My educational path: My favourite teacher: Random thoughts
– Dr. Abdul Ruff
Do we have favorite teachers?
I would rush to say that as a self made person I am my own teacher, favorite or otherwise, and I don’t wish to consider anybody else as my favourite teacher. That view would indeed be a highly individualistic and, in fact, a selfish approach to one’s own life. That amounts to negation of truth. Without truth life, even if successful, is meaningless.
As a student I perhaps had many favorite teachers certainly more than one. But we small boys never discussed those issues. I looked upon teachers as very precious people born to help children like me.
You will agree with me that that is not a genuine understanding of one’s life. We have learned a lot of good and bad things from the society, from the people around and in the school itself.
Teachers from school to university help us with the proper and genuine development of our character. This very crucial task of character building exercises cannot be done by our parents or friends because parents upbring children in their “colorful” ways so that their sweet children become big guys and important ladies, with or without genuine understanding of life that helps in them mould strong character.
It is likely at times that a few parents also try to mould the character and positive mindset of their children but very often than not they do not succeed and they invariably fail to train or make any lasting impact on their own children like what teachers do.
Unfortunately, the parents negatively influence their children because they do not have any genuine rapport and therefore keep quarreling, abuse one another, insult one another, thereby making their children feel insecure. This is because they lack the necessary parental aptitudes. At times by showering over-affection on the little children and refusing to punish their wrong doings, mistakes parents in fact spoil them in their early life itself. That is indeed harmful for the future of children. News reports let us know that some misguided parents force chidden to run away, to commit crimes, to commit suicide. That is cruel.
Of course, not every teacher proves self to be inspiring, motivating or positive and some of them could be dangerously dull and pathetically weak and unproductive. However, even if one teacher is bad, misbehaves and negative in attitudes towards life and education and in relations with pupils, there are many teachers there to help the little children mold their character.
When I think of spotting my best or favourite teacher, frankly, I don’t get any particular teacher in the role, maybe because I am also a teacher trying to communicate with a large section of common people.
But believe me what comes to my mind quickly when such questions rise is entire my university life in New Delhi altogether that may have molded me into what I am, if at all, capable of today.
Jawaharlal Nehru University, or in short JNU, remains my lifeline and that multidisciplinary institution by and large could be my favorite teacher if I have to concede. Conversely, had I not been a student and teacher of JNU perhaps, please trust me, I would have been different, may be a useless human being.
Generally speaking, plenty of officals in Indian Administrative Services, Foreign Services and Police Services belong to JNU. I keep JNU in high esteem not because of that. Of course, I am not unhappy that I am not one among them. Frankly, I am not as intelligent, hard working or studious as they are and so I can’t compare me with them. After getting enrolled for a master’s or research program at JNU they spent most of their time at JNU preparing for administrative services or trying to go abroad for higher studies or work. I wonder if these hardworking youth focus on their studies for which they take admissions at JNU, possibly the quality of university education and research would have gone up considerably, taking JNU to the level of many high standard western institutions. But then India also needs good administrators to help central and state governments run the governance as smoothly as desirable. .
I could very easily justify my keeping JNU on top of my life by saying it give a job fairly easier than I thought it would be and easier than many of my classmates got there or elsewhere. That is not the reason as I would have got a job elsewhere too, except in states like Tamil Nadu or Kerala where bribes make wonders in appointments. Certainly I would not have offered bribes to the “concerned” to get a job. But I would have got a job in some university where bribes do not make a criterion for selection. Not only JNU gave me an initial job it also gave me an orientation necessary to face the educational world. However, the forces around me were so strong I could not survive the pull and push of them. Maybe, communal or community troubles or something else more than that are behind my bad luck. I am not sure. I failed to detect people scheming against me. I collapsed, unable to comprehend or control my own steps, my own destiny…. I expected God, who knows everything, to do the needful. I don’t think I am mistaken.
I admire JNU for its role in my life. I learned a lot from being I at JNU for many years, first as a student and research scholar and then as a s a teacher. Believe me it was at JNU that I realized that the world has got many good souls as well.
At times, I think about possible life had I continued to study in my district of Tamil Nadu perhaps I would have got a job or I would have ended in some odd job to sustain my family. Or, worse, some examiner would have failed me at examination in practical as I would have been a science student for graduation. Thank God I had the fortune to join JNU to learn about life. .
Only those who have got no resources to pursue studies alone would know the importance of an institution that offers free education with scholarship and hostel facilities almost everything was free. I studies ignoring opposition from my guardian in New Delhi who refused to give the initial fee to register for an honors program. As my guardian pressed me to do some work instead of studies, I had tough time getting those some rupees from him for registration and by the grace of God, I managed and after words, I did not require any financial help from him as I could depend on scholarship. As my studies progressed in the first year, my guardian left for Kashmir for business there, leaving me to my own fate, now officially. I began my independent life. Thanks to my kind teachers I could pass the honors and MA but I decided to switch disciple and I was denied fellowship by “experts” for M. Phil program in International studies where such matters are decided by high level influences that I did not have. Then my teacher came to my rescue and gave me a job to continue my studies. Thus I became a university teacher all of a sudden. As my fate began playing its own role, I kept on changing places not knowing where exactly I was heading for.
I thank God for being so kind to let me have education, as much as I desire, even more than I could expect from my little life, I certainly do not blame Him for all the troubles I had to face in service to nation.
The SIS experts who come with their own “favorite” candidates for fellowships for research programs reminded me of those anti-social elements that sell tickets in black at cinema theatres. Here I don’t blame my own poor fate.
