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G M Pillai Founder Director General, WISE


Founder Director General, WISE

G M Pillai began his career in the Indian Administrative Service in 1976 rising to the rank of Principal Secretary, Government of Maharashtra. During his tenure in the government, he served as Senior Advisor to the UNDP for more than four years. He carries with him four decades of experience in energy and climate policy, environmental economics, and public policy and governance, at the national and international levels.

Since January 2000, Mr Pillai has devoted his career to pioneering sustainable energy development in India. Prior to joining WISE, he was the Director General of the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA), Pune, for a period of five years. During this time, he pioneered several path-breaking initiatives for accelerating the development of renewables in India, especially at a time when renewable energy was not given much importance in the country. These included, the establishment of 400 MW wind power in Maharashtra, implementation of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in Maharashtra (first state to introduce RPS in India), introduction of the‘Green Cess’ on conventional power that went on to create a Rs.1000 crore fund for development of renewables in Maharashtra (another first in India).

His outstanding work in wind power development in Maharashtra resulted in MEDA receiving the National Award in this field for four consecutive years, from 1999-2000 to 2002-2003. As Founder Director General, WISE, he was instrumental in drafting a Model Renewable Energy Law for India (another first), and successfully articulating its advocacy and adoption (as the first draft) by the Government of India. Under Mr. Pillai’s leadership, WISE has emerged as a unique and pioneering institution in the area of sustainable energy and development.

A well known author and speaker, he has published many books and articles in national and international journals, both in English and his regional language, Malayalam. He has conceived and edited four books in English. These include, ‘Challenges of Agriculture in the 21st Century’, ‘The New Energy Economy’, ‘Wind Power Development in India’ and ‘A Solar Future for India (the latter three being WISE publications). In the regional language Malayalam (he writes by the pen name G. Madhusoodanan), he has published three pioneering books in the field of Ecological Literary Criticism. He is the recipient of five prestigious Literary Awards, including the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 2003.

In 2020, Mr Pillai was conferred with a second Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award (he is the first person to receive two awards in two different categories) for his contemporary and pioneering book on ‘The Environmental History of Kerala’.