«Edited by Govindjee Urbana, Illinois, USA and Shyam Lal Srivastava Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India i The Cover A photograph of Krishnaji (Dada), 1980 ...»
His students in Delhi decided to commemorate the event by organizing a special seminar, I believe, on Advances in Microwaves. This was to be at Delhi University. A few weeks before the date, a truly tragic event happened. While travelling with his family, a young wife and two children in his car, Krishnaji’s son, Ranjan, met with a horrible road accident and died on the spot. We were stunned. I knew the event we had planned would have to be cancelled. But, Krishnaji set his personal tragedy aside; he could not disappoint his students. He travelled to Delhi and spoke at the symposium. He was calm and collected and performed all his duties as only he could. Later, after the event, as I was travelling with him in the same car, I did not know how to broach the subject of his son’s death. Ultimately, I did so very hesitatingly and he spoke about it in a most calm and objective manner.
He was truly ‘sthitprajna’(who is un-wavering and stable in his judgment on what is right or wrong; has the intellectual capacity to discriminate between them), and a ‘karmayogi’(who does his duties without thinking about rewards). He knew how to handle personal sorrow and how to get on with his ‘karma’ irrespective of how much it impacted him.
Professor Krishnaji is no more but his impact on our lives continues. In a small way all of his students have been touched and transformed by him. We can only hope to emulate him in some small measure as we go about our lives. Can we ever touch as many lives with as much compassion and love as he did? I guess not, but we can try, howsoever incompletely, as a measure of our respect for him, and in homage to his memory.
The Personality of Professor Krishnaji Ramji Srivastava Physics Department, Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidya Nagar–388120, Gujarat, India E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org T he education system in India has come a long way since the time when I was a student. I joined the Allahabad University for my graduation in Science (Mathematics group) way back in 1959. When we started going to the science block campus (Muir Central College with Pisa like tower) we started hearing about academic stalwarts and personalities in the three departments, i.e., Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. All this generated a mixed feeling of pride and fear among us. Pride due to the fact that we were lucky to be taught by these stalwarts, and fear due to the psychological apprehension of facing them. Professor Krishnaji of the Physics Department was one of them and I feel privileged that I was taught Electricity and Magnetism by him. (From hereon, out of affection, I will refer to him without his title.) Besides his systematic, methodical and conceptually clear lectures, he also gave demonstration of experiments, such as those on cathode rays that have remained ingrained in my mind.
After obtaining a BSc degree, I, like few of my friends, joined MSc (Physics) which I completed with specialization in Electronics in 1963. It was during these and subsequent years as DPhil and Post Doctorate Research Scholar and then as a Lecturer in the Department of Physics that I became aware of the various facets of Krishnaji’s personality as a teacher, a motivator, a trainer, a career shaper, and a stimulant for overcoming the barriers in the present and even the future life – academic or social. Thus for me, Krishnaji had undoubtedly a towering ‘Big but Kindly Brother’ personality.
It is almost half a century ago that I studied at the University of Allahabad. Many things in the education field, as well in other fields, have changed a lot. The University of Allahabad has grown and changed under pressures of proliferation and globalization giving hope for a path projected for better future. Today, the market is the main driving force in all spheres – although its fruits are not as evident at present in our society as they should have been – may be due to our societal structure and large variation in the magnitude of individual prosperity. Willingly or unwillingly, we are being driven by the forces of globalization and market even in the field of education—school, college or university level including research and development activities. As a result everything is being measured in a quantitative way. Even the quality and personality of any individual is being quantified. Efforts are being made so that every aspect of teaching and research is periodically assessed and accredited by governmental and non-governmental agencies. Even research journals and publications are being labeled in terms of impact factors and citation index numbers are being quoted. Even in such an environment, it is difficult to quantify and generalize the impact which Krishnaji had on building of our base, career and future. I feel privileged to be able to list few facts from my memory which are symbolic of Krishnaji’s greatness.
During our MSc Electronics practical (laboratory) classes, whenever we had any difficulty with circuits, he encouraged and motivated us to come back to him with the trace of circuits, starting from the output to the input and then, he would discuss clearly, with us, the concepts pertaining to trouble- shooting in the circuits.
After completion of MSc, when I approached him with a desire to pursue research, he did see to it that an arrangement was made for me to do research.
After completion of DPhil, he readily consented to be my adviser for post-doctoral research and for my senior research fellowship.
When any faculty went on a leave of absence in the department, he helped my selection and continuance as a Lecturer without a break.
After four years of temporary lecturer’s position in the department, when I was appointed, on a permanent position at Jiwaji University, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, he encouraged me to accept the new position. Moreover, he gave me many suggestions to prove myself in a new place, which I think, I utilized to the maximum possible extent to shape my future career.
Even after I had been at Gwalior for sometime, whenever I met him at Allahabad or Gwalior, he always had words of encouragement for me after enquiring as to what and how I was performing.
The above is a list of few of the instances out of many moments of direct and indirect inspiration he had given me. During the period I spent as a research scholar and faculty member, we used to meet around 4 P.M. at our usual “Tea-table” in the laboratory. We would wait for his arrival. Even at Tea-time, he would encourage academic discussions including those related to teaching and research. As a result, discussions including research work presentations became a routine during the tea time. He would participate in these discussions as much as possible with probing enquiry, saying sometimes that others present may know more in that particular specific area. During fabrication and setting up of research equipment in the microwave laboratory, I had seen him monitoring the various aspects of development and getting into discussions with everyone: students, authorities and technicians of the workshop. He never hesitated to sit with the technicians within the workshop or laboratory, giving tips and discussing the ongoing and future planning of developments in relation to equipment and facilities in the laboratory. As a result, the Microwave Laboratory of the Physics Department of University of Allahabad, at that time, had the name and fame as one of the first and best in India; it was a model for duplication elsewhere. In fact it came to be known as Krishnaji’s Laboratory and the research work carried out there became known and recognized internationally without being accredited by any agency.
