AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. T P SASIKUMAR
Imtiaz: I am Mast. Imtiazuddin Gazi and the person I am going to interview is none other than Dr. T P Sasikumar who has visited our school recently on the 7th and 8th of October, 2015 for a two-day workshop. I don’t have to introduce him to my fellow readers, as his words are enough to describe him.
Actually, it becomes very difficult to maintain discipline among the audience especially when they senior students. But while you were addressing us, there was complete discipline. We were all mesmerized by your extraordinary oratory skills. Honestly speaking, I didn’t know anything about you before your workshop. But after the workshop, I went home and googled about you. I even read your bio data- with so many degrees, certificates, and professions. It was shocking to see that initially you were not good at studies, but slowly and steadily you started valuing education immensely, as it has made you what you are today. Is this true?
Dr. T P Sasikumar: Yes it’s true that I was not very studious. Because in those days in village school, with little intelligence or by just listening for a while in the class you can become first in the class. When I was in 8th class, I was sent to a meritorious school. There were only 27 seats in the 8th class for which 1000 people wrote a competitive exam. I managed to secure a seat and it showed that I was not that bad in studies. But that was the time when I was given an opportunity to travel outside my village. This distraction caused a little hamper in my studies. Studying in the 8th grade became a tough job. I was always the last ranked student. This was very humiliating. Then I was sent back to my old school with a TC but I was allowed to study in 9th grade. Then, in 9th and 10th grade, probably because of a shock, or the humiliation, I don’t know, or because of the other activities like looking after the cow, agriculture, etc, I again lost my concentration in my studies and I passed out with the second class, scoring only 52%. Then, for the pre university, that is todays plus 1 and plus 2, I was sent to another town. There, in the first year, I really lost all papers, except Malayalam, but in the second year I could manage a pass mark in all the subjects. Then I found that it was very difficult to get an admission in any college. After I got an admission, I changed my college 2 times because of the unsuitable atmosphere. Lastly I shifted to the same college where I had my pre university. There, I just wanted to show my teachers that I was going to be a good student. This was a self-made decision, and then finally I became successful in the graduation.
Imtiaz: For me, you are one of the best teachers I have ever met in my life. Could you describe your “best teacher” or the person that is responsible for your passion in teaching and counseling?
Dr. T P Sasikumar: I was fortunate enough to get many good teachers. We had a science teacher who used to teach through experiments. He was a good artist and a creative teacher. One day he used a convex lens to focus the sunlight on his cigarette to burn it and concluded that we don’t need a match-box to light a cigarette. I had a maths teacher who really loved his students. I remember meeting him after 10 years since I left him. When we met, he didn’t ask where I was studying, or about my job, all that was a material for him. He was evaluating somebody’s answer sheet and he just told me about the mistakes that I made when I wrote a similar exam. He was a teacher who remembered the mistakes, the style of answering, etc. of his students. When I was doing my PhD, I had a professor who was a strict disciplinarian, but he didn’t even take a lunch break. He used to take classes hours together. He even took classes when he was a vice chancellor. He used to go to the hostels and wake the students up and ask them to read. During most of my holidays I used to go to his house to learn and he used to consider me as a personal assistant for him. If some was to be filled up, he used to give that to me, so I had to know his details. I also had the privilege to have the greatest spiritual guru of Kerala as my teacher. I also had the world’s best meditation master alive that time, Swami Veda Bharati. If at all, I am slightly different and good in my ability in teaching, communicating and attracting my students, I owe this to all my teachers.
Imtiaz: Do you consider someone yet as your role model – the type of person you want to be like in the future?
Dr. T P Sasikumar: As a role model, I can’t identify one person as my role model. It may include Mahatma Gandhi as a leader or Tagore as a poet, or may be Amitabh Bachchan as a film hero. So what is my role model? It’s a big Sasikumar who has got a great dream, who is an embodiment or agglomeration of all those persons whom I know or from whom I learnt a little bit. It includes all those people who must have influenced me to make a model of a big me in me.
Imtiaz: It is said that behind every successful man there is a woman. Is there any woman’s role behind your success?
Dr. T P Sasikumar: I lost my father when I was 4 and a half years old. And I was with my mother till I got a job. I used to help her, work with her. Whatever I learnt from the class, it was my fun when I used to go behind her and explain to her what all was taught in the class. I was mischievous sometimes and that would end up in complains from others. But, I can’t remember a moment when my mother scolded me. When I become upset with my own misbehavior, I used to go back to my mother’s lap, and she used say, “don’t worry, you are going to be good tomorrow.” I think these words were a blessing from my mother that has made me what I am today.
