Education is the light which illuminates the otherwise darkened abode of ignorance. From the time of the origin of human civilization as such, the methods of teaching and learning seem to have become fundamental pillars, upon which humanity as an emotion and as a species seem to have been built. Knowledge was initially imparted, it seems, from God to mankind; then from teacher to student; and finally from one human to another, both of whom are equal in all standards. Manipal, as an institution; as a city, has attained its various attributes and ‘legacies’ from all these perspectives.
Every country, state, district, and city has its own culture, beliefs and ways about approaching life as a whole. When no two individuals can be alike, one community of individuals certainly does not resemble another. Manipal as a city and as a community is certainly no different.
Prior to the establishment of the first private medical college in India, Kasturba Medical college, the land which is now so famous and world renowned for its endeavors was nothing short of dense forests, whose primary inhabitants were tigers. As in every era, wherein remarkable human minds and incredible souls, who wish to extinguish the shadows that have befallen their community, and who shall not rest until the change needed is brought about, 20th century India saw the amazing works of Dr. T.M.A.Pai.
In history, human civilization seemed to have been brought out from the impending darkness time and time again by men and women, who were said to have been “touched” by divine grace. From the incarnations in Hindu religion to Moses of Christianity, either God himself or a devout follower always managed to prevent the total annihilation by forces of evil, which were fueled by minds that rested in ignorance.
Following the independence of India, the people of the country had acquired different tastes in terms of acquiring knowledge. Unlike the Gurukuls, which were a natural evolution of the country, the British colonization brought about a sudden exposure to a more westernized way of learning. The advances in technology and the grand nature of westernized lifestyle, left Indians in a sudden state of dramatic evolution. The structure of schooling was permanently changed.
The system had changed. Irreversibly. People, however, were still the same. Knowledge as such is not limited to the mind. Knowledge includes thoughts, awareness, culture and emotions. All the aspects of knowledge are so intertwined that it is impossible to not hinder one aspect, while changing another. Though the Educational system had changed, the culture and emotions of the people had not. In a society where culture had demanded separation of the communities based on their caste, and therefore ‘profession’ a system which provided the same background for all was difficult to cope with. The withdrawal of the British, who were until that point maneuvering the change, left the system without a proper guide. Institutions continued functioning as per normal, but not always with the efficiency that was expected. These drawbacks were quite often recognized by those Indians who were educated.
Working on it, though, might bring about some discomfort in their lives, and so there was silence. Silence which lasted until a young doctor, driven by the need to help his people and provide them with highest quality education decided to establish his own institution.
In a society which nurtured the belief that one man alone cannot make much of a difference, the highly motivated Dr. T. M. A. Pai was able lay foundations for one of the more revered institutions in the world. He established the institution with essentially one motto in mind: honesty. Over time what had begun as a medical college, grew to include a hospital and other colleges. Dr Pai’s hard work and genuine drive to serve his community resulted in the establishment of Manipal University. The institute was not an overnight success story. Rather, it required all those in the institution to constantly evolve and adapt to ways in which acquisition of knowledge was most ideal. Manipal became a gathering of people, who truly believed in the fruits of hard labor and honesty. Though hard times and difficulty were in no short supply, the unwavering faith of the founder allowed honesty to persevere over and over again. This consistent victory was certainly better for many who were not too fond of hard work, and so a threat always lingered about Manipal, making the integrity of the institution quite fragile. Though fragile, no cracks are seen because the impenetrable forts of honesty and equality that surround the institution.
The fragile nature of Manipal ensured that those who decided to be a part of the institution believed in the fundamentals of the institution. Teachers, who are the human forms of God, especially in Indian culture, came for the sole purpose of imparting their knowledge to the next generation. They were teachers who aspired to inspire and had no remorse as to the reality that was their life. This ensured a superior quality of teachers, which implied as high a quality of education and therefore produced remarkably talented youths, who were sure to strengthen the world. The students of the institution, due to high quality education, managed to infiltrate the more powerful aspects of society, and were able to mould society based on their beliefs in honesty and equality. In this way, the society began to evolve towards higher standards. The Gandhian principle of “truth always triumphs” was so wonderfully manifested by all aspects of Manipal as an institution. The story is incomplete, however, without the contributions of students of the institutions to Manipal, their teachers and one another.
Many believe that the beliefs, habits and ideologies that one cultivates in college life is what will last a lifetime. The belief seems to be quite comprehensive in that college life is at a time were adolescents are molded in to adults. Though groomed from childhood by family, friends and circumstances, freedom of thought is not completely possible until the first the day of collage. No longer watched by parents and teachers, in terms of how to acquire knowledge, the student is allowed to think for himself/herself as to how to approach life. Such freedom comes at the cost of the immunity to hurdles, which until that point was provided by family and teachers. Those hurdles and vulnerabilities, however, allow the individual to think and experience difficulties, which would later prove to be a pillar of their humanity and compassion. Experiencing such magnificent moments with their peers, allows them to interact with various individuals of various beliefs. Conflicts may arise, tears may be shed, hearts may be broken; but overall the students would have learnt lessons, which would allow them to face society alone as adults. After all the turbulence which defines college life, on graduation day a group of individuals are groomed from all of the above experiences. Years later, even the heart wrenching moments will be looked upon with a smile because every moment has its lesson.
The Manipal legacy is that each grain of land, each individual and each achievement derived from here is truly inspired by life and its glory.
About the Author: Ms Sushruta Sridhar is an alumnus of Manipal Academy of Higher Education.
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