I hope that the above few lines will bear some imprint and indication to the impact which Krishnaji has made on the academic life and career we all are enjoying today. Thus even in this era of impact factor kind of evaluation, it is difficult to quantify and generalize the measure of Krishnaji’s personality and greatness.
Writing these lines has given me the privilege to relive those cherished moments again in whose silent inspiration my present life goes on and on with a positive confidence to face the future without any tint of fear. To me, this is a tribute to Krishnaji’s magnanimous personality.
My Memories of Professor Krishnaji Pradip Kumar Department of Physics, Allahabad University, Allahabad-211002, UP, India E-mail: email@example.com I knew Professor Krishnaji long before I had faced him in my MSc (Final) Electronics class. I will refer to him as Krishnaji in this recollection. It was a time when, both within and outside the University of Allahabad, whoever talked about him expressed an appreciation of his teaching both in the class and in research in the Physics Department. It was my curiosity to somehow know what is in his teaching that sets him apart from all other teachers. I was too young and the only desire was to learn more. For me, he was a mystic whom I barely recognized. I was, in my view, a stupid backbencher in the class but could somehow obtain a first division in BSc examination. Due to my merit, it was easy for me to get admission in MSc (Tech), a three year course which was in the J.K. (Juggilal Kamlapat) Institute of Applied Physics, but when I consulted one of my senior family relatives at Allahabad, he advised me to join MSc (Physics) because there I would have a close association with Krishnaji. It was 1962. I had no idea of internal politics of the two departments (Physics and Applied Physics). I followed the advice and joined MSc (Physics) and this gave me an opportunity to be in close association with Krishnaji in my MSc final year, since I was selected for the Electronics option.
The bell rang. Professor Krishnaji entered the class room. He started teaching and I started learning. For others, it might be termed as normal. But for me, it was different. I was hypnotized, may be due to my initial impressions of him. I was trying to grasp every word he spoke. I felt I was learning. I felt elevated more than in any other teachers’ class. He was teaching Electronics. I was learning not only electronics, but how one should lecture in the class, and how a subject can be made lucid and palatable. I remember how his total devotion towards the subject kept all the students spell bound – a difficult subject was made simple and we never knew when the time passed.
I don’t recollect when I had such a good experience in any of my earlier classes. (I had horrible experiences especially in class seventh and eighth when one of my teachers caned me on my palm for a petty mistake, and sometimes certain disciplinary measures at home were quite uncomfortable.) Whenever, we approached Krishnaji for any simple problem in his experimental laboratory classes, he generally told us scores of other things related to that. It was amazing: now I was not a backbencher but always tried to sit in the front row, just not to miss anything he taught. I had courage to ask him questions in the class and also I started going to his home for any further difficulties.
I passed my MSc with good marks in Electronics and then I approached him for joining research with him. I was selected. This was yet another milestone in my life. He very clearly told me that if I opted for academic life I would have to lead a very simple life and I would not be able to live a comfortable and luxurious life. He further showed us the direction that if we could not lead the simple life we must choose the administrative line. I decided for the first option: A life dedicated to the growth and dissemination of knowledge.
Three in the afternoon was the Tea-time in Krishnaji’s laboratory, i.e., our laboratory. We all, in his research group, sat together for a cup of tea and snacks. Krishnaji took daily stock of progress of our work and discussed any hindrance that we might be facing. This ‘sitting together of the whole group of about 10-14 persons around a table’ was like Krishnaji taking an informal class. Here, he not only entertained us with simple stories of his past days but also taught us how to struggle to get our work done in a particular situation, to be righteous with our own colleagues and students, to live in the research group like a family. We called him Dada (meaning elder brother).
He was very particular that the senior members be respected by the junior members, and that the junior members receive due help and affection. After 1972, Dada became involved more in the University activities and became the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University. He was instrumental in improving the status of the National Academy of Sciences India. Although he was no longer with us on a daily basis, yet we always felt his presence in the laboratory. Due to economic set back in the country, we faced a lot of hardship in research and teaching in the Universities everywhere in India. Almost every one of us was trapped in situations where all the research activity was showing a decline. Our departmental library was without journals.
Only few grants were available from the government for research projects. Research scholars dwindled. Time spent by each member in the laboratory was reduced considerably. Krishnaji asked not only me, but everybody in the group, to keep up the tempo of research.
Finding one alibi or the other, every one of us was not only drifting away from research activity but also from each other in our personal relations. In 1979, our Tea-club was shut down. Krishnaji, our Dada, retired in January, 1982. Things were moving fast at the other end of the Globe. Computerization and automation changed the whole approach towards research. I could not catch up to the present new scenario. I was trailing far behind. My family problems never gave me time to repent for it. One day when I visited Krishnaji at his home, he told me, “Pradip, united you stand, divided you fall”.
I understood what he said. He clearly meant our unity was due to our research work in the laboratory, and by this time a total devotion and sincerity towards a purpose was missing in me. In my own view, I feel I could not live up to his expectations. It seems that I fell apart.
On 13th January 1997, we celebrated Krishnaji’s 75th birthday. His inspiration had moved us a long way. Till his death on August 14, 1997, we always felt that there is some one to guide us. My dreams and goals when I had met him first, and my poor, tired, and helpless state, when I last touched his feet at the time of his cremation made me revaluate myself.
I wanted to be a good teacher- I do not know where I stand now.