Darshan Shankar is the managing trustee of FRLHT and founder of TDU. His core contributions lie in the field of educational innovation. He started his career in 1973 at the age of 23, at the University of Bombay, where he designed and implemented a post graduate “experiential” learning program that won a Commonwealth Award in 1976, for being the best program in the Commonwealth for linking University education to community needs.
Darshan worked as a young faculty at the University of Bombay from 1973 to 1980. He then lived and worked for twelve years till 1992 in a tribal district in Maharashtra on projects related to S&T applications for tribal development.
In 1993, he moved to Bangalore, where along with Sam Pitroda, he founded the Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), and later the Trans-Disciplinary University (TDU).
He has won several national and international awards viz. Commonwealth Award (1976), Normal Borlaug Award (1998) for contributions to conservation of wild populations of medicinal plants, Columbia University’s International Award (2003) for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and in 2011, the Govt. of India conferred on him, the Padma Shri.
He has held several honorary positions like
- Advisor (ISM), Planning Commission, Govt. of India
- Member, National Biodiversity Authority, Govt. of India
- Member, National Wildlife Board, Govt. of India
- Member, Executive Board of Global Initiative for Traditional Systems (GIFTS), Oxford, UK
- Member, Academic Council, Rajasthan Ayurvedic University, Jodhpur
- Member, Independent Commission on Development and Health in India, New Delhi
- Convener, Working Group on Traditional Health Sciences of the National Knowledge Commission, Govt. of India
- Member, International Expert Group to advise PM’s Office, Govt. of Malaysia, on development of Herbal Sector
- Member, Population Commission, Govt. of India
- Member, Research council, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Karnataka
- Member, International Expert Group set up by IUCN and WWF, Germany and WHO on Standards for Sustainable harvest of Medicinal Plants
- Member, Board of Directors, Inter University Doctoral Research Program on Endogenous Knowledge, Netherlands
He has written one book, chapters in several books, and peer reviewed articles in national and international publications.