Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Nagmani Rao: The Sustained Inspiration

As an alumni of Karve Institute of Social Service, I shared this with fellow students. This is about one faculty of Karve Institute. This is written in the context of her retirement on 31st August 2016. 

Nagmani Rao: The Sustained Inspiration

Nagmani Rao! Those who have met her know her well, there is no need for any introduction! This is just a small attempt to recall her memories. This is a reflection regarding learning with her. This is based on what I saw of her, what I could understand and of course what I can recollect now. So this is just a random sampling and not complete in any way. In fact one should remember that sampling is always like a drop and the universe is like an ocean!

Days spent in Karve Institute- two years- are golden days for all of us. It was one of the initial days. The second interview during the admission! Mani madam was on the panel. I was under pressure and some questions were asked. Assertive questioning was there. But to my surprise, it was accompanied by attentive listening also. Mani Madam was not only asking many things, she was listening and basically she was recognizing what the student is saying. That must have helped many students like me to give that interview with confidence. 

Then the college started and the Director's address was given. Then in the rainy month of July 2006, lectures started. Already there were rumours that Mani madam is one of the most strict faculty… Her lecture in the orientation lectures stood out. The passion, the commitment and the simplified elaboration! In actual lectures, she was so different. She began with individual introduction. It was always one to one with her. She spent time to understand all of us and also helped us to understand her. She told us about her background, her experiences, her earlier movement around Sangli and what she likes to do in general. It was befitting that such a versatile personality was born in a town which was a railway junction, Manmad. When she had said, that she was too old, around fifty years old then, then we realized that she was going to be a different kind of teacher! She also shared her MSW days in TISS! One felt she was very close to the students and very informal also; despite this being a formal relation.

As the days passed, we had more interactions and slowly slowly she became one of my favourite teachers. And her concern for her students was visible. Despite of not being a natural Marathi speaker, she was speaking fluent Marathi and also Hindi. As a teacher, it must have been a lot of hard work for her not only to learn these languages, but also teach in them. But she was always committed to her students. Soon her lectures became very lively and interesting for the students. Because it was not just theory or just the subject matter, it was also her lively experience sharing and elaborations. She was teaching the subject of research. For most of the students it was a tough subject. But it was visible that she was taking every effort to make it simple for the students. Even in her research labs, she was taking every step to make the content available in the form which the students could understand. For this purpose, she ensured that every research lab group has someone who speaks Hindi and English and who can explain things to other group members. Being two extremities with a language barrier, she would care for the students from South India and also the students from the North East. This journey with Mani madam continued through the year, through the advanced orientation visits and many assignments! One thing is still clear before my eyes- the respect she has for the students, to their work and to their presentation! It is that respect which might have driven many students to do well in their study. Such respect and such acceptance for the students (who are mostly raw, undisciplined and careless)!