IntroductionIndiastudychannel is India's leading educational portal in the web world bringing all folks together and surely a reflection of our cultural diversity and united with the bond of harmony. We have a good number of active members from different walks of life ranging from vastly experienced veterans to college students and fresh graduates. Silent performers without much publicity are true ornaments to this site and one such contributor is Prof.T M Sankaran.
A brief sketch of the ProfessorT M Sankaran hails from Edappalli, Kochi. Born at Thenezhi Mana in Palakkad District in the state of Kerala on May 10, 1945. He is a post graduate in Statistics from Kerala University. He started his career as a teacher in the Department of Marine Sciences at Cochin University. Later he moved to College of Fisheries under Kerala Agricultural University as the Head of the Department of Management Studies and later Professor of Academics in charge. There he participated in different National and International Seminars and symposium with more than 30 research papers at his credit which were published in National and International research journals. He has authored three books, two in Malayalam and one in English. About 60 articles in Malayalam were also featured by him in different magazines and periodicals apart from uploading of about hundred articles online in different websites. He has been actively associated with the popular science movement and Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishath (KSSP), an organization which got international recognition. Sankaran worked in it holding different posts. He was the Director of Integrated Rural Technology Centre (IRTC), the research and training centre of KSSP. At present Sankaran is on the Editorial Board of its monthly, 'Sastrgathy' and a member of the State level environment subject committee.
Though it would be a long chain to mention, Sankaran also worked as a member of three high-level committees appointed by the State Government and a Central Institute. Two committees relate to Fisheries and the third one was for studying the Carrying Capacity of Greater Cochin area.
Nomination of Sankaran as a member of the Senate of Cochin University and Academic Council of Kerala Agricultural University and a member Board of Studies and Research Advisory Committee is a feather in his cap and a true recognition for his services in academics
His association with ISC Sankaran joined ISC on 25th April 2009 and continued to be a member with his slow and steady performance. His threads in the forum are totally knowledge-based and also gives informative responses. He never loses his temper and is friendly with everyone with his cool composure.
Thanks to the Webmaster and the Managing Editor for entrusting me the job to interview the academician from Kerala. He was so cool and acceded to the request to respond to the questions of the author. Here is the full text of the interview with Prof. Sankaran by the author. Have a look at the cool, composed responses of this veteran to the questions posed by the author.
My encounter with the Professor
1.Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?
I consider myself as a bit shy person and prefer to stay back from crowds. If the group consists of individuals of almost similar thinking persons, I may get mingled. As a student, I was a little above the average and became first in the class very often. My way of learning was mainly by attending the class seriously.
I am a lazy man to a certain extent and soft-spoken. I don't like high-frequency sounds. Opportunities came to me, I didn't go after any. I like reading and writing. I involve myself in social and cultural activities.
2. You can share some of your childhood memories in brief with us.
Certain incidences and occasions of my childhood days come to my mind. The periods of stay at my mother's house was always a thrill for us. The house was a large one almost spread over an area of about half an acre. It was a two-storeyed tiled house. There were four central courtyards (in Malayalam such houses are called 16 kettu). Though two-storeyed, only the West and South portions were raised. There was in effect a third storey also which was kept as a long hall. We children used to play there.
Similarly, there is a river on the southern side of the compound. During summer we children used to swim there and cross to the other side. There it was full of sands which attracted us. During rainy season water level would raise up to the courtyard. That sight was also interesting for us.
When I was studying in school classes our family stayed in the quarters of a temple of which my father was the Executive Officer. My stay there was something which we cannot forget. Since I was studying in the neighbouring school there were several friends around the temple premises. Hence every day was spent happily. Two large temple ponds were the place we spent the evenings. Additionally, there was a public library in which a carom board was available for time pass. We kids were also allowed to play there.
A third one to remember among the happiest days is the Onam days. Our family belonged to an upper middle landlord class. Hence during Onam days, the tenants used to bring vegetables and ripe plantain fruit bunches as their gifts to the land Lord. These plantain bunches would be hung on bamboo bars on all the four sides of the room. Vegetables also were hung like that. We children were very happy to see all these and more over because every day cooked plantain pieces would be served for breakfast. However, these were short-lived. On the fourth Onam day, all these would be taken for preparing curries and other things to be served to the tenants and their families who would come to our house for an Onam feast. It was a return gift by.the land Lord to tenants. These are just some examples of my childhood days.
3. What motivates you?
Chances of getting involved in popular science activities and vegetable cultivation.
4. What are your Strengths/ Weaknesses?
My strength and weaknesses are my family and the assignments undertaken.
5. What strategies did you use to be successful in college?
There was no any special strategy. During my education period I concentrated only on studies; did not involve in any other activities such as arts, sports or politics. When I became a teacher I was to teach relatively a tough subject to students who had no much background in Mathematics. Hence I simplified the presentation with several examples from their practical life and connecting with their major subject. This helped them to digest the subject.
6. Have you ever had any other jobs besides teaching college?
Teaching and research were the major part of my job. I worked for more than 35 years. After retirement, I worked for about three years as the Director of a rural technology centre. Afterwards, I took up another assignment with an Institute concentrated on environment and development as it's Senior advisor. I was to guide the data collection and analyses of data related to three research projects on the environment. Next was a book writing project of Kerala Language Institute. I was to translate a biography of famous Indian Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan written in English by Robert Kanigal. It was shared by another person since the time was limited and had several pages.
