The Manipal Legacy – Dr. Harpreet Singh

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KMC Greens - Pic via Ajay Singh Chauhan [BPT Student at Manipal]

The word ‘Manipal’, the town ‘Manipal’ the education hub ‘Manipal’ defies the logic of a common interpretation of any place. The pure reason which defies this is the evolution of an unknown barren land into a world famous university town, within a matter of 50 odd years. The great ‘soul’ of Manipal, Dr Tonse Madhava Anantha Pai, if not fully responsible for this massive transformation, is surely the initiation factor and driving force behind the ever-expanding legacy of Manipal. Dr Pai, a physician, an educator, a banker and above all a lover of humanity – a philanthropist to the true essence had such an extra-ordinary and far vision that he had seen that the barren land could be culminated into an ultra-modern, state of the art, and the best among the world, university town. The thinking and intellectual resources of the great man have set forth a legacy which is rich in culture, talent and humanity.

The name ‘Dr T M A Pai’ is so correctly and justifiably synonymous with the word ‘Manipal’ out of the single reason, which does not need any thought provocation that the current Manipal would not have come into existence without him. So when does the ‘legacy of Manipal’ start . . . no, not with the inauguration of a medical college in 1953 as most of us believe. For me, it started way back, and it started the way it should have started, with the setting up of a primary school. With time, it progressed to opening of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College and ultimately the professional colleges followed soon, with the Kasturba Medical College starting in 1953, followed by the engineering college in 1957. The other professional courses also came into existence as time went by. So that defines the legacy of Manipal to me. It started at the grass root level and later explored the higher areas.

That is the wisdom of Dr T M A Pai, he wanted to raise a generation which believed in themselves, had meticulous education behind their personalities, on the basis of which they could venture into the unexplored areas of the world. And that is exactly what the Manipal group of institutions have delivered. Now the world sees ‘Manipal’ as a site of educational excellence, such that it commands an extremely high brand value of its own. The propulsion of an average listless area into the world scene at such a rapid pace – is what defies the logic of a growth of any place. How was it possible? How on earth could a wasteland which was not even known to the people of Karnataka be transformed into what it is now……?

That is beyond the scope of a common man like us to even think on those lines.

And that was marvelously achieved by the ‘great soul’ of Manipal. Dr T M A Pai, who after completing his graduation in medicine, set up a clinic near Udupi, soon realized that he needed to do something bigger, and on a larger scale. After a few years of practice, he left it, only to deliver to the masses of his area in a much bigger way. He himself wrote later that as a prize for deserting the noble medical profession of rendering help to the ailing community, he gave the country a medical college which would bring out generations of such medical professionals to provide the best possible health care for the masses. And at present, the Manipal group boasts of a chain of around 11 hospitals which cater to the needs of lakhs of people. Such was the wisdom of the great man. That shows he was a philanthropist in true essence.

And the legacy of Manipal, the legacy of education, the legacy of culture, the legacy of healthcare . . . all have been aptly carried forward in the correct way and have made Manipal reach and scale the heights it has attained.

So is ‘the great man’ solely responsible for this? Does the full credit always and always go to him ‘only’? The answer would be perhaps no. Because, what he started, was no doubt unprecedented and exceptional, but would have risen to its great heights, if its legacy would not have functioned the way it did.

The next question that sprouts in our mind is but obvious. What is this legacy of Manipal? Who defines it? Who carried it forward? Is it the heir apparent of Dr Pai and his family that is running the whole setup and administrating the different sectors? No, the legacy of Manipal is its rich tradition which has been carried forward in the most earnest way by each and every individual who is involved in some or the other way with Manipal. Whether it is a Dean running any college, or a faculty teaching any discipline, or a Doctor operating on any patient, or a student studying here, or a worker in a Hospital …. all carry forward the tradition and legacy of Manipal, each day, each hour, each minute. So many have served and gone, so many are serving and there are numerous waiting in the wings to be a part of this rich culture. Each one of them would have a special place in the heart of ‘the great soul’ of Manipal, for his wisdom and vision is being carried forward realistically and efficiently too. So every ‘Manipalite’ is proud to be part of this Manipal legacy.

We, being the students of Manipal University, always feel privileged to be a part of this ever-expanding globally acclaimed educational institution. The standards of education, right from the very initial days of 1950s match the very best in the world. By saying education, I mean education in different walks of life, to make a personality which is capable of standing shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world. The teaching of the way of living forms an integral part of the personality development of a child, and that is what is being inculcated into every student of Manipal institutions.

The infrastructure and facilities of the hospitals attached to Manipal also rank among the very best in the world. And it continues to develop further by leaps and bounds.

So, both in the educational as well as health care sector, we see a steep rise in excellence and that is the achievement of all those who contribute to the legacy of Manipal.

Another aspect of Manipal, which has to be looked into, is the business sector. Dr T M A Pai, with major contribution from his brother also started a bank known as Syndicate Bank, which has its headquarters in Manipal. The bank has also leapfrogged from being a small local bank to emerge powerfully on the national scene, and has developed into a secure investment option for the people of India.

This reflects the multi-disciplinary approach of the great man, who accomplished all this in one short life-span.

That was talking about the Manipal legacy which till now, has lived up to its reputation. But with the turn of the century, new areas have appeared on the research and development stage worldwide, which need to be conquered by our very own Manipal. Thus, the legacy of Manipal has to be carried forward in the most appropriate way. So where do we see ‘Manipal’ 50 years from now? We can speculate the spread of this education culture and the health care chain to spread in most parts of India as well as the world, but that requires our train of thoughts to meander in the right direction. That requires the present youth to inculcate the values which governed the great man. The quality of Manipal has to be maintained, if not improved, while the quantity is continuously increasing many folds. Then only, our children to come, would be able to write much more about the Manipal legacy.

Our generation owes this to Dr Tonse Madhava Anantha Pai, the ‘great soul’ of Manipal.

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