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My College Days – Victoria College Palakkad

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After passing S.S.L.C. Exam, I applied to Govt. Victoria College, Palakkad for admission for Pre-degree Science group. ours was the first Pre-Degree batch of Kerala university. Earlier S.S.L.C was 11 years and after that, you had to undergo a one-year pre-university course.

There was an unusually high number of first-class achievers in 1964, so there was very much competition to get desired groups. And the competition was very tough in the case of the science group. Vanaja, my family member from Vathukkat house Pallavur who has also got first-class applied for science group in Victoria. There was no Mercy college at that time in Palakkad. it was established in first July 1964. It was an offshoot of St. Mary’s College, Trichur. And most of the people did not know about the starting of the college.

I have scored maximum marks in mathematics and science and still did not get a science group and had to take an arts group. Vanaja got science group. whether the selection process was on total marks or enough weightage has been given for the opted subjects is not known. My subject for pre-degree was History, Economics, and Political Science. I took up the second language as Malayalam. Vanaja also took Malayalam as a second language. There was no pedagogy group for pre-degree at that time in Victoria college.

For Malayalam, we had Prof. S.Guptan Nair, M. Achuthan, Balakrishna Varrier, and G. Balakrishnan Nair. For English, we had Achuthan, S. Vaidya Nathan, P.V. Vaidya Nathan. Bala Krishnan and K.P Sasidharan. There was one lady lecturer also whose name, I do not remember.

For history, we had Mr. Ramanathan, Mr Andanantha Raman. For Economics there were Mr. Raghu Nandana Menon, George Thomas, Mathur Kutty, Sumangala Kutty, and Kunhi Krishnan. During my college days, there were Mr. Raghavan and Madhava Menon as Principals. Later Madhava Menon became pro-vice-chancellor of Calicut university in the year 1969. The principal’s quarters were on the main road next to the college lady’s hostel. The college had a good Library with a loft.

entrance-gate-govt-victoria-college
Entrance Gate of Govt Victoria College – source : Google.com

My college education was financed by my third maternal uncle P.V.Radha Krishnan. I had also half fee scholarship. In those days the monthly fees of S.S.L.C class was Rs 6, for pre-degree Rs 15 and Degree Rs 18. For boys NCC was compulsory. For girls it was optional. Prof Thankamani Amma of chemistry Department was Head of NCC for the Girls and Radhakrishna Menon Of Physics Department was head for the boys. There were NCC instructors for training the cadets. Many students were able to get an Unfit certificate from doctors and thus avoided NCC training. I have undergone NCC training. During my pre-degree days, I was staying at Marutha Road.

I got second class in the pre-degree examination. I got more marks in history than economics and still took economics as the main subject. During that particular year, mathematics was introduced as a subsidiary and I opted for it instead of political science. Mathematics subsidiary course for economics main was there only in two colleges in Kerala at that time. They were University College, Trivandrum and Govt. Victoria College Palakkad. at that time I had not an inkling that mathematics will become my nemesis. Both the colleges were following different syllabus. For the final year exam question paper was prepared by the teacher of university college for maths and there were many questions which were not in our syllabus. This resulted in total confusion and many students who opted for the maths subsidiary were not able to write the paper in full. For the fault of faculty members, we had to pay the price. some grace marks were awarded to the students, but the harm caused to the students was unrepairable. Students good at mathematics and expected to achieve rank tearfully left the exam hall. That year first rank for B.A.Economics in Kerala university went to my friend Ravi Prasad of Surya Chira Variam Pudussery.
Who had taken History as a subsidiary. ours was the last batch of Kerala university from Govt Victoria college. After joining for B.A. my uncle had asked me why I have not opted for B.Com. Manghat Janardhan of Kunisseri who was a distant relative has joined for B.Com.

During my Final year B.A.Exam, after two papers I caught a high fever. My father asked me to skip the exam. But I was adamant and wrote the exams. The math fiasco along with the fever landed me in total 44% marks and just scraped through. On that year education minister Shri Muhammad Koya brought a new rule of minimum 45% marks for postgraduate admission. At that time there was no scheme of re-examination for passed students to upgrade their marks. So even after having vacant seat for M.A.Literature in English in Govt. Victoria College, I was not able to do post-graduation. M.A.Economics was started in Govt Victoria College in the academic year 1970 after the formation of Calicut university.

How I got into student politics in college is a matter that I am still not able to recollect. I was an ordinary member of the National Students Union Of India which was affiliated to the Congress party.
At that time there was no Kerala students union in Govt. Victoria College. There were student unions of Congress, CPI, CPM, and RSS. I was an ordinary member of NSUI during my PDC and was not active in student politics. Nanda Kumar Lodge was the den of student politics as well as the college hostel.
Important meetings of NSUI were held in the District Congress Committee office. Mr. S. Sankaranarayanan Ex Maharashtra governor was DCC President and P. Balan was secretary. The main student leaders of NSUI were K.P.Lawrence from Melarkode and K.U.Radha Krishnan from Manjeri. During the congress split Sankaranarayanan was with syndicate congress and Balan with Indira Congress. Sankaranarayanan shared a cell with O. Raja Gopal during an emergency and later wrote an Apology letter to Indira Gandhi and rejoined the Indira Congress. K.U.Radha Krishnan was with Indira Congress and after education started practice as an advocate in Manjeri. K.P.Lawrence continued to be with syndicate congress.

