Wednesday, June 4, 2014

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

In those days there were very few persons who had completed their post-graduation. But the job opportunities were equally limited. There were very few First Grade Colleges in the State. Murari’s efforts to secure a lecturer’s post did not succeed. Finally he began his career as a journalist in a daily newspaper called ‘Nava Bharatha’ in Mangalore. He took up the job in all its earnestness.
Murari’s job was to edit the news items received and make them readable. He was also required to give suitable headlines (title) to each news item. He soon developed the necessary expertise and started enjoying his job. He even started writing articles in Kannada. The editor of the newspaper was quite pleased. The articles were published in the newspaper.
After sometime, the editor was so pleased with Murari’s work that he offered him promotion as a Sub-Editor. But there was a catch. The Sub-Editor had to work during the night shift! Murari was not ready to work in the night shift. By that time he received an offer from MGM College to work as a Tutor in a leave vacancy. That was the end of Murari’s career in journalism!
So Murari was back at his Alma Mater after a gap of nearly four years. He was asked to take classes in History. Initially he was not happy with the subject. But soon he developed interest in the subject and teaching as well. He started preparing notes on the subject. The students started cherishing his well-drafted notes. They came in handy for them while writing their examinations.
Murari’s popularity among students attracted the attention of the management. He was asked to take up the job of hostel warden in addition to his duty as a lecturer. He was given additional remuneration for the job. What was more – he was given free lodging and boarding facility at the hostel to enable him to discharge his duty as a warden.
As stated earlier, Murari’s posting was in a leave vacancy. He was to vacate it when the person on leave came back. Fortunately for him, he got a regular appointment as a lecturer in Economics at the Saint Philomena College in Puttur. The place was hardly 6 kms away from Murari’s home in the village Shanthigodu. Soon Murari settled down in his job. But there was a minor aberration. Murari was paid Rs20 less salary than the other lecturers of subjects like Science and English. The reason being - the scarcity of Lecturers in those subjects. Needless to say Murari was not comfortable with this sort of discrimination. But he was helpless. The amount of Rs20 was not small in those day standards.
Right from the beginning, Murari had set himself a firm agenda. It was to support the family in the matter of education of his younger siblings. He had five younger sisters and three younger brothers. The first thing he did after his appointment in Puttur was to rent a house and bring his mother and two of his brothers (Venkatarama and Rajgopal) to stay with him. The sister Uma also joined him later. They were studying in High School at that time.

The marriage of Geetha, the first younger sister of Murari, was fixed while he was working in Puttur. He was getting a take home pay of Rs180 at that time. His brother Venkatarama remembers how happy Murari was when he could raise a loan of Rs1,000 and give it to his father as his contribution for the marriage expenses. The amount was more than five times his monthly take home salary at that time!
At this juncture Murari received an offer for the post of a Probationary Officer in a Bank. The job of a Probationary Officer in a bank was a coveted job in those days. The remuneration was also very much attractive. But the job meant frequent transfers to different parts of the country. Murari thought he would not be in a position to support his family if he were to accept the bank job. He declined the offer. He completed service of two years at the Philomena.
The Bhandarkar’s Arts & Science College in Kundapura was set up in the year 1963 by the Academy of Manipal with a major donation of Rs2 lakh by Dr. A S Bhandarkar who was then practicing as a doctor at Bahrain.
Ramdev Shenoy, a friend of Murari, had joined the faculty of the college in the first year. The next year he asked Murari to submit his application for the post of Lecturer in Economics in the available vacancy. Murari was interviewed for the job and was selected straightaway with an offer of additional increment considering his experience. Murari decided to take up the job, as he was fed up with the discrimination policy adopted by the St. Philomena College. He joined the Bhandarkar’s in the year 1964.
It was the beginning of a new chapter in the career of Murari. As the first lecturer to join the college as Lecturer in Economics, he became the Head of the Department. He took a house on rent at the coastal town, which was known for its healthy climate. He shifted his family setup to the town from Puttur. His sister Uma and the two other brothers were with him at this stage.
The young faculty at the newly set up college in Kundapura was in high spirits. Murari, with his MA from the prestigious Benares University and two-year experience at the St. Philomena College, soon became a popular lecturer to the students’ community. He had already made a thorough study of the general attitude of the students towards the lecturers at the MGM College and the St Philomena College. He was aware that the mere command over the subject would not help him in holding the attention of the students. It was important for him to deliver the lectures in an interesting manner to be more effective. He adopted his own methods and over a period of time he molded himself as a model lecturer.
Murari had an additional advantage. His parents had gifted him a very handsome personality. He was a six-footer with fair complexion. He always took extra care to dress up himself well. Among the entire faculty, he was the only lecturer who always attended the College in full suit. He would invariably wear the full suit for the morning session and take up classes in a simple bush shirt in the afternoon session.  All in all, he enjoyed his profession thoroughly. He never had a role model. Rather he became the role model for many of his students.
It was not as if there were no troublesome students at the Bhandarkar’s. Many of the students were from well-off families. They also wanted to enjoy their student life in full. But Murari had developed an art of keeping them under control. The college had good number of girl students in each class. There was an opinion that Murari was stricter with the fairer sex than the boys. According to Murari, the opinion was partly right. He always felt that women had a major role to play in the family and it was essential that they led a disciplined life even as students. He did show some considerations to boys as none of them would like to be insulted in front of the girls!
Murari remembers an occasion when a particular student wanted to play some mischief in the class. As he entered the classroom on that day Murari found a one rupee currency note on the podium. He could make out that somebody had done it intentionally to divert his attention. He picked up the note and placed it on the table. He then told the class -“I had often heard the usage of the idiom - somebody had lost four Annas (25 paise) to convey that the person has gone partially mad (the person has lost his marbles). But here is a case where somebody has lost his entire rupee! “. The class turned totally silent and nobody spoke. Murari then went on with his lecture for the day.
After the class Murari went back to the faculty room. He was immediately followed by a student. At the faculty room, the student started asking Murari how he could insult him like that! Apparently it was he who had kept the note on the podium. He wanted to make some fun by disturbing Murari’s focus on the subject. But as it turned out, he became the butt of jokes of his friends after Murari concluded the class. Murari had to console him and send him back.
------To be Continued------

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