Indian American entrepreneur and social activist Pran Kurup, nicknamed the “unsung hero” behind the nascent Aam Aadmi party movement in Northern California, died Sept. 3 in Thiruvananthapuram, India, of cardiac arrest.
Kurup was 49 at the time of his death. The Silicon Valley, Calif., resident leaves behind his wife, Lachmi Khemlani, and two children.
In July, Kurup released his third book, “Arvind Kejriwal and The Aam Aadmi Party: An Inside Look.” Kurup and Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal were batch-mates at IIT Kharagpur, and the book chronicles the deep friendship the two shared, as well as Kejriwal’s influence on Kurup’s philosophy.
“Pran, IIT batchmate and a very dear friend, passed away due to cardiac arrest. May his soul rest in peace. Heartfelt condolences to his family,” tweeted Kejriwal Sept. 3.
As the Aam Aadmi Party began its growth in the U.S., in 2012, Kurup is credited with increasing the movement’s visibility through social media and his popular column in The Economic Times. At a Sept. 21, 2013 panel discussion at UC Berkeley that explored India’s changing political landscape, Kurup remarked: “Although the last thing India needs is a new party, it is unfortunately the only alternative for a young, aspiring secular India in the 21st century."
He then discussed the AAP's transparent funding process, the open candidate selection process, the push to political decentralization, and the focus on education and healthcare for the masses, emphasizing the message: "Vote even if you don't vote for AAP."
In a blog post, Namit Arora, another batch-mate of Kurup’s, wrote: “Through his ups and downs, my most abiding memory of him is his optimism, his decency, his caring for a better India, and his infectious humor and laughter. I loved him dearly.”
Arora noted that Kurup was a devoted father to his two children, a daughter and son.
University of California San Francisco cancer researcher Maya Vishwakarma – who in 2014 ran for a Lok Sabha seat from Hoshangabad district in Madhya Pradesh on the Aam Aadmi ticket – credited Kurup with being a mentor, teacher and beloved friend.
The Chennai-born Kurup founded Vitalect, an e-learning company based in California, in 1997. He also served as the president of the Silicon Valley Indian Professionals Association.