Jagdish C Agarwal (Industrial Chemistry 1945) donates money to Concord Hospital
Chronicle Editor @ Jan 07, 2008
(Chronicle note: Mr. Jagdish C Agarwal is 81 years old and still working at CRA international, a large economics consulting company. He graduated from BHU, College of Technology in 1945 with B.Sc. ( Ind .Chem.) degree.. That was as close to chemical engineering as was given at that time.)
issue Date: January 16-31, 2008, Posted On: 1/25/2008
Concord resident donates $250k to area Hospital
By ADAM SMITH
|CONCORD, Mass. — Jagdish C. Agarwal isn’t quite ready to attribute his acts of kindness to having met Mahatma Gandhi while a student in India during the 1930s and 1940s. But those encounters couldn’t have hurt.
Agarwal, 82, recently donated a quarter million dollars to Emerson Hospital for the creation of its new Elizabeth Smith Agarwal Diabetes Center, which is named after Agarwal’s late wife.
His wife was a diabetic patient at Emerson, the hospital that served the couple since they moved to Concord in 1969.
“They took good care of her," Agarwal said of the hospital. “I decided to donate some money to Emerson — they needed a diabetic learning center. So it was my choice to give a quarter of a million to start that.”
He donated the money, he said, as a way to thank the hospital, give back to his community and help patients suffering from diabetes, which currently afflicts nearly 21 million people in the United States.
Agarwal was born in what is now Karachi, Pakistan, grew up in Delhi, and came to the United States in 1946 for graduate studies in chemical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in New York.
“I left soon after World War II was over,” he recalled, noting that he was against the war because the British had conducted it on India’s behalf.
"I wanted India to declare war," said Agarwal, who was active in the Indian National Congress while a teenager in college.
Sign for the future Diabetes Center.
|"We wanted independence from Great Britain, so we could fight the war for ourselves," he said. “If the war was to be fought for the sake of saving humanity against German fascism and Japanese imperialism, then it had to be fought by everybody.”
After attending university in the United States, he met Elizabeth Smith, who was the secretary of the graduate school at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.
“She was taking care of all the foreign students who were coming into graduate school for postgraduate study,” he recalled of his future wife. A year later the two married, and he became a citizen in 1954.
At the time, few Indians lived in the United States, which was still deeply segregated.
“When I came to the U.S. in 1946, there were hardly any Indian professionals,” Agarwal said. Still, he said he never faced discrimination.
“I was determined not to face any discrimination…. In the late 1940s, early 1950s and 1960s, people from India were sort of a curiosity. So I didn’t have any problem what-so-ever.”
After earning his masters and Ph.D, Agarwal went on to work at Fleischman Laboratories in New York, later moved to Pittsburgh for a job at United States Steel in the 1950s, became vice president of technology for Amax in Connecticut 15 years later and moved to Concord in 1969, where’s he stayed ever since. He currently consults for CRA International in Boston.
Agarwal is an avid sports fan — who follows both the Red Sox and the Patriots — and travels the world for his work in chemical engineering and natural resources development. He owns 32 patents related to the production of metals and is active in many professional organizations, such as the American Institute of Engineers.
An octogenarian grandfather, he still plays tennis and golf and follows politics closely.
Some of his political and world views, he said, were shaped by the writings of Ghandi, whom he met while at Banaras Hindu University after starting his studies there when he was 14.
|“I met him a number of times. I first met him in 1937, [then in] 1939 in Bombay…. The last time I met him was in the winter of 1941,” he said.
“His leadership influenced my political and religious views,” Agarwal said, adding that he is religiously liberal and fiscally conservative.
When asked if Gandhi influenced his decision to donate to Emerson hospital, he said he wasn’t sure if that was the case.
He did say, however: “There’s a long tradition of charity giving in India, so this is nothing new for me and my family. But I hope that people from the subcontinent of India who do well here… will do likewise.”