: a Glorious Vision
was founded in 1946: a year of great expectation for the renascent citizens of
Bharat who were then on the threshold of
after long years of suppression. National
leaders in the vanguard of Freedom
movement were men of high moral calibre and value-oriented in their outlook.
they visualised was a vibrant nation fully geared to the modern technique of
progress through science and technology but at the
same time firmly rooted in its tradition of spirituality and dharmic
In the context of those times Jawaharlal Nehru had referred to
Swami Vivekananda in the following terms: “Rooted
in the past and full of pride in
’s prestige, Vivekananda was yet modern in his approach to life’s problems and
was a kind of bridge between the past of
and her present. He came as a tonic
to the depressed and demoralised Hindu
mind and gave it self-reliance and some roots in the past”.
The founders of
would have doubtless been inspired by this approach in starting the college at
I had grown up as a ‘Mylapore boy’ at the P.S.High school in
the 1930s, moved over to Loyola College in 1940s for University course and
graduated in 1945, a year before
Vivekananda College was started. Loyola,
Presidency and Madras Christian were the premier colleges in the metropolis in
those days. They provided first
class education in different disciplines but it was in an ambience that wholly
reflected the western life style in all its facets.
The faculty, with very few exceptions, were immaculately dressed in suit
and tie. In fact, students who
were strictly expected to come dressed formally with a coat !
Those who did not wear coats were subject to a derisive
you-do-not-belong-here look by those who were ‘coated’!
Entry into the University level courses induced among the students a
value system linked with western habits and customs with an implied suppression
of our own native responses to situations.
It was in this context that
, founded in 1946, provided fresh air and a venue for University level education
for the youth in the metropolis savouring our own traditional and cultural
practices while pursuing higher level studies in science and technology.
It was this blending of the past
and present to identify a path of meaningful progress towards a glorious future
that was most welcome to the youth and
the parents in those times. Administration
of the College was closely guided by M.Subbaraya Iyer, the legendary legal
luminary of Mylapore, while the
ideological motivation for all academic work was provided by the first Principal
Prof. D.S.Sharma, a renowned English teacher and a respected exponent of
Hindu philosophy. He was ably
assisted by a galaxy of eminent
Professors including K.Subramaniam, T.R.Raghava Sastri, Narayanamoorthy,
Jagannathachari and the like. Several
brilliant young men have passed out from this prestigious institution since
then, and gone up further to occupy leading positions in administration and
While the College has vastly expanded to cover
more courses of study with a much larger intake of students including an
as an adjunct, a critical look back now will make one wonder whether the
initial objective of developing rootedness in our spiritual heritage and culture
alongside proficiency in science and technology has been successfully pursued.
In the last 60 years the College Management would, doubtless, have
experienced a variety of situations within the constraints of the educational
frame work statutorily designed by the State government.
The College is presently seen to be functioning and trudging along the
groove set by the bureaucracy in administration.
In this work environment it is a question mark whether successive batches
of students would have really been impacted by the special programmes and inputs
linked with the Ramakrishna Mission arranged year after year.
Swami Vivekananda had
once observed: ‘That society is the
greatest, where the highest truths
become practical’. He
underlined the need to integrate philosophical concepts and perceptions with
practical situations in the lives of the general people.
That brings us to the question of ethics in community life.
Having regard to the fast changing times and globalisation of trade,
commerce, manufacturing processes and services, the College would do well now to
devise appropriate inputs for all its
students in some basic and fundamental principles of values and ethics which
should govern their interaction among themselves and others who are part of
their College life. A small group of the alumni of the College, who are now
practicing experts in the Management field, may sit together and evolve these
inputs carefully so that they may dovetail into a more structured syllabus of a
regular Degree course in Management which the students could take later, after
completing a course in some regular branch of study.
Business ethics is now recognised as an important integral part of
successful business across the world. This
is being repeatedly stressed by our own Management icons like Ratan Tata, Azim
Premji and Infosys Narayanamoorthy. It
would be most appropriate now for the College Management to break new ground and
start a new
which would offer Diploma and Degree courses in Management science,
supplemented by special inputs
focused on the value system embedded in our own tradition and culture,
interpreted in the context of the changing times.
The importance of our cultural moorings is tersely brought out in
the following observation of Rajaji:
“If there is any honesty in
India today, any hospitality, any chastity, any philanthropy, any tenderness to
the dumb creatures, any aversion to evil, any love to do good, it is due to
whatever remains of the old faith and the old culture”.
In a memorable speech delivered at
in October 1955, Jawaharlal Nehru
had observed: “We must maintain our roots in our soil and our country. We have
also to learn much. The problem
today for all of us is how to keep
this great experience, this great culture of
, this great thought of
, how to maintain it, preserve it, nourish it, and how to plant on to it the
dynamism and science and technology and thought of the west.
We have to build up this great country into a mighty nation, mighty not
in the ordinary sense of the word, that is, having great armies and all that,
but mighty in thought, mighty in action, mighty in culture and mighty in its
peaceful service of humanity”.
The quality of community life in the coming years would be
determined by the value-orientation of
the vast population of young Managers who would be entering the fast growing
corporate world year after year. Vivekananda
College Management should deem it as its duty now to step into this scenario
quickly and establish a new
to be guided by a working philosophy flowing from the perspicacious
observations of Swami Vivekananda, Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajaji which would root
it in our culture and value system. This
would be a fitting homage to the respectful memory of the founding fathers of
the College, and would carry forward their vision and mission in a meaningful
manner in the globalising world.