Keki Hormusji Gharda (born 25 September 1929) is a prominent Indian chemical engineer, chemist and entrepreneur. He is the founder, chairman and managing director of Gharda Chemicals Limited, a R&D-based company with business interests in agrochemicals, polymers, and high performance pigments. He was honoured by the Government of India with the award of Padma Shri in 2016.
Gharda attended St. Stanislaus High School, in Bandra, Bombay. He acquired Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Technology Degree from University Department of Chemical Technology at the University of Bombay (now the Institute of Chemical Technology). He then obtained both a master’s degree and PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1952 and 1959, respectively.
Gharda began his career as an Assistant Professor, Process Design & Chemical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. During this time he was granted his first two patents for projects he undertook for an oil company.
Upon his return to India, Gharda briefly taught as a visiting faculty member at UDCT and then established Gharda Chemicals. His strategy of producing off-patent at extremely cheap prices led to successful start for the company. His move into agrochemicals was a result of being invited to be an observer of an investigation by the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission into an alleged monopolistic product. However, his foray in bulk drug production was not successful.
Among his many awards, Gharda was elected to be a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1976 in the field of Process Design. Other awards include the Distinguished Alumnus award by the UDCT and the Indian Chemical Councils Lifetime Achievement Award. For his contribution to chemistry and chemical engineering, Gharda is a recipient of the American Institute of Chemists‘s ‘Chemical Pioneer’ award. He also got the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce And Industry (FICCI) Award For Research And Technology for the Development And Commercialisation of Poly Ether Ether Ketone (PEEK).
Gharda Chemicals Ltd.
Gharda Chemicals Limited, established in 1967, is a research and development company manufacturing agrochemicals, high performance pigments, and high performance polymers. It has five manufacturing units located across the country at Dombivli in Mumbai, Lote Parshuram in Chiplun (Maharashtra), Panoli & Ankaleshwar in Gujarat and Samba in Jammu.
Innovation through research and development has seen the company rise from a rented shed in 1964 to a leadership position in the agrochemical industry. Expertise in process development has enabled the company to capitalise on superior technology and discovery of world-class processes. This has led to the production of vital import-substitute products and cost effective agrochemicals on a large scale and consequently to a strong, competitive national and international presence.
Gharda is married to Aban, who was a graduate of St. Xavier’s College and also earned a PhD from the University of Mumbai. She passed away 2017. He is an avid reader and has promoted Bai Ratnabai Gharda Library in Bandra, Mumbai. Gharda has said that he follows a frugal lifestyle.
Gharda is also known for his philanthropic contributions. He has promoted the Gharda Scientific Research Foundation, a non-profit limited-liability company, dedicated to develop and research basic technologies. The aim is to use the earnings of this foundation to promote more technologies and will also contributing to the upliftment of society in the areas of health and education.