After finishing that I was free, but soon I was requested to take up the Presidentship of the local service Co-operative bank. It is for a period of five years and is to be over by coming June.
7. Students are often confused to know the difference between project work and internship. Can you briefly explain?
This question has not much relevance here. However, an internship is part of a professional education program like Medicine. It is for getting direct practice in using the knowledge acquired during the course. A project work is part of the course. A student will choose a problem from the whole coursework and will collect necessary data to justify his hypothesis he made about the problem.
8. What is the biggest conflict you have ever been involved in your profession? How did you handle the situation?
I did not face any complicated conflict in my career. However, subject wise Statistics was only a supporting course for most of the PG programs I handled. Hence there was a difference of opinion regarding the time allocation, making computers available for students, etc. However, I could overcome these by my own involvement in all common issues of the college/ university and gain a position in the institution.
9. Who is your Mentor in your academics? Why?
In academics, I did not have a mentor. Different teachers helped me at different times. In fact, I cannot call any one of them as a mentor.
10. In the role of a teacher, what has been your most memorable, unique experience?
I am happy to remember that most of the teachers and students liked me and behaved like friends. As instructed by ICAR, the Central Government's authority to finance and approve the syllabus and the course, the University had forwarded a questionnaire to assess the teachers by students and find out who the best teacher was. The senior batch students were to assess. The assessment gave me the maximum score. Thus a teacher who was teaching a relatively tough topic became the best teacher! Like this, there are more incidents to quote. (During my study at the degree class in a very large reputed college I got the Gold medal being the topper among all degree students).
11. According to you what would be ideal for a work environment?
Work environment must be suitable for the works proposed to be done there. In colleges or teaching departments, the atmosphere must be conducive to education. Nobody should be allowed to disturb this.
12. Do you think that the corporate culture in academics has improved the study environment? Why are the Govt. schools failing bitterly in performance?
Yes, the corporate culture converted the educational institutions into business centres. Only the richest in the society can hope for getting a seat there. The propaganda that the Govt. owned educational institutions are failing in their duties is entirely wrong, at least in Kerala. Now many students studying in unaided schools change over to Govt. schools when they reach the 9th or 10th standards here. Those who go for higher studies prefer Govt. colleges. Only for selected subjects, they opt for Private colleges.
13. Coming to ISC, how did you get introduced to this website?
I became a member of ISC by my own way, by searching and it was in the year 2009.
14. How do you rate this Educational portal in terms of its utility for net users?
This a good and useful portal, no doubt. But it's capabilities are yet to be utilized fully; only a small fraction of the membership make use of it. Very often the discussions are not serious and also the thread will not have much to be discussed. No comments appear about serious threads.
15. What improvements do you suggest for the betterment of the site?
On the basis of the ongoing contest ' know the author' classification of authors will be possible. Those who are coming up through this contest may be requested to contribute more and better threads and articles. Also they can contribute to other sections as well.
16. What do you find most enjoyable in ISC?
I cannot classify anything as more enjoyable. I generally contribute to forum and articles section. Occasionally in other sections too.
17. Can you recommend some courses which will ensure good job prospects for the job-aspiring ISC members?
There are different areas in which job opportunities are available. It is the question of correct selection and identification. At different sections and levels of IT sector, many are working within and outside the country. In India at present construction sector is another option.
18. We have young members aspiring for jobs. What companies or industries do you think one should target?
I feel that the target must be to have localized planning and development. For this emphasis must be given to encouraging rural technology. Waste management and healthy vegetable production must be emphasized together with water conservation and purification.
19. Do you have any additional information are suggestions that you would like to share?
Possible steps must be taken to propagate scientific temper among the masses since majority including educated are still under the influence of superstitions/ wrong information.
Wrap upLet us wind up here. India Study Channel sincerely thanks Prof.Sankaran for taking his valuable time to respond to the questionnaire and looks forward to his more active contribution and valuable suggestions for our members. We will come up with another article containing the interview of another active member in the article series.
Jagdish Patro is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to ISC and other websites. Fond of reading books, novels and spends his leisure time by listening to music. He did his B.Sc in Applied Chemistry and his M.Sc in Resource Development Technology. He edited and published an in-house monthly journal by name ‘Srujana’ during 2009-2011 which was totally a private circulation.
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A very captivating interview with Prof. Sankaran encompassing his lifelong achievements and activities in one concise capsule.
The various assignments and activities brought out in the interview show the focussed, hardworking and sincere approach of Prof. Sankaran towards the tasks in life and as he is still busy with many creative things it also depicts his seriousness towards learning as well as teaching and spreading knowledge to others.
I as an ISC member as well as in my individual capacity wish him more creative and imaginative times ahead.
The contents produced in the article is definitely high calibre and is surely interesting to read as a co member of this site. Many things presented I could recall from many of his threads and responses in forum section. We two have discussed in many issues particularly I remember are within mathematics, festivals and temples of Kerala.
Glad that ISC is turning towards this kind of celebrity members and Jagdish is doing really a good service.