I have studied in private institutions, for instance for PG Diploma in Educational Administration in an Institute at Vellore, Tamil Nadu but I had pay a lot money and incur other expenses. The IGNOU charged big money for a PG Diploma in Distance Education but then I was already employed and earning. I could afford paid special education. Once as I was returning to Hyderabad from Vellore, I was given tea with something that made me unconscious from early morning to evening and I found myself sitting at Green café at Secunderabad (Telengana) and I was weak and found some people, most probably from railways, were watching me. I was helpless and at the mercy of Indian network people. I still do not know why did they do that way- keeping me in an unconscious way, almost dead for a whole day – and where exactly.
Somebody told me that the Interpol guys are behind all this, but why?
When I was pursuing my second PhD at JNU after my nasty and bitter experience with EFLU where worked most of my career, I was attacked in a running train by the so-called security forces BSF in civil dress but I was saved by fellow passenger. The BSF guys quarreled with him for coming in their way. .
Most of the students at JNU as well as teachers were rich. With plenty of money in their pockets as regular expenditure sum, students just enjoy life, even begin to smoke, drink alcohol and use drugs because they are free from the parental control mechanisms. However, many students and even researchers very tactfully escape that awful route. I am one among them.
When I unambiguously declare JNU as my best teacher of life, by no means I say other institutions with which I have been fortunate to be associated with either as students/researcher or teacher. Obviously I benefited greatly from my studies or service or both with institutions from primary school to university.
A little Girl’s primary school very close to my house in native town where I began my educational life with no family educational background and without enough books, food and proper clothing and then the VKP High School not far way of my house and later Laskhmirpuram College of Arts and Sciences which was 3 miles walking distance then – all gave me lessons on life I practiced after that at JNU. In fact, in JNU I was first recognized as a useful person.
I need to mention here that quite a lot of teachers from primary school right up to university were fond of me and really helped me come over difficulties. Some of them are warm people. I prefer avoiding names here because the list would have been too long. Moreover, if I leave out a couple of teachers by chance – that is possible given a large number of teachers in my life – that would be unfair on my part as injustice would be done to those persons. Let them all live in my heart even after I leave this world, finally forgetting all my tiny achievements and great disappointments….
Indian institutions like IGNOU, Mysore University, CIEFL (now EFLU), Uniferro International Limited did influence greatly my life. They made me human, helped me live with some sort of dignity. They honored me by degrees, diplomas, certificates, doctorates, etc. My education at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow had a deep impact on my perceptions of life.
In fact, not just conventional educational institutions that contributed to my swings in my life patterns. Sermons in Mosque, Church and other religious discourse also may have shaped my world views, although I may not have changed much in any sense of the term.
The surroundings, journeys, among other constructive studies could have improved my understanding of life and people. That is indeed highly impressive development. Recently I was listening to some film music and the lyric by poet Kannadasan impressed me much for his philosophical ideas that are conveyed in fine music tunes. I feel I am just nobody, or maybe a small fry in a very large ocean of talented people.
It is not how much successful I am in life at this point of time. But I am fully satisfied with my title life. Those who know my early school and college life would testify the pivotal importance of my grandmother in my life and without her own commitment to my education I would not have gone beyond 7th class- seriously! In fact, I was forced to stop my studies at 7th std and I resumed school after a couple of years.
On the one hand, it gives me enormous happiness and sense of satisfaction that despite stiff opposition, protests and negative attitude by my own parents, relatives, without sources for proper food I could get the high level of education in India by the grace of God and with active support and help from my teachers.
Fate has always been ruthless with me; it never allowed me to be a good human to others, to myself. .
Journalistic writings, for which I seem to have developed some flair, are fairly easier to engage with than say prose or poetry. Prose and poetry generally require not just planning but more than anything else the necessary basic literary sensibilities, creative mindset. These cannot be generated artificially and without genuine aptitude for creative writing, literary works die prematurely.
Even in literary works, poetry is more difficult than prose writings like stories or novels though they are lengthy and too elaborate. Poetry differs from prose not only in the format itself, in rhymes and meters, but by the way poets choose words and phrases – they use a fewer words than prose writers to describe life. That the poets can employ fewer words than prose writers to express the same human or living feelings and life situations makes them a special category of litterateurs.
I know too well that poetry or prose is not my cup of sweet tea I love to drink. Also, I am not very sure if my journalistic writings have been able to articulate good thoughts I wish for others and put across positive ideas to the global readers who might be reading me. But this is safest medium that came to me so that I can communicate with the world.
I was enjoying life, for the first time in life in Moscow – Indian government had sent me to pursue research and text book production – , travelling in metro trains, trolleybuses, eating ice cream in cold winter, when I received a letter from University of Mysore appointing me as a lecturer. I decided to return to India thinking of serving India but not knowing the future consequences for that crucial, if not unwise, decision. Though my return made my grandmother happy and my home safe, in the longer times the decision of the devils has pushed me to sideways. I tried for a job in my home state and neighboring state Kerala but devils in these regions had the upper hand to deny me opportunities. As fate played its role aggressively, I left University of Mysore, not in a hurry of course (I conducted my last classes to my students for a few days even after I tendered resignation), to join the CIEFL (EFLU) hoping for a new life in Hyderabad but not knowing well the life would be more difficult for me there. Initially I was proven wrong but slowly devils began to laugh at me, again …
There is definitely one area where parents as well as teachers – even piers- play significant role in one’s life: inculcating a sense of disciple into children. Children try to pick up a few elements of discipline both from parents and teacher, others. If they don’t, their only resort is self discipline which is very difficult However, if children have cultivated a sense of self discipline, then, nothing can shake him in life. I don’t know if I have acquired discipline or perfected in self discipline, I always admire those who are genuinely disciplined.
Self disciple, if at all, may have saved me from total collapse. I can’t blame God for what the devils, official as well as private, do in my life.