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Memorable footprints of an ace educator

The 90th birthday of Prof M Anandakrishnan (MA), an educator par excellence and a Padma Shree awardee, was celebrated by his students and well-wishers.

A book on Dr MA titled Memorable Footprints of an Educator was released on that day.
The first Dr M Anandakrishnan endowment lecture on Antarctica Glacier and Global Warming was presented by his son Dr Sridhar Anandakrishnan, professor at the Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, USA.
T Udhayachandran, Secretary, School Education Department, Government of Tamil Nadu and S Theodore Baskaran, Indian film historian and wildlife conservationist, Bengaluru, spoke on their association with Dr MA. Dr Anandakrishnan delivered an address.

Association with IE

IE has a long association with Dr MA. When the publication business was converted into a public limited company, Economist Communications Ltd, MA joined it as its first Director. For over a decade, IE had the privilege of his guidance in the affairs of the company. He attended the board meetings and also served as one of the members of IE’s special committees and initiatives. He presided over the IE Business Excellence Award 1996 function when Dr Manmohan Singh, then finance minister, was the chief guest.
Dr MA also helped IE in a detailed survey on the poor consumer concerns of refrigerator marketers. This was based on sampling 400 hundred housewives spread across Chennai metro on their criteria for choosing a brand. The findings pointed to the absence of concern over energy efficiency and lack of knowledge on the harm caused by the refrigerant freon.
Dr MA’s term as the Vice Chancellor of the Anna University is eventful. He put his 15 years experience in the US and UN to introduce several advanced systems and practices. The single window system for engineering college admissions is among the important ones. MA opened up the university for participation by a wide cross section of specialists from different professions. The regular discussion programmes he organised used to throw a lot of light on current and emerging issues.
During 1990-97 MA was an adviser on science and technology for Brazil. MA used to host informal dinners in Chennai for the Brazilian Ambassadors. In one such meeting IE got the exposure to the large South American country and its rich resources.
Dr MA had made phenomenal contributions to expanding computer education, standardising and simplifying the usages in Tamil. As the Vice Chairman of the Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education (TANSCHE), MA steered the higher education policy of the state. His long years of experience working for IIT-Kanpur as a faculty and later as Chairman of Board of Governors have been a big boon in charting the course of education in Tamil Nadu.
Dr Anandakrishnan was instrumental in the setting up of TIDEL park in Taramani, stated to be the largest IT facility in Asia. IE presented a special feature focus on this facility during its inauguration by then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee in 2000.
MA was not in agreement with the sidelining of merit in the caste-based reservation policy of Tamil Nadu. When the state increased reservation to 69 per cent he took bold to oppose this through the court intervention.

Priceless Suggestions for improvement in higher education

In a series of articles in Industrial Economist (IE), MA has pointed not just to the serious deficiencies in higher education, but made invaluable suggestions for improvement.
Thanks to the consistent and frequent caution by MA, for the first time in a couple of decades, vice chancellors have been selected on merit without political interference. In quick time the obsolete school education syllabus had been updated and text books for classes I, VI, IX & XI have been brought out for the current academic year, thanks to the committee headed by MA. The revised syllabus for other classes will be implemented in a phased manner in a couple of years.
MA was instrumental in the abolition of common entrance test (CET) for admission to professional courses in Tamil Nadu. He wanted the Class XII exams to be the gateway for admissions. In a recent interview to a leading daily he had expressed dismay on the mushrooming of coaching centres for NEET and other competitive exams.
If Tamil Nadu is set to reform its education system from the school stage and to regain its past glory for offering quality education, much of this is owed to the vision, exertion and leadership of dedicated leaders like MA. –V Durga

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