As far as my own family is concerned, my wife is well versed in Sanskrit, where I never learned Sanskrit. So whenever I would get time, I would try to master Sanskrit which later helped me in the spiritual healing, astrology, astronomy, etc.
Imtiaz: Could you describe your village?
Dr. T P Sasikumar: I hail from Naduvil, Kannur, Kerala. It was and still is a remote village. The people, their culture and tradition are still the same. The only development that has taken place is that now there is electricity and TVs. The students there don’t have high aspirations. I was also in the same state. Luckily, I belong to a very rich and educated family, and we were the landlords in our area. I often go and spend much time in the 200 years old house, which is the oldest house in the village. But overall the situation has not changed. I have to travel about 30 km to get an English newspaper. I would consider living in a village is a disadvantage.
Imtiaz: You said that you belong to a rich and educated family and now you have founded a number of educational undertakings, organizations and projects like Jnaanam, Shiksha and DIAS. Could you tell the readers in brief about these?
Dr. T P Sasikumar: JNAANAM is a work shop that I undertake during the vacations, where you can have the personal learning interaction in an excellent learning environment. I conduct short term camps through which I teach life skills to students like communication skills, overcoming stage fears, cultural-socio-economic-traditions, etc. SHIKSHA is an organization which provides similar learning experiences to the students to let them face the multi-dimensional challenges in the modern world. DIAS, an abbreviation of Destination Inspire Aspire Success, is my dream project initiated in Kerala and is now spread across and beyond India. Here we create a learning spirit in students from the age of 12 years through 20 years. By then the students get the grip of learning everything. Students have the ability to grasp and can put large energy in acquiring and sharing knowledge. They can work fast, if put in demand. Destination IAS helps students by inculcating the spirit of taking each and every experience as an opportunity for learning new things, quenching their thirst for knowledge and enriching their academic interest.
Imtiaz: Now I would like to discuss a common problem that most of us face. When there is school, we remain busy in the academic studies. But during vacations, weekends or at the end of the term, when there is lesser academic pressure, boredom sets in. We want to do something to keep ourselves busy, but we don’t know what to do. Honestly speaking, at this time, I do a lot of stress eating and at the end of the vacation my weight increases by 10 kg. Could you suggest a solution to this problem?
Dr. T P Sasikumar: What I feel is that these vacations in various seasons is mainly for the teachers as they can’t take a leave during school days just like office workers, and for some students if they want to visit their native land and also for those who work very hard in the academics during the school days. Actually, vacation should not be enjoyed like vacation. A vacation can be used for learning, other than their academic books, like cinema, reading newspapers, general book reading, learning from peer groups, learning from traveling to different places. I have many students from the GCC countries, who visit me in my hometown during their vacation, and I have a small camp, making the right use of their vacation. Those who are the achievers of today are those who must have used their vacation time much more productive than their normal school time. If you are a good student, you will know how wisely your vacation can be spent.
Imtiaz: Lastly, what message would you like to give to our school on the occasion of The New Year?
Dr. T P Sasikumar: Actually there is no specialty for New Year except for administrative purposes. People often tell themselves that after a weekend or a holiday they will be different and start fresh. They might wear new dress or change their hairstyle and all. Similarly, a new resolution can be taken on the New Year day. But now the question is that how many times we have done it and how long we have carried the spirit of this resolution. I wish the students of your school, Indian School, Salalah and all the students in the world to take a resolution every morning that ‘I have got a life today and I am going to use it worthwhile’. If everyday such resolutions are being followed then life becomes more creative. Don’t live like a smoke without showing the fire inside you. Be active, creative, innovative and try to learn as much as you can so that you can teach as much as you can. Let this be the resolution for everyone in this New Year and I wish everyone of Indian School, Salalah, a right, peaceful, creative, productive, learning, sharing, caring 2016 from Shiksha, Jnaanam, Naduvil, Kerala. God bless you. Inshallah. We shall meet soon.
Imtiaz: We also hope that we will meet again. On behalf of my class, I thank you for this interview and that you kindly answered my questions in between your busy schedule.
Dear readers, I am Imtiaz, signing out. Thank you and have a prosperous 2016!