Marc-Antoine Diego Guidi has taken an auto from IIT Madras, where he has just finished his class on innovation, to Mount Road, and thinks he’s been gypped by the auto he took. “Do you think it’s too much?” he asks, and even before he finishes the question you realise he’s resigned to it.
But India’s solid waste, and its appalling mismanagement – now that is something Mr. Guidi will never be reconciled with. This Frenchman, who has worked in supply chain management, international purchasing, coaching, and sustainability has now decided, seduced by the spirituality that India has to offer, to study an issue that is key to India’s towns and cities – waste management.
He has been with the Amrita School of Business in Ettimadai over the last couple of years, researching community empowerment factors that will have an impact on solid waste management. “Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) is my spiritual guru and it was while in her ashram that I came close to the subject of waste disposal,” Mr. Guidi explains.
So, even as he teaches social innovation and sustainability and social entrepreneurship at Amrita University in Kerala, he tramps into dump yards and landfills, stomping across piles of garbage, wet and dry, rotting and just dumped, loving every bit of it. “I was at Perungudi (One of Chennai’s two dumpyards) and it is a nightmare. I’ve seen a lot of waste in India, these past two years, but Perungudi is by far the largest and most depressing,” he says, the shock of a morning experience still lingering on his face.
As part of his Ph D, he is statistically studying waste management policies in 58 cities in 28 states and will intensively study two models at both ends of the waste disposal spectrum – Surat, arguably the cleanest city in the country, and Thiruvananthapuram, where a lot of illegal dump fields emerged after the existing landfill was closed down.
“My postulate is that there is no one single waste management solution in India, but clearly the involvement of the community is essential. Communities can teach us a lot by the way they find value and ways of doing things locally.” In fact, he has launched one such waste management solution within the University campus in Kollam.