Friday, March 29, 2013

Dr. S U Pillai of NIT REC Calicut

I was frantically searching for a photograph of   Dr. S U Pillai on the net but sadly I found none..only a audio-video clip of one of his key-note address at some seminar that too in  Pakistan. Dr. S U Pillai is to REC Calicut what Krishna Menon was to India..defiant..single minded..crusader..a maverick who knew what could have been done and wasn't and pursued with dogged determination against odds to put REC NIT Calicut on a more stable and formidable ground.


Let me also mention in the history of REC's there is one more name I heard..Dr. Manisundaram who was principal of REC-Tiruchi in the early 1980's..I have not seen him but only heard of him to be in the league of one of the transformers of NIT REC Tiruchi.

Who is Dr. S U Pillai...he was the Principal of REC Calicut from 1983 for a period of twelve years...What did he do ?  He brought discipline into the various elements of the institute and at the same time laid foundations for its future without fear or favour  and by doing so left a legacy that cannot be effaced or underestimated..... though not a person demanding veneration but none the less a achiever with idealistic goals and a strategic change creator.

I used to know Dr. Pillai  fairly well especially sometimes sharing the dais with him at some functions and seminars.

Dr. S U Pillai was one of the earliest crusaders of academic autonomy for REC Calicut and surprisingly the institute has become academically autonomous now though under a different posture.There were many who endorsed it and many silently opposed to it and given the circumstances of the times making the institute academically autonomous would have been a complex legal tangle..but his cries for academic autonomy had one positive side effect..without delay it disciplined the university of Calicut especially in adhering to time frames and schedules with pin-point precision. I have to thank him for this as it made the lives of students more predictable and stable and postponement of exams becomes a thing of the past and results were announced with haste and precision.Though during these times academic autonomy was not granted but it did one thing the need for it diminished at least for the short-run.

Dr. S U Pillai was passionate about REC and Kerala and could not stand REC Calicut not figuring among the top REC's of these times and possibly went about expediting things towards this end. Today I think NIT Calicut would figure among the top three NIT's of the country and may be a front-runner on some independent yard-sticks - the verve to achieve these some where came from the Pillai era.

He tried to fortify the campus an effort not embarked upon by many..the borders were hazy and at times intruding into public domain without proper demarcations  but none the less providing a rough or may be a largely precise boundary for the institute and also identifying usable land that remained dormant was a challenging affair. I still beleive some 20% of the land mass of REC NIT is tucked at remote and isolated patches and would need ingenuity to be put into larger good. The fencing and boundary gave insights into the land resources in a more pronounced fashion and the many possibilities that could arise there-upon.

In my view point some thing interesting has dawned upon Nit Calicut of today namely the Koduvally-Kettangal road.This road must have come up of-late and is a de-facto highway on which the present NIT Calicut is located.Geographically speaking this is a welcome move and I am told a main gate has come up at this place.Firstly the Kunnamangalam highway is a prominent life-line of this part of the world because it connects Calicut to ooty, Mysore and Bangalore the more resplendent  neighbors of  Calicut as a city. The Cherupuzha river was an impediment during that era which must have been bridged now which means the travel time to NIT Calicut from the many cities mentioned above must have reduced by nearly an hour..a very welcome sign. This means  the entire campus of NIT at present has a welcome re-orientation facing the Western Ghats..The posture of NIT of today is Ghat-ward.

What could NIT Calicut do to pursue the legacy in some form handed over by Dr.Pillai.. first of all acknowledge his contribution in no lesser terms. I am sad to note that none of the Technical institutes in the country match up anywhere vis-a-vis the best in the World..a matter of grave strategic concern.

Secondly create bench-marks on various parameters to progress in an organised manner into becoming the better of technical institutions in the country and the world ; and finally call one of the roads in the campus after him  as a tribute to his endeavours that many would know that there was a man who fought relentlessly for the future of NIT Calicut of today.

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