Mr. Rajendra Desai obtained his B.Tech. in Civil Engineering from IIT Bombay in 1970. Later, he got his MS in Structures from Rutgers University, USA (1972).
After working professionally in the USA for 12 years he returned to India in 1985, and began working on people-friendly green building alternatives with a focus on rural and semi-urban housing along with Rupal his wife, an architect by profession. He worked with the Centre of Science for Villages in Wardha for a year and a half on cost-efficient vaulted roof made from conical terracotta tubes, made by local potters, and mud walls. Next he worked on a tribal housing project in the villages of South Gujarat with Ahmedabad Study Action Group (ASAG).
A damage assessment assignment in the aftermath of 1993 Latur earthquake in Central India took him into the field of disaster mitigation, which soon became his principal field of work. He devoted much effort on the promotion of seismic retrofitting of the existing stone-earth- timber houses. This intensive work on disaster preparedness and earthquake risk reduction eared him and his wife the first A.S. Arya Award of IIT -Roorkee.
Dr. Desai has also been involved in similar work in Uttarakhand, in Jabalpur-MP, in Kutch-Gujarat, and in Kashmir during the last 18 years since 1993. In the aftermath of Kutch Earthquake he was involved in a large number of projects. In Kashmir he spent several months along the line of control (LoC) training local masons in using local materials for building earthquake resisting buildings.
He, with his wife, has been an author of several publications including Manuals for Restoration and Retrofitting of Buildings in Kashmir (UNESCO) and in Uttarakhand & HP (BMTPC- Govt. of India), and the Manual for Hazard Resistant Construction in India (UNDP).
Currently, he is occupied with evolving a national level certification system for the building artisans—for the Government of India-with an aim to developing a system that is friendly to a common semi-skilled mason who is at the bottom of the ladder.