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Post Info TOPIC: Manoj Bhargava - Dropout, monk and billionaire


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Manoj Bhargava - Dropout, monk and billionaire

Oct 11 2015 : The Times of India (Chennai)
Dropout, monk and billionaire: The story of Manoj Bhargava
If you were asked to name some of the world's richest Indians ­ both local and diaspora, you'd probably think of the Ambanis or Narayana Murthy or Azim Premji. Among diaspora Indians, there's Romesh Wadhwani and Vinod Khosla. Wadhwani, according to Forbes, is worth around $2.8 billion. Khosla, around $1.72 billion. Not many would name Manoj Bhargava, who is believed to be worth around $4 billion.

Bhargava was born in Lucknow in 1953, and moved to the US in 1967, at the age of fourteen. He joined Princeton University, but dropped out after a year. He returned to India and lived as a monk in an ashram for twelve years. Bhargava spent his 20s traveling between monasteries owned and tended by an ashram called Hanslok. It was more like a commune, he says, but without the drugs. He did his share of chores, helped run a printing press and worked construction jobs for the ashram. Bhargava claims he spent those 12 years trying to master one technique: the stilling of the mind, often through meditation. Bhargava returned to the US in the early 1990s to take over his family's plastic company , which he sold to a private equity firm in 2007. Along the way, he started a consumer products company called Living Essentials and launched an energy drink called 5-hour Energy. In eight years, the product went to $1 billion in retail sales.

Now, Bhargava wants to give most of his money back. He has built a stationary bike to power the millions of homes worldwide that have little or zero electricity. Early next year in India, he plans to distribute 10,000 of his Free Electric battery-equipped bikes, which he says will keep lights and basic appliances going for an entire day with one hour of pedaling. “The first 50 bikes will be tested in 15 or 20 small villages in the northern state of Uttarakhand before a major rollout in the first quarter of next year.He says they'll be made in India but doesn't give details,“ reports Wendy Koch in the National Geographic.

That's not the only thing that he wants do. The low-profile billionaire has a high tech lab in Michigan, where he lives.Among the projects it's working on are a device that functions as an auxiliary heart by squeezing blood from the legs into the body's core and a device that will convert 1,000 gallons an hour, of any kind of water, into drinkable water.

Bhargava's got an even grander plan to solve the crisis of pollution and fossil fuels. His answer is the use of geothermal energy, the heat from deep beneath the earth's surface. But the way he proposes to do so is different from the ways geothermal energy is currently tapped in places like Iceland or Indonesia. “Rather than using steam ­ mixed with chemicals ­ to bring the heat to the surface, he would instead pull it up with a graphene cord.He notes graphene, stronger than steel, is an incredible conductor of heat,“ writes Koch. “You don't need to burn anything...Once you bring [heat] up, you don't change any of the infrastructure,“ he says, explaining that utilities could simply distribute it instead of coal, oil, or natural gas.

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