistry. Then he became:

Convenor, Cell for the Application of Science & Technology to Rural Areas (ASTRA) and finally Chairman, Department of Management Studies.

1975-76: Sabbatical at Nairobi, Kenya on the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

1983-85: Sabbatical at Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

1991: Set up the International Energy Initiative (IEI) at Bangalore and was its founder president. IEI is a Southern-conceived, Southern-led, Southern-located South-North partnership. IEI is a small, independent, non-governmental, public-purpose, international organization, which networks existing energy-related institutions and groups, particularly those functioning in the developing countries.

2000: Retired as president of IEI.

Currently at Bangalore, involved with IEI as the publisher of its quarterly journal Energy for Sustainable Development.


Amulya has written extensively in various Indian and international journals, has traveled widely, and spoken on  many platforms. He has over 290 publications in the areas of Technology, Energy and Ethics. These include research papers, popular articles, reports and books.

Energy for Sustainable Development, the book he wrote with Goldemberg, Johansson and Williams, is an articulation of the new energy paradigm that was recognised by the Volvo Award for the year 2000.  During his electrochemistry career, Amulya co-authored the two-volume text-book Modern Electrochemistry by Bockris and Reddy. This has been called the Bible of Electrochemistry. This site houses his non-electrochemistry papers, articles, presentations and other short pieces.