Sreekumar: A humble teacher with innovative ideas

PROF A G BALSUBRAMANIAN, SANKHLI | 07 December 2015 11:12 IST

My former colleague and friend Prof A Sreekumar is no more. His sons took him to the US and the best doctors there, could not save him. Cancer ultimately conquered him in the wee hours of the morning. But he will live on in the memories of the hundreds of students and academics he touched in his life.

Though born of royal lineage of the Kochi maharajas, he was always humble; almost self-effacing.  He trained to be an engineer, became familiar with the leftist ideology in his college days and as was wont by the Keralites of his times, grew a beard. The time he spent as an MBA student of the School of Management under the tutelage of doyens like Prof MV Pylee and his merry men was another life changing experience. 

Sreekumar started working in the same school as a teacher- a junior among the men who taught him but a giant intellectually. Somewhere along the line he was joined by Raji (Rajashree), his wife who lived with all the idiosyncrasies of a man in search of a different meaning in life.  Not the conventional life for him!  He then went off in search of more meaning to the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad; another mind broadening experience.

Each class which he taught was an odyssey for him to plumb deeper depths.  He would spend hours in his preparation for class.  He would try to be as innovative as the circumstances would allow.  His ideas were lofty; even as his personal bearing and his clothes were modest.  Many are the academic battles in committees he has won on the mere merit of his arguments.  He would spend hours reading the answers of the students and grading them even as administrative tasks piled up and ate into his time. Truly admirable qualities!

(Sreekumar retired as the Head of  the Department of Management faculty at Goa University)

Even when he was afflicted with the life-threatening illness, he would still be on emails and Facebook keeping up with his interests on all things academic.  Even travelling after a serious surgery. Just recovering from the after-effects of the surgery, he would be often commenting on events.  It was in the last two months that he became too ill to be active. 

His last post on FB was a video of the NY Marathon taken from his bedroom window.  Rather symbolic for a man who ran an academic marathon for all his life - irrespective of whether he was rewarded monetarily for it or not. It didn’t matter whether he got the medal or not.  Ultimately, it was the race one ran that mattered! I guessed that things were not going well when the video came up.  There was no way he would have watched it from the bedroom window if he could have stepped down and watched it at eye level. I knew he was too ill.

A life well lived.  Proud to have known you, Sree.  Great to have learnt from you.  Wonderful to have shared life with you. And to have fought with you on matters academic. Happy to have lived life with you and laughed with you.  Go in peace, knowing that you have left the world enriched.  And given so much more than you have taken………

(The writer is a Professor at Goa Institute of Mangement at Sankhli in Goa. He can be contacted on his email - click here -or 9922990250)

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