My professional life – a smooth take-off

All of my professional life I have served the MEA / DTEA with one purpose and dedication – to make a positive difference in the lives of the children. A profession that I took up by choice, not by chance, I was all out to do what it takes. I couldn’t have been more fortunate to start at the brand new school building at Lodi Estate with a galaxy of talented teachers, drawn from different regions, all working in unison to promote the educational interests of Tamil children in the capital. I was the juniormost in age but I was straightaway given senior classes to teach mathematics. Of course it was a challenge and thrill for me to teach those really bright students who were indeed in the “learning mode”. Shri. Suryanarayanan, Principal, whose subject was also Maths developed a liking for me from day one and we became a team. His residence was on the top floor of the school, so we would spend long hours after school discussing school matters, teaching techniques, and administrative issues. He was a mentor and friend to me as I blossomed into a successful teacher and soon went on to head various schools as we expanded.

The Principal had two “lieutenants” to help him with administration – Shri. V. Subramanian, the Vice Principal (Economics ) for communications and public relations, and Shri. T. Rajagopalan (Maths ) for accounts. The three of them formed an able team making everyone feel that the school was in good hands.

Shri. T.Rajagopalan was by far one of the best Maths teachers. Very conscientious about his work, one could never find him free even for a minute – he would be busy with school accounts, running a cooperative canteen, establishing a Cooperative Group Housing Society for teachers, or the school book store, etc. Ironically, he would hardly find time to go teach classes, yet he would manage everything efficiently at the end. The Principal relied heavily on him for every little thing. Both of them together wrote a Trigonometry textbook which was a big hit by any standard. TR was happy to have me in the Maths department and respected my input in various matters.

The Maths department was easily the strongest in the school. The Principal himself taught Geometry & Trigonometry to some sections of class XI. I used to silently admire him when he would go rushing to teach a class leaving aside other administrative work or an important telephone call. His zeal and love for teaching was an inspiration to other younger teachers like me. Shri. A. Sundaresan was another mathematics teacher – a remarkable gentleman from Mylapore, Madras, who had left his family behind in Madras, worked in Delhi, and visited his family at every school break. He was fast in talking, faster in thinking, frank and outspoken, with an extraordinary sense of humour. He found good companionship in me and welcomed me into the maths department sharing all his experiences with me. Though he was 25 years older than me, his youthful spirit made it extremely comfortable to be around him.

Shri.V.Subramanian, a doyen in his own right, commanded the same respect as the Principal and was ably assissting in school administration. Temperamentally amiable, he would conduct staff meetings in an extremely professional manner with excellent command over English. It was a pleasure listening to him. In addition, he was responsible for teaching all Economics classes for class XI – Arts students. He knew how to maintain discipline and decorum inside and outside the classroom. By and large everybody maintained a distance from him, however I was very close to him despite the age disparity. Sharing similar values, I admired him. An interesting instance in this context was the time when a parent and Vice-President of MEA, Shri. C. Ganesan (working as the Secretary of the UPSC), urged Shri. V. Subramanian to apply for the post of Principal in Delhi government schools through the UPSC, which would get him further promotions and other benefits in the cadre of government service. VS, not tempted at all, politely declined the offer. He preferred to wait for his turn in the MEA to become a Principal, obviously opting for serving the community. That to me was indeed laudable. He was ultimately promoted as Principal of Mandir Marg school in 1959. I was happy for him, and as time passed, we came closer to each other. Sadly, he passed away in 1973 while still in service.

Going back to one spring day in March / April 1958, within two years of my joining MEA, the Principal, Shri. K.Suryanarayanan called me to his office to convey that the MEA management had passed a resolution to appoint me as the Head of a new school being opened in Lakshmibai Nagar. I was thrilled allright, but all the same I honestly felt that I was too young to take up such a responsibility. I was only 24. I expressed my inability and declined the offer. But Shri. Suryanarayanan would not take a “no” from me. He told me it was beyond him to do anything and instead suggested that I should go meet the Vice President of MEA (also Chairman of the Selection Committee ) to get the resolution revoked. I dutifully went ahead and met the Vice President who to my surprise said that the recommendation had indeed come from the Principal! What a dilemma! I had to turn to the Principal again. Finally, I managed to persuade him and things were sorted out. Inherently I was touched that I had won the confidence of the community. I geared myself to prove even more. My stay in Lodi Estate hardly lasted another couple of years when Shri. Suryanarayanan again asked me to head the next new school at Pusa Road in 1960. This time, I accepted the challenge and moved on to my new position.

It was an honor and privilege for me to have been chosen by all the top 3 – KS, VS, and TR – to share and discuss any of school or personal matters. It was clear to me that those are the footsteps I desired to follow. With that, I dedicated myself to serving the children of the South Indian community in Delhi. MEA / DTEA became synonymous with my life as I identified myself with it and grew with the organization. I retired after 36 years with deep gratification of having fully realized my one and only ambition in life.

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MEA Lodhi Estate, Arts Group, 1960 Batch

lodiest-1960-arts

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MEA Lodhi Estate, Science Group, 1960 Batch

lodiest-1960-science

From Left to Right:
Mrs. P.D.Kapoor – Domestic Science; N.K.Sharma – Geography; Ram Bhaj – Engineering Drawing; J.N.Ganju – English; H.C.Shali – History; T.Rajagopalan – Maths; K.Suryanarayanan – Principal; Shri. C.R.Pattabhiraman – Minister of Law, Govt. of India & President of MEA; P.H.S.Iyer – Founder Teacher; S.Srinivasan – Physics; S.Easwaran – Economics; S.Natarajan – Maths; S.Jayalakshmi – Chemistry; Mrs.Samuel – English; R.P.Sarathy – Physics

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More on the MEA / DTEA story to follow…

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3 Responses to “My professional life – a smooth take-off”


  1. 1 V.Thirumalai August 27, 2008 at 4:12 am

    Dear Sir,

    Few of us can boast of hitting the pinnacle at even this age (we are all hovering around 50). To be recognised by your superiors at 24, to head an institution, will remain a dream for youngsters of the current generation. Really commendable. Very absorbing write up as expected.

    Awaiting keenly to know about the teachers of my time 64-75 and there were some real stalwarts.

    Respects,

    Thirumalai (Thiru)

  2. 2 Srinivasa August 27, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Very nice write-up. It was gratifying to read about Sri TR whose book I used for Trig. He was greatly admired by my older siblings for his teaching.

    Your career has been extraordinary indeed. Hope you will share more of your memories with us.

    LN Srinivasakrishnan

  3. 3 K. Ravi September 16, 2008 at 6:47 am

    While going through the write up, memories of the yester years of Laxmibai Nagar came afresh, and it was as though you were narating live in front of my eyes. It made me recollect your steady command over English, particularly the Grammar and of course your articulate manner of narrating the prose or indepth explanation of the poetry. In fact our 1977 batch from Laxmibai Nagar, has been having a gettogether once in a while and the last we met was on 30th of August 08. Believe it or not when we meet our minds transform to those golden school days, where we had spentalmost 25% of our life with the Gurus whom we duly respected. I still remember your close association with Verma Sir and I hope it continues even now.


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