There are great influences that shape your life. There are obviously negative influences and positive too; but as you go on the wrong side of thirties, you start appreciating, more than ever, the influence of the institutions on your life.
I realised this at a very conscious level when I read ‘Chitale Master’ written by PL Deshpande. Teachers have great influence in our life. My children blindly accepted whatever their teacher said. Now my grand-daughter does the same. Although this phase in life lasts for a brief period, and by the time you are ready to pass out of your school, you learn to question your teacher on many things, sanity returns when you are in your twenties, more so when you reach late twenties, and when you marry and raise family, you acknowledge openly what a great influence the teachers always had on your life.
Looking back, my school days in Chembur High School, I would say that the school has done a unique job of developing some young minds. There were students, some much senior and some junior to me, who went on to earn a name for themselves. Among them were Kumar Ketkar [a Padmashree recipient] and Sharada Sathe, Jyoti Mistry Mhapsekar, to name a few, who achieved name and fame.
When I joined SIES College, I was overawed by the reputation and personality of Prof Ram Joshi. Later he became Vice Chancellor of Bombay University. Prof Ram Joshi would address students on the Independence Day and students listened to him with rapt attention. I could not completely grasp his messages in the speech, having moved to college from a Marathi Medium school, and I was also partly inattentive because his oratory made me wonder if I would ever be able to speak English like him!
Teaching at SIES College then was also Prof Vinda Karandikar, the great poet and later a recipient of Jnanapith award, Prof Dr Gogte [who held D Sc which also meant we had more respect for him than any PhD!].
While you are not taught by all such great men, they create a learning atmosphere and contribute to the institution’s immense influence on you.
I later joined Bombay Labour Institute, later named Maharashtra Institute of Labour Studies and yet again as Late Narayan Meghaji Lokhande Maharashtra Institute of Labour Studies which should qualify as the longest name of an institution in a book of records. This institution was set up in 1947 on the initiative of Gulzarilal Nanda. It has given some great professionals in the field of Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management to the industry.
The positive impact of the earlier Professors like Dr BR Rairikar, Dr Mrs SA Vaidya, Dr Bhir on the minds of such eminent professionals was unmistakable. When Dr Mrs SA Vaidya presented me a copy of the booklet she published at the age of eighty-two, I was speechless, and I touched her feet in reverence. She was an inspiration to me even at that age!! But for my alma mater, Bombay Labour Institute, I would never had such a great and positive influence in my life.
While at studying at Bombay Labour Institute, I was also aware of great names in Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Dr Mrs Suma Chitnis, a Professor there, was our neighbour, she later became VC of SNDT University. Dr Panakkal and Dr Mrs Sindhu Panakkal were known well to my parents. Dr Punekar and Dr Gore were held in deep respect by us students then. And not just students, but even faculty in TISS have always talked so highly of Dr KG Desai.
There is something peculiar about institutions. Even those who do not teach you also seem to shape your mind, your character.
These institutions have been neglected. LNMLMILS is a subject of criminal neglect by the Government of Maharashtra. Basic facilities are not provided, less said the better about the appointment of teaching staff and professors. When sometime ago, the Labour Secretary aired her view that she intends to close the institute, many protested. Looking back, we should have demanded more from her.
And now it is the turn of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who has given many great HR professionals and social activists, Medha Patkar among them, to us. TISS has done pioneering work in social sciences and in the process has created some great personalities.
TISS, the news report says, does not have money to pay salaries and pension of its staff because UGC and the HRD Ministry of Government of India are not releasing funds! If this continues, researchers and academicians will be left with no choice but to move away from TISS. The HRD Ministry will kill a great institution just as Government of Maharashtra has reduced a great institution to little more than a building.
The alumni,whose lives have been transformed by both these institutes, LNMLMILS and TISS, consider this neglect as criminal offence.
Are you listening Mr Devendra Fadanvis and Ms Smriti Irani?