Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Memoirs of a student on teachers who transform lives

By Pradeep Damodaran

Coimbatore, September 04:

From kinder garden schools to research laboratories, teachers play an irreplaceable role in the life of any student.  For most of us, certain teachers remain a lifelong inspiration and continue to live in our hearts long after their demise.

But only legendary teachers can find a place beyond the hearts of students and enter their homes and offices long after they are gone.  Late G. R. Damodaran (a) GRD, first principal of the PSG College of Technology here is one such teacher.  Even so many years after his death, GRD’s portraits adorn hundreds of homes and offices across the world by students whose lives he has transformed.

Even at the age of 76, leading industrialist A. V. Varadarajan, chairman of Sandfit Foundries in Sulur, does not begin his day without seeking blessings from his former principal GRD whose photograph adorns his home as well as office. “He is my mentor, god and everything else,” the proud student still claims.

Varadarajan was 18 when he met GRD accidentally at the PSG College where he had joined to work in the canteen. “I had to discontinue studies after intermediate due the financial condition of my family and was working at PSG when GRD met me.  When he found out that I was interested in studies, he gave me a seat in his college and also provided financial support through the course. His act transformed my life,” the septuagenarian says.

After completing his studies, Varadarajan worked in the PSG Foundry for a few years before setting up his own business. Today, he is one of the leading industrialists here.   “Not just me, GRD has sponsored the education of so many poor students, many of whom are in top positions across the world,” he says.

Despite belonging to a family of leading industrialists, GRD decided to pursue a career in teaching instead of carrying on with the family business.  His former students claim that the spirit and commitment to education that GRD inculcated among his staff as the reason behind the success of the college, which is one of the most reputed in the country.

He remained that way till his death.  Just a month before GRD passed away, the college had a financial crisis and needed money for a new library. “When we wondered about it, GRD just asked us to proceed with the work and assured that money would come. We found out only after his death that he had allotted his insurance money to the college library fund which was used for the building,” Varadarajan says. His voice breaks as nostalgia engulfs the man's thoughts.

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