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Giant Tree at Govt Victoria College – source : Google.com

During my degree class, I used to stay both at Marutha Road and Kunisseri. During Bus journey from Kunisseri to college, I came into contact with Venkata Krishnan, B.Com senior student of Vembalur Gramam. He was who made me to take membership of Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student teachers association which owed allegiance to RSS. There was no direct control of RSS on ABVP.
Prof. Balraj Madhok has started the students union in 1948 and teachers used to control the organization. In Victoria college, there was no teacher control also. ABVP was nascent at this stage in Govt Victoria College. Putheshat Rama Chandran, lecturer in Kerala Varma college was the Kerala state organizing secretary. P. Achuthan and P.V.Vaidya Nathan English lecturers were sympathizers. Devarajan the senior student from Vadakkanthara was the face of ABVP at that time.

After my joining ABVP there was a state meeting of student delegates at Calicut. I have attended the same. Mr Girija Vallabhan was elected state president. At this meeting, I met Kallayil Vijaya Kumar who is known as Vijayan Kunisseri who later became an AITUC leader and married P Shankar’s daughter. P Shankar was CPI Palakkad’s secretary at that time. Whether Vijayan attended the meeting as a mole or later joined the communist ideology, it is not known. CPI state leader C. V. Chamunni was my classmate in B.A.Economics. In my class, there was also Thomas Babu of socialist union, who was rusticated from Brannan College Thalasseri.

After Devarajan left the college, Raj Mohan, whose uncle was a Jan Sangh councilor, was the main person in ABVP. It is at this time that I joined ABVP. The name of ABVP was not even known to students at this time. I was elected president of the above unit of  Victoria College. I was also joint secretary of the debating society. I was a poor speaker. Mr.Vijaya Krishnan of third-year B.A.Economics was the secretary.
With the arrival of Kishore Bhargava and Ashok Mitra from Chittoor college, we became a force to reckon with. There was a good team of workers from junior classes like Shanmugha Sundaram from Chunnambu Thara, Tharavanat Sanal Kumar from Vadakkanthara, Gopinath from Kavil Padu, Sasidharan from Kinavallur, Hari Narayanan from Paruthipully, Kandan and Chamiyar from the college hostel and there were many sympathizers like Manambrakkat Sudhakaran, Tharavanat Gopakumar, Shanmugam from Vigyana Ramaneeyam Ashram. and Manikath Sivadas. Sivadas is now running a palliative care unit in Elapully. For the first time, we started an evening shaka of RSS in the college compound and we had to face opposition from other student organizations for the same. I was for the first time was attending a Sakha. Kinavallur Sasi Dharan was a good singer who used to sing Gana Geethams and also was a person with literary talent. Later he became a tahsildar and still connected with Sangh Parivar. Presently Kishore Bhargava is president of Palakkad district of Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

It was through Shanmugam, I came into contact with Ramaneeya Ashram. The Swami Sureshananda was known to my father and grandfather. It was through him that, I came to know that my grandfather is a Sanskrit scholar. Shanmugam who hailed from Desamangalam was studying for BSC and he was an inmate of the ashram. After graduation, he worked in the posts & telegraph department and was practically running the Ashram. He took voluntary retirement from P&T And devoted full time to the ashram. Later he was known as Shakteyam Shanmugam and used to give religious discourses in temples. another inmate was Swaminathan who was taught Sanskrit by Swami Ji and sent to pattambi Sanskrit college for further studies. M.V.Sukumaran, secretary, Palakkad Bharatiya Jansangh was another inmate. He was the younger brother of malampuzha CPM MLA M.V.Vasu Of Anapara of Kottekkad.

Rotaract Club of Palakkad, youth wing of Rotary club Palakkad was organized during my second year B.A.Class period. The convenor was Prof. S.Vaidyanathan of the English Department, A Rotarian himself. Rotaract club used to have meetings in the English department Building. Madhu Ambat, the famous cinematographer. A.Radha Krishnan whose father was a bank manager and also Velichhappad (oracle) of Vadakanthara temple, Romila daughter of A.R. Rajagopalan who was a Swatantra Party leader and who contested Palakkad town assembly seat as an independent were some members. I was also one member. Rotaract Club members were sometimes invited for functions of the Rotary club, The rotary club used to have their meeting at Music academy hall near Moin Girls High School.

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Clock Tower at Govt Victoria College Campus – source : Google.com

The most memorable, remarkable achievement during my college days was the organizing of the Gita class at M.B.Tutorials during Friday afternoon hours. Shri. P. Achuthan, the English Lecturer who was a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna order and who was attached to Palappuram Sri Rama Krishna Ashram, wanted to use the wasted hours. He made a plan for conducting Bhagavat Gita classes during the interval hours of Friday. He had the assistance of Shri. P.V.Vaidya Nathan, lecturer of English for the same. He entrusted me with the work of organizing students for the same. All ABVP members and also many other students were introduced to the teachings of Sri Bhagavad Gita. Mr.Achuthan used to take the class and Shri Vaidyanathan used to give company to him on the dias. It was very popular and successful.

It was also during my degree class the centenary celebration of the college took place. There were symposiums, seminars, cultural programs, intercollegiate competitions on elocution, essay writing etc. I got the third prize for Malayalam essay writing. P.Parameswaran and O.Rajagopal were to speak on one of the days of these celebrations, but due to the sudden and tragic death of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, President of Bharatiya Jansangh, they were not able to attend. All of us were eagerly waiting to hear their speeches, but sadly it was not to be. ABVP lost a big opportunity to strengthen their cadres.

On this note, I want to conclude writing on my college days.



Comments

  1. With vivid and meticulous details, the Author takes the reader through his college days like a river flowing without disruption. His meticulous details, discription of individuals who he was associated with him shows his memory and eye for details. I am impressed with his enthusiasm and varying interest both in Academics and Politics.

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