When I heard about Friendz For Life (FFL) initiative by Pondicherry Engineering College, Pondicherry for inclusion in India Vision Group and Action 2020 Team, the alumni and the current students pointed their fingers only towards Prof. E Srinivasan, Professor of ECE in their College as their motivator. More than 500 Engineering graduates passed out of that college in the earlier years are in continuous contact with Prof. Srinivasan and help financially and otherwise various projects covering poor students of their own Alma-mater. Presently, Alumni not only help the students from their own Alma-Mater, but also the poor children outside.
Inspired by his motivation, the students of this PEC have developed an unique model of supporting the needy. While, the Alumni fund the projects, the current students of third and fourth year implement them meticulously. Even before they pass out of this College, they get the feel and joy of supporting the needy. The current students, when they pass out, join their seniors to fund the projects and their juniors implement the projects. This cycle goes on successfully for the past three years.
I could not resist the temptation of speaking to Prof. E Srinivasan. When I called him over his mobile, he was leaving his home to personally greet a poor boy who had completed 10th standard, out of the support by the Alumni of the College. How has he been motivating his students for social cause? What prompted him to do this?
Prof. ES joined the teaching profession in this College in 1987. He hails from a middle class rural family and as a student, he was observing the difficulties of various children in pursuing the education. That was in his back of his mind and waiting for an opportunity to burst. After an year of his joining the job, in 1988, one student by name Mohan whose mother was a house maid found difficulty in paying the examination fee of Rs.30/-. (Since PEC is a Govt. College, the fee structure used to be very nominal and even meritorious poor students used to join the college). Sensing this problem, he immediately paid Rs.30/- from his pocket and made him to sit for the examination. That was his turning point in his life. He proudly says, “Now Mohan is a Senior Officer in Government of India establishment and he also helps the other poor children in various form”.
After this incident, he wanted to help the poor students financially. Though these students were hailing from poor background, they were highly intelligent and used to be toppers in the classes. Prof. ES used to approach outsiders and his colleagues for collection of funds. “Many of them used to support; some of them used to ridicule and even irritate by rude behaviour. Many times, I have paid out of my own salary”, recalls Prof. ES. All such disappoints did not dampen Prof. ES. He was very firm on his mission.
Instead of depending on the outsiders, he thought of motivating his own students to help their needy juniors. “Student community in the Colleges is a fertile ground. At this stage, if we seed good thoughts, the students pick up fast and convert them into a banyan tree”, beamingly shares Prof. ES. His experiment started yielding results.
His students, after they get employment started getting in touch with him, because of his genuine intentions and shared the joy of helping the needy poor students of their Alma Mater. Now around 500 of his old students are in his network, supporting the poor students in one way or other. Now, they have also extended their wings to outside the college. They help the needy children, outside the purview of PEC.
Lakshmanan, hailing from a very poor family was supported by Prof.ES in 1997 to pursue his M.Tech at IIT, Chennai. Presently, he is employed in TCS and takes active role in his mission. Another Alumni Ananda Raj (1996 pass out), presently employed in an MNC in USA supports his mission with US $200 every month. “This contribution helps me to even commit some future projects”, says Prof. ES.
Hariharan(2004 batch PEC graduate) and Nunna Prasad (1996 PEC graduate) contribute regularly for the activities. In addition, a host of PEC alumni make significant contributions over longer intervals towards helping the needy students towards pursuing their educational aspirations. Many of them have even requested Prof. ES not to disclose their names.
2003 batch of Alumni have formed a group titled “Helping Hands” and they take active role in supporting the projects. 2006 batch students started ‘Friendz for Life’ (FFL), mentioned by me earlier.
“Now that many of my students have taken up the responsibility of managing the projects, I want to spend more time in identifying the projects and in motivating more students from our College. Normally 10 percent of the students are highly charged with social mind. With a small touch, they can be brought into our fold. Another 10 percent are fence sitters. If they are motivated, they will also join the brigade. I am proud that these students do not stop with sharing the money. They vibrate good energy in the places they work. This vibration is contagious. They motivate others too to help the society in their own style. My journey continues”, concludes Prof. ES in a humble tone.
India Vision 2020 Group and Action 2020 Team salute Prof. ES and the students for developing an unique model of service to the Nation.
Prof.ES Can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org