Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Honouring a Teacher! and How....!!!

Eighty years of age, and still in the company of the love of his life – Literature!!!

Well, that’s KC!

K. Chellapan! (Formerly Head, Department of English, Bharathidasan University, Trichy)

And yes!!! Not everyday does a student get the honour of being honoured by his own teacher, on his retirement day! And so what a joyous moment it is, when a teacher’s teacher is there at the ripe old age of 80, to grace the function that honours his first PhD Ward Dr. N. Natarajan!

NN, as we all know him, is the Head, Department of English, Pondicherry University. After forty meritorious years of distinguished service, NN is putting in his papers this month.
And what a way to honour him!

Full credits to our beloved friend and Professor Dr. T. Marx, Associate Professor of English, Pondicherry University, who thought about such a wonderful idea, of hosting an International Seminar to Dr. NN's honour!

Even when Dr. T. Marx gave his introductory words, he had an immense pride that adorned his choked voice, when he said that, ‘this is the first farewell seminar ever to be held in this University, in honour of an eminent Professor! Dr. Natarajan was always a teacher. He never accepted any administrative assignments nor was he into administration as he was of the firm belief that his priorities were only to his students, which was his ‘vocation’, he added!

The audience of more than five hundred delegates, staff and students, was in rapt attention throughout the morning session which saw Dr. K C enthrall the audience with his sonorous voice with excerpts from the lengths and breadths and depths and heights of literature!

Excerpts from Dr. KC’s pearls

Dr. KC, who has the unique claim to fame for introducing Canadian Studies in South India, said that, Dr. NN was his first PhD ward, and Dr. S. Armstrong was his last PhD ward in an astounding list of 56 wards he has guided thus far.

“The fact that the Chief Minister of Puducherry Dr. N. Rangasamy agreed to come for this programme, and has also agreed to sponsor the lunch for the two days of the programme in honour of Natarajan itself speaks highly of the eminence of NN,” he quipped.

"I used to say that, the Cauvery is classical in Tiruchirappalli but Musical in Tiruvaiyaaru,
But now I say that, the waves are aggressive and argumentative in Chennai
But creative and meditative in Pondy!"

"Dr. NN is one of the most creative and argumentative minds I’ve come across in my long career", he added.

"I remember Natarajan coming to me, decades back, asking for a seat in the MPhil programme! After speaking to him for ONE minute, I told him to do his PhD rightaway! And his was one of the best PhDs ever!"

“I’m happy that a good student of mine is a great teacher of yours!” in the same breadth, I am equally proud to say, that Dr. S. Armstrong, my last PhD ward was one of my best students ever!”

Talking about the theme of the Seminar titled, “Multicultural India: Inclusiveness and New Humanities, he said that, Many cultures don’t accept other cultures out of fear – power’s fear of powerlessness, civilisation’s fear of nature, men’s fear of women, etc."

"Multiculturalism in the West is structural pluralism, while in India it is organic pluralism."

"In the ocean of humanity, some celebrate the regional, while some others celebrate the national. But in a real multicultural society, the regional and the national must coexist."

Quoting from the mighty lines of the famed Tamil poet Subramania Bharathi (which I love lottts and lottts) he said,

சிந்து நதியின் மிசை நிலவினிலே
கேரள நாட்டிளம் பெண்களுடனே
சுந்தர தெலுங்கினில் பாட்டிசைத்து
தோணிகளோட்டி விளையாடி வருவோம் !!!

கங்கை நதிப் புரட்டு கோதுமைப் பண்டம்
காவிரி வெற்றிலைக்கு மாறு கொள்வோம்
சிங்க மராட்டியர்தம் கவிதை கொண்டு
சேரத்து தந்தங்கள் பரிசளிப்போம் !!!

"Some of the greatest writings of today do not come from the centre but from the margins. The New Humanities must include these voices. I’ve never read a more moving novel than Beatrice Culleton Mosionier’s In Search of April Raintree. Even Bama’s Karukku which chronicles the agonies and the sorrows, the joys and the frustrations of the Dalit women in Tamil Nadu, is a masterpiece of sorts", he added.

"Rewritings must find a place in the New Humanities. As such, it is not only constitutional protection alone, but more than that, recognition, dignity and equality of humanity are more important!", he signed off.

Sigma Ankrava, Professor, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English Literature and Culture, Lativia, gave an absorbing talk on the New Humanities in the Current scenario. She said that the New Humanities should not revolve around Humanities alone. It should also embrace the social sciences and the sciences too.

"I Come from Lativia, a place where the Christian missionaries arrives only after the 16th century. That’s why we have preserved much of our civilization and culture. Well, in a multicultural fabric today, where every day you have thousands of refugees coming to Europe from Syria, Africa etc. where they’re fighting the Islamic State, they come from traditions very different from that of the Europeans, where egalitarianism is unacceptable in principle. As such, there is an ever-present need to embrace diversity", she added.

Dr. Bhaskaran, Professor, Gandhigram University, gave the next plenary talk on Multiculturalism in the Indian Novel in English.

Mr. Rufus, MCC gave the next plenary talk of the morning session. [ha ha yes, this blogger ;-) ] He spoke on the topic “Derridean Inclusiveness as Strategy: Envisioning A Poststructuralist Stratagem for the New Humanities.”

The afternoon session had three paper reading sessions. Two books and a journal were released on the occasion.

The cultural evening that followed was surely one of the best we had ever witnessed in a longgg time. Two and a half hours of non-stop folk dance, folk fusion, and two classical dance performances, that had the 500 plus crowd amongst the audience in splits. The ecstasy was so much that, around fifty of his students had a merry-go-round the huge auditorium, and escorted the hero of the day Dr. Natarajan to the stage and danced along with him for good ten minutes.

Thappattam and Periyamelam were performed to much applause from the audience. Jayprakash, did a bharatanatyam performance, and a girl from I MA did a fusion dance. The entire evening was sponsored by another affectionate colleague of NN, Dr. Clement Lourdes!
Dr. Natarajan on a song...
When this blogger spoke with Dr. Clement Lourdes during lunch time, he came to know the multifaceted personality that is Dr. CL! Dr. Clement is a wonderful painter and his paintings adorn the houses of great stars in South India, from P. Susheela to Kamalhaasan. This blogger was also invited the same evening, by Dr. Clement to his house to see his wonderful display of mesmerising paintings! And that visit will form the subject matter of my next post ;-)

In short, the culturals was the icing in the cake for the day’s proceedings.

To be contd…

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