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Google UX researcher, environmental activist, social worker from Bengaluru among victims of Uttarakhand tragedy | Bangalore News

Google UX researcher, environmental activist, social worker from Bengaluru among victims of Uttarakhand tragedy | Bangalore News


The nine trekkers from Bengaluru who died due to harsh climatic conditions while climbing Sahastra Tal in Uttarakhand on June 4 had multiple interests beyond trekking and mountaineering. The trekkers, who belonged to the Karnataka Mountaineering Association (KMA), were known in Bengaluru for various social impact initiatives ranging from COVID-19 relief efforts to sustainable waste management solutions.

Asha Sudhakar is one of the oldest women trekkers in Karnataka and has been a member of the KMA for over 30 years. Her husband, S. Sudhakar, Joint Secretary of the KMA, was the program coordinator for the fateful Sahastra Tal trek in Uttarakhand. Sudhakar survived the trek.

Asha, a former SBI Deputy Manager, has participated in 12 mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayan ranges, including Black Peak, Gangotri, Shivling and Mount Kilimanjaro in South Africa in 2020. She has also completed around 27 high altitude trekking expeditions in Himachal Pradesh, Leh Ladakh, Nepal, Bhutan and Uttarakhand.

She epitomizes courage, willpower and desire to embark on a life of adventure, mountaineer, trekking enthusiast and ultramarathon runner Ritu Bhatia Gupta said in an Instagram post. “Asha Mam has been my mentor and 'go-to' person in mountaineering ever since I had the good fortune to trek with her on the Sikkim Goechara Trek in 2021,” she added.

Asha was awarded the Dasara Award by the Karnataka Government in 1986 for her achievements in the field of mountaineering and the Kalasha Award in 2006 by the Bangalore West Inner Wheel Club.

Anita Rangappa (55): Age is just a number

Veteran trekker Anita Rangappa was also an active member of the KMA. People in the trekking community recall that Rangappa was an avid trekker with a lot of experience. Both Anita and Asha were avid trekkers. Both had done many treks. Age was just a number to them. They were healthy, energetic, warm and kind people, Ritu Bhatia Gupta said.

Venkatesh Prasad (53): Inspiring others to take up trekking

Venkatesh Prasad was synonymous with adventure, especially trekking. A Computer Science Engineer from Siddaganga Institute of Technology, Tumkur, he worked as Director, Delivery Assurance at Impelsys, Bangalore. Prasad also headed the pan-India operations of Samarthanam Trust, an NGO working in the field of empowerment of people with disabilities.

He had been an avid trekker for many years and was no amateur. He not only went on solo trekking trips but would often encourage his friends and colleagues to take up trekking. Colleague Prabir Bagrodia recalled that he would organise treks and activities for his colleagues and had recently organised a trek around Bannerghatta Park for some of his colleagues.

Prasad was a personable, hardworking planner and avid walker who set a goal of walking 100 km per month this year. His notable trait was his attention to detail. He would meticulously plan the trek, including giving written instructions to participants well before the day of the trek, Bagrodia said.

The trek to the Northeast was on his bucket list this year.

Sujata Mungwadi and Vinayak Mungwadi (age 52): Distributing oxygen cylinders during the COVID-19 pandemic

Ironically, Sujata and Vinayak Mungurwadi, who died in the snowstorm on June 4, shared the same birthday, October 3. Alumni of BVB Institute of Technology, Hubballi, they were trustees of the Uttara Karnataka Sneha Loka (UKSL), an annual people's movement in North Karnataka. While Sujata was from Gadag, Vinayak was from Hubballi.

According to our friends at UKSL, Sujata and Vinayak were a dynamic, self-employed couple. The couple had been mountaineering for over 10 years but had only recently undertaken high-altitude treks, including in the Himalayas. Sujata was a company director and Vinayak, with over 27 years of experience in the IT and software industry, founded the start-up company Commverse.

Friends at UKSL recalled that Sujata and Vinayak had been active in distributing oxygen cylinders and conducting counselling sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just a few weeks ago, Sujata had reportedly distributed sewing machines to the poor.

Padmanabha Krishnamurthy (50): A flight attendant from her hometown of Kumbash.

Padmanabha Krishnamurti originally hails from Kumbashi in Kundapura upazila, Udupi district. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter. Krishnamurti was educated in Bangalore. As a chartered accountant, he was sent to the US by the private company he was working for to become a chartered accountant. On his return, he continued working for the same company in Bangalore. Krishnamurti had a deep attachment to his hometown Kumbashi and contributed to the development of the Kumbashi Sri Harihara Temple. He also donated a bronze face covering to Malladi Sri Nandikeshwara Daiva near Thekkatte. He also had plans to hold a big program in the village in December 2024 in memory of his father.

Chitra Praneeth, 48: A pioneer in sustainable development

Chitra Praneeth is an active mountaineer and a pioneer in sustainable development. She was instrumental in setting up the HSR Layout Citizens Forum which is actively working towards sustainable practices (HSR Layout's waste management solutions are recognised as the best model in Bangalore). She has trained corporates, individuals and residents on sustainable waste management practices like waste segregation, vermicomposting and home cultivation. She has also actively promoted sustainable menstruation.

Sindhu Wakekalam (44): A brave and experienced trekker

Sindhu Wakekalam is originally from Palakkad but spent most of her childhood in Bangalore. Wakekalam, a computer science engineer from Bangalore, was a mountaineer and trekking enthusiast for the past eight to nine years, according to her cousin Sathisan. An experienced trekker, Wakekalam had explored different parts of northern and southern India, including Karnataka, Sathisan said. She specialized in local trekking and adventure sports, Sathisan added. She was known to be brave, intelligent and a good administrator, he said. Wakekalam, a resident of Henur in Bangalore, is survived by her husband and two sons.

Padmini Hegde, 34: One of the youngest victims

Padmini Hegde, one of the youngest members of the trekking group that went to Sahastra Tal, worked as a User Experience (UX) researcher at Google in Bangalore. A Google employee for the past four years, Hegde has also worked as a Senior UX Researcher at Flipkart and as a Lead UX Researcher at Peepal Design. A Bachelor of Science from Christ University, she partnered with the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology for the Meghalaya project, which focused on how the state is using different types of sustainable design and traditional knowledge to define its cultural identity.




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