LAST month, former union textile secretary and 1980 batch Manipur-Tripura cadre retired IAS Sanjay Kumar Panda received a unique recognition — Louis Pasteur Award for the year 2016, an award considered as the Nobel Prize in sericulture and silk industry. Panda was given the award during the 24th International Congress on Sericulture and Silk Industry held last month in Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok. Panda, who did his post-graduation in chemistry before getting into IAS, actually took sericulture on a mission mode so much so that it was for his study on mulberry sericulture that he was awarded PhD in economics by Odisha’s Utkal University. In fact, Louis Pasteur was a…French chemist and microbiologist known for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization, and his discoveries have saved countless lives ever since, according to a post in Wikipedia.
And the Louis Pasteur Award was instituted by International Sericulture Commission, a part of the United Nations.
In fact, Louis Pasteur rescued the silk industry by showing that the then epidemic Pebrine disease of silkworms could be controlled by prevention through simple microscopic examination of adult moths, and these advances set the trend for a more mechanized and scientific approach to silk production, according to the information available with International Sericulture Commission.
“I have felt humble and privileged on getting the prestigious Louis Pasteur Award”, Panda said after receiving the award.
Panda’s close association with mulberry sericulture began way back in 1989 when he dealt with the implementation of Bivoltine Sericulture Development Project and the National Sericulture Project in the state of Odisha. In the next two and a half decades he took it as a challenge and helped people, particularly the tribal people of Odisha and Tripura, getting livelihood and a decent annual income. He was managing director of Odisha State Tassar and Silk Society, and was also director of textiles, Odisha. Later, Panda became principal secretary (2005-09) and then the chief secretary of the government of Tripura. He had then handled many other responsibilities, but his passion for sericulture continued.
Before he moved to Delhi to join as union textile secretary, Panda as chief secretary of Tripura, teamed up with a select bureaucrats, bankers and academics to produce a book titled, “Making One plus One Eleven- Some Innovative Experiences with Tripura”. It was in that book he highlighted some unique achievements of the state of Tripura like the state achieving a literacy rate of over 95% and setting a record of 93% turnout in 2013 assembly polls.