Arup Kr. Sengupta

BE - Chemical Engineering, 1972
Interviewed By: 
Mr. Satyajit Bhattacharya, BME 1984

"Tomar Kachei Fire Asbo!!"


If you type the name of Arup Sengupta in any web search engine, you will unmistakably identify a pioneer in Environmental Engineering and an authority in the research, and technology innovation of a major solution in removal of arsenic and fluoride from drinking water. We can proudly say that Dr Arup Kr Sengupta is a Jadavpur Alumni who received BS Chemical Engineering with gold medal in 1972. Subsequently he has worked in Kuljian Corporation for several years and afterwards advanced his education in Civil & Environmental engineering in University of Houston. Since 1990 he has been a PC Rossin professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA.

He has won many prestigious US and international awards due to his distinguished research, innovation and contribution in the field of environmental, civil and chemical engineering including “INTEL Environment award” in 2012, Fulbright-Nehru Senior Fellowship in 2011, Astellas Foundation Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) and Lawrence K Cecil Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in 2009, Dhirubhai Ambani Award in 2008 and at least 10 other awards in the past. He holds 7 patents (3 more pending) and authored more than 80 research publications in various journals globally.

Early Life:
Being a “Khati Bangali Babu” by heart, Arup grew up with soccer fever and mania. Arup is still a die-hard fan of East Bengal club and manages to watch his favorite club’s game when he visits Kolkata. Besides that he also attends world cup soccer and adores Brazilian team and specifically Pele as a soccer idol. In fact he has seen Pele in couple of occasions and considers those events as “Bhagaban Darshan”! To him soccer is not just a simple rhetoric of “Saab khelar sera Banagalir ei football”, he could see a flow of poetry in the game of soccer. This also perhaps induced a passion for poetry in him in the latter years and became a successful poet in his own right. He has also written a poem about soccer – the king of games which is played by everyone from rich to poor! He himself was in the JU soccer team.

Jadavpur University Days (1967-1972)
Arup attended JU during a period which marked radical reform and movements in Kolkata. Looking back, this period had a lasting impression and deep impact on his perspective and intellectual development. Arup still vividly remembers Triguna Sen and Gopal Sen’s period in JU. He is still connected with JU directly as well via other organizations. There is a JU connection in the family as well since Mrs Sengupta is also from the same alma mater.

Love for poetry
Besides soccer, poetry is his second love. He is profoundly influenced by none other than Tagore. He aspires to promote Tagore to non-Bengalis as well. With the assistance of like-minded Lehigh University graduate students and researchers, SenGupta led the creation of “The Tagore-SenGupta Foundation” ( to address water, sanitation and education related problems in the developing world.

The foundation has celebrated Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary with 300+ people in Allen Town, PA where most of the attendees were non-Bengalis. He has explored all the important places that Tagore had visited in England, Argentina, Germany etc.

After Tagore, one other person had major influence on Arup’s passion for literature – that is none other than Neal Lohit a.k.a Sunil Gangopadhay. He named his son after Neal Lohit.
Arup has written and published multiple books of poetry collections – Tomar Kachei Fire Asbo, and Selam Dubeji and Final Days with Ma.

International Activities and Charitable Foundation:
For over twelve years, SenGupta’s group in association with Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU) and the Indian Institute of Science in India, the Institute of Technology in Cambodia (ITC) and Institute of Technology in Buenos Aires (ITBA) has been involved in developing sustainable arsenic removal systems and sharing the technology with other countries confronted with relatively high arsenic concentration in groundwater.

His innovation in drinking water technology has huge positive impact on millions of lives in rural areas of third world countries including India – what a noble way to give back to one’s motherland!

Arup genuinely feels that USA is a great country due to the core values of mutual respect, work ethics and fairness. He strongly believes that we should promote these values in India and other countries. By promoting these values we can attain an elevated state of mind reflected by “Chitto Jetha Bhoy Shunya Uccha Jetha Shir” - Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where knowledge is free; Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls. His principles, largely influenced by Tagore, are reflected in the Tagore-Sengupta web-site in lighting “just one candle” even in total darkness. He believes a small number of people with the right tools, guidance and passion can create benefits for a larger community!

He is convinced that we all can make difference to India, if we want to. There is a lot of work to be done even to improve basic infrastructure. There is a huge possibility to generate collective wealth if we can utilize the potential and raw talents of millions of untapped resources in India who need guidance, vision and opportunities.

I personally know Arupda for over a decade and he always impresses me with his humility, values and passion for literature and culture.


Here is a poem by Dr Arup Kr Sengupta: