On a visit to Coimbatore, E Balagurusamy (EBG) took me to the Marudamalai Murugan temple. I noticed the admiration of the temple staff bordering on adoration! I learnt of the large donations EBG has been making to temples. The salaries he received during his three years as VC was fully donated to temples!
“Farmers, by nature, are the most perseverant. EBG, hailing from a farmer’s family, is no exception and was determined in his career,” said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who released his biography Nermayin Payanam (Journey of Honesty). The minister, former chief justice of the Supreme Court and ex-Governor of Kerala, P Sathasivam, vice-chancellors M K Surappa, S P Thyagarajan, and V Murugesan paid glowing tributes to EBG.
After completing his Ph.D. from Roorkee University in a little over two years, EBG started his career as a founder-director of NIIT. Pretty soon, he earned the reputation as a prolific writer penning textbooks on computer software. These, numbering over 40, have been invaluable guides for students pursuing higher education in computer science. From industry, he moved to Andhra Pradesh as an Adviser to the then Chief Minister, N T Rama Rao and laid the foundation for e-governance extended to panchayats.
As the Director of the PSG Institute of Management, Coimbatore and later as the Founder-Director of the Mahaveer Academy of Technology and Sciences, Bengaluru, EBG earned a name as a teacher and administrator.
EBG is remembered most for his tenure as the Vice-Chancellor of Anna University. Succeeding two illustrious educationists, V C Kulandaisamy and M Anandakrishnan, EBG expanded the reach and the quality of the university. A number of private engineering colleges, most run with political patronage, found the strict and honest administrator a hindrance to pursuing corrupt practices. They succeeded in ensuring EBG not getting a second term. Then started the era of corruption and nepotism at AU.
When Anna University became the springboard for Presidency
EBG’s term is remarkable for streamlining the administration and for inviting Abdul Kalam to join the teaching faculty and stay on the campus. It provided the springboard for Kalam to become the President of India!
EBG worked hard to get a unit of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), a brainchild of then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, located in Chennai. In a quick time, he got a large parcel of land of the highways department adjacent to the Anna University campus shifted it to Guindy.
Unfortunately, the strained relations between the Centre and the state during the Jayalalithaa regime (2001-06) and the end of EBG’s term as VC, denied the state this great opportunity.
Sushila, his better half
EBG shifted to Delhi as a Member of the UPSC and was also involved in several committees on higher education. Even as he was reaching greater heights, he lost his wife, Sushila. With a doctorate in HR, Sushila was involved in education and social activities. An extremely affable leader in her own right, she lent strength to EBG’s varied pursuits.
Quite outspoken, EBG has been critical of the ills afflicting higher education and has been freely giving expression to these.
The EBG Foundation deserves acclaim for liberally supporting a variety of philanthropic activities and now for organising so well the release of the biography of EBG written by senior journalist, Pa Krishnan.
Truly EBG is a Bala Guru Swami – Young Teacher, Divine