Rotorua scientist among top 100 Indians in the world

CAPTION: Dr Guna Magesan seen during the World Hindu Economic Forum in Denarau Island recently. Photo: VHP – Fiji.


Overseas Indians, numbering more than 25 million, have spread right across the globe and have made their mark in every walk of life – trade, industry, politics, academia and arts.

They have played an enormous role in elevating India’s image in the world. Indeed, in many cases, their impact has transcended national boundaries and has been truly global.
The publishers of The Indian magazine, based in Hong Kong, have identified 100 people out of this vast population and released the second edition of a book entitled 100 Global Indians which has three sections: The Leading Luminaries (30), The Entrepreneurs (40) and The Achievers (30).
The criteria used to identify the 100 Global Indians were based on a set of objectives not overwhelmingly dependent on success in the business world alone.
“We carefully studied and weighed the track record of community service rendered by each biographee. The overriding consideration has been the contribution they have made to enriching life in the community and the country they live in and how their role is seen by society at large” said K. Sital, publisher of The Indian magazine, and editor of 100 Global Indians.
“Given that there are over 25 million people of Indian origin living outside India and that this number is steadily growing, selecting 100 Global Indians is not an easy task,” Mr Sital said.
Dr Guna Magesan JP, a senior scientist with Scion (Crown Research Institute) in Rotorua received a copy of this book recently and was very much surprised to see his name included in the list of achievers. He had been pinpointed for his outstanding contribution to the community.
Some of the other achievers included were: Amartya Sen (1998 Noble Prize winner for Economics), Sir Anand Satyanand (Governor-General of New Zealand), Bobby Jindal (Governor of Louisiana), Dr Deepak Chopra (prolific writer of New Age books), Jhumpa Lahiri (the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction), M. Night Shyamalan (Hollywood Filmmaker), Sonal Shah (American Economist & Advisor to Barrack Obama), Sunita Williams (Astronaut), and Dr Thomas Abraham (ex Chairman of Global Organisation of Person of Indian Origin – GOPIO).
Dr Magesan is one of only a handful of non-political personalities included in the list. It is indeed an achievement for Dr Magesan, who was born and raised in a small village in the Nilgiri Hills, South India. He comes from Badaga community, similar to Maori community.
Guna Magesan came to New Zealand about 20 years ago for his PhD degree at Massey University. After completion, he worked for three Crown Research Institutes at different times in Palmerston North, Hamilton and Rotorua.
Along with his science work, Dr Magesan also made enormous contributions to the various communities he has lived in since his arrival to New Zealand. A leading figure in the Hindu Council of New Zealand, his drivers are inter-cultural understanding, youth development and promoting Indian culture and heritage to wider community.
In Rotorua, Dr Magesan is renowned for his work on community festivals such as Deepawali, GlobalFest and the recent new addition to the community calendar, Holi, or Festival of Colours. Through each of these, as well as embracing and educating the community, Dr Magesan has helped develop strong Hindu-Maori relations.
Dr Magesan humbly acknowledges that there are many other people who share the credit in his achievements.
“Without the support and encouragement from my family, members of our community and research organisations, I am not sure I could have achieved what I have,” Dr Magesan said. “Blessings from the elders and support from the committee members definitely had an influence,” he added.
Dr Magesan aims to combine science and community work, especially with Maori people. For example, taking practical science to Marae-based groups, promoting alternative farming systems to some of the marginal lands owned by Maori Land Trusts, and sharing knowledge with developing countries.
“I have a passion for both scientific research and community wellbeing,” said Dr Magesan. “My ideal job would be to combine both, especially with indigenous people.”
He suggested that such work could start here in Rotorua, and let Rotorua community become a role model for others.
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