Monday, June 2, 2014

Murari Tholpadi – The Quintessential Professor (Economics) Part-I

With the Indian families reduced to a unit of three to four members nowadays, the responsibility of elder brothers to help in bringing up the younger ones is no more there. But there was a time when the parents had burdened themselves with a number of children. Generally their resources for family maintenance used to be limited. This situation used to put the onus on the elder son/sons. The elder son had not only the responsibility of completing his education, but also the burden of supporting the education of younger brothers and marriage of his sisters. Very few of the sons could cope up with this huge responsibility. The story of Murari is a shining example of how one elder son of a family could successfully contribute to the upbringing of the younger lot despite his struggle to complete his own education.
Shri Murari was born as the second son to the couple Shankaranarayana Tholpadi and Sulochana on 3rd April 1936. He completed his V Standard examination at the Primary school in Narimoger - a place two kms away from his home in the village Shanthigodu in the Puttur taluk of South Kanara district. His father had sufficient agriculture lands to maintain his family. However, he thought he was not in a position to support further education of his second son. It appeared that the educational career of Murari ended at the Narimoger School itself! The first son Sadashiva had already discontinued his studies.
But Murari definitely had other ideas. He thought higher education would not only help him see greener pastures, but also enable him to play a role in the future of the younger lot. But unable to convince his stubborn father, he simply went into the Gandhian mode! He was on hunger strike for two full days! The third day saw his father approach his close relative (grandfather of Shri Lakshmisha Tholpadi) for some arrangement in Puttur town. So that was it. Murari was admitted to the VI standard in the town with a staying arrangement with the relative. He completed his SSLC in due course.
Now it was a question of going for Intermediate classes (present day PUC).  The MGM College had been set up by then at Udupi by Dr. T M A Pai in the year 1949. It was again a question of finding accommodation and food. Murari somehow managed to get the food facility at the Mutt in Udupi.
Mr. Sundar Rao was the Principal of the college at that time. The faculty included Professor Haridas Bhat (who rose to the position of Principal later) and Dr K B Ramakrishna Rao (KBR). KBR later became the first Principal of Vijaya College in Mulki and JCBM College in Sringeri. Murari was impressed by the lectures of Sundar Rao, Haridas Bhat and KBR. He still remembers the interesting Logic classes taken by KBR.
Murari also remembers some of the troublesome students at the college. There was a notorious gang of 14 students who would create all kinds of nuisance in the classes. Among them was a particular student from a rich family who excelled in the art of displeasing. In those days most of the students used to come to the college with simple dresses. But this student would dress up like a cinema hero. His shirt used to be so white that Tinopal White makers could have used him as a model! He once arrived at the college on a bullock cart! He drove the cart right up to the college gate to create maximum nuisance to the Principal and the other faculty. While it looked definitely funny to his classmates, the Principal was not amused.  He warned the student of dire consequences.
The notoriety of the ‘Gang of Fourteen’ reached a climax on the Annual College Day function. That day the Principal had arrived at the college wearing a pure white shirt. The gang had assembled in full strength and occupied the entire back seats during the function. They started creating hullaballoo to disturb the speakers on the podium. The Principal was forced to go to the backseats and request them personally to allow the function to go on smoothly. The gang appeared to heed his advice and things cooled down.
But when the Principal went back to his seat on the podium somebody told him that the back of his pure white shirt had a large spray of blue ink! Obviously it was the handiwork of the Gang members! He was in a rage. But he kept his cool on the podium in the interest of the function. The annual examinations had approached by then.
Immediately after the annual examinations were over, the Principal summoned the Gang of Fourteen to his office. The gang walked in quite cool. It was as if they knew nothing! When the Principal asked them who exactly had done the mischief during the College Day function, they behaved as if it was news for them. But the Principal was not amused. He straightaway issued the TC (transfer certificate) to the entire team asking them to join some other college. He desisted from suspending/debarring them from the college in order to not to spoil their future career.
The Gang of Fourteen had absolutely no remorse. Almost all of them were from rich families and the incident did not bother them too much! Most of them managed to join some other colleges in Mangalore and other places. Some of them even discontinued their studies. As far as the Tinopal White dressed hero was concerned, he joined the Government College in Mangalore. In due course he completed his BA. He then completed his LLB. Eventually he entered politics and was elected as an MLA of the Karnataka Assembly. He had ended up at the right place!
Murari completed his BA in MGM College in due course. He had an ambition to complete his post-graduation. His maternal uncle (S K Kanthavar) had a very good hotel business in Mysore at that time. He was also running a ready-to-eat food (including Gulab Jamun) business called My Foods in Mysore.  He was an entrepreneur who launched such a successful business long before the Maiya’s even thought about it. He was prepared to help Murari and was ready to accommodate him at his home. But that was not to be. Quite surprisingly, Murari could not get an admission to post-graduate course in the University of Mysore. The University had very few seats for PG in those days. There was some politics involved in the allotment of seats. Murari was forced to discontinue his studies for one year.
Murari did not give up. In the next academic year, he sent an application to the prestigious Benares Hindu University seeking an admission to MA course in Economics. He received a prompt allotment of seat under the Other States’ quota. He then approached his cousin Shri Krishnaraja Tholpadi who was then a lecturer at the University. The cousin straightaway asked him to come to Benares and stay at his home! Murari then moved to the ancient city with assurance of finance from his maternal uncle. He joined the MA in Economics PG course at the prestigious University founded by the legendary Madan Mohan Malaviya.
Murari regularly received money for his expenses from his maternal uncle as assured. However, on one particular occasion he was shocked to receive a ‘huge amount’ from the uncle. The amount was Rs750/=. That was more than his annual expenses at that time! But Murari was a man who would not take advantage of such things. He remitted back Rs500 to his uncle immediately.
During his next visit to Shanthigodu, Murari enquired his uncle about the reasons for the huge remittance. As per the uncle, he had a dream that he was on his deathbed! On getting up, he thought that if something happens to him, Murari’s education may suffer. In order to insure Murari from such an eventuality, he had remitted the huge amount to cover his expenses for the full PG course! That was the type of commitment the gentleman had for a cause. Of course, the dream failed to materialize! The uncle lived long to see Murari come up in his life. Murari completed his MA in Benares eventually and returned to South Kanara.
----To be Continued---


Narain said...

The uncle's munificence is very touching! AVK has introduced the series with great aplomb. Waiting for the next episode!!


Thank you bawa for putting into simple but beautiful words the life of the man who single-handedly took upon himself to bring-up the whole family of the 10. It was a monumental task, but he did it all with dedication, conviction, love and a sense of great responsibility.It was a herculean task which he did with all grace and conviction.
I was in a way fortunate to be the last of the ten siblings in recieving love and affection and a bit of pampering from from my brothers & sisters. I was also blessed to have been brought up during my formative schooling years by Murari Anna & Sneha Attige. He has also shown us the path of values and principles.
He has touched the hearts of everybody who has come in contact with him. His contribution in bringing up the family will also run into the the generations to come. Whenever somebody says something good about me or thanks me for a good deed, I always remember Anna because it also inpart belongs to him. Whenever I am in a dilemma, I remember him and try to get some answer. He has always been and always will be a part of me. I was also very fortunate to recieve the motherly care, love and affection from Sneha Attige.

AVK Murthy said...

Thank you Ravi.