My school days – Mr. Shankar Mahadev Bidari
School days were my foundation days. Was very lucky to have sincere and devoted teachers
Donating gold ring to National Defense Fund at the tender age of 8 years or helping the fellow students in their studies Mr. Shankar Mahadev Bidari is large hearted gentleman. He feels every Indian should keep his/her nationality prior to the religion. He served the country as Director General and Inspector General of Police (DG&IGP), Karnataka. He gives ‘School’ a walkthrough to his childhood days that he regards as his key foundation to his success in professional life. He talks about his school and teachers. Excerpt-
I basically belong to a place called Banahatti, Jamakhandi taluka, Bagalkot district, Karnataka. Our Banahatti was a medium sized town. My family was engaged in agriculture and trading, quite active in business during second world war and earned lot of money. We had about 28 acres of land, 18 acres was dry and the 10 acres was irrigated by well. Out of 10 only about 6 or 7 acres was under farming balance was used to grow fodder for the cattle. Unfortunately we lost about 18 acres in land reforms because we had given it on crop sharing basis. Now we have about 10 acres of farmland from our forefathers that is fully irrigated.
My mother hails from Galagali village located on the bank of river Krishna in Bilgi taluk, Bagalkot district. My maternal grandfather was a full time agriculturist. My father worked as Secretary at Weavers Cooperative Society. I was born in August 1954. Being a naughty child I was admitted to the school at Bijapur only. It was a Government Kannada Boys Primary School. In those days there was no concept of pre-primary hence I was enrolled directly in first standard.
Although a government school but we had regular schedule inspections by Assistant Education Officer and Education Officer. I still remember they used to come to the school once in every three months to check how the students are being taught. They used to take an update whether students have picked up or not. That was a very good feature!
Every year for summer vacation I used to go to my maternal grandfather’s place. Once post 3rd standard annual exams I visited my grandfather. He gave me about half a tola gold ring. When I was in 4th standard, the China war broke out. One day when I was coming back from the school then a procession came with a donation box, to collect money for the so called National Defense Fund. I didn’t have anything but somehow out of a sudden I thought I should give something. So I took out my gold ring and put it into the box. My Mother observed the missing ring and after a thorough search, finally she came to know the truth. As expected I got the scolding but the satisfaction of giving was amazing.
Ours was a very traditional family. In our family only men were permitted to perform Parparan puja . I was interested in our rituals hence from the age of 9 years I used to do puja everyday after bath and then went to school.
Till 4th standard it was not very eventful. I used to regularly attend the school and practice my lessons but my life changed from 5th standard onwards. We started learning English language! We were taught by Shri Shankar Chanal, SB Chanal. He took lot of interest and taught us Kannada-English translation series 1, 2 and 3. I also used to have a private tuition in his house. Somehow I picked up the language well.
Regular examinations also commenced from 5th standard. I always used to get 1st or 2nd rank in the class. Class teacher used to check only my paper and lose the interest to correct the papers of all other students. In this way I became a sort of leader in the class. Later in 6th and 7th standard Mr. NH Dasar became our teacher. He was very good in mathematics. He taught us the subject very well. I did not pick up algebra or geometry but was good at arithmetic.
We used to start the day in the school with prarathana (prayer) followed by reading newspaper. It was the tradition to read Kannada newspaper headlines for the benefit of all the children. Those days, back in 1965 Indo-Pakistan war was happening. We used to read all the headlines so that everybody could hear. School authorities used to mark the headlines and give to us. We used to read it aloud. Each and every student was given an opportunity to read the headlines. In this way students used to become aware of the recent happenings in the country.
Then the practice of my checking the papers of all others continued up to 7th regardless of the change of class teacher also and other students used to ask me their doubts. In a way I became backbone of my class. I secured 1st position in the district in 7th class examination. It used to be a district level examination at that time. All the government schools had a joint examination. I was quite bright in school. All the changes happened from 5th onwards. All different practices in the school gave me lot of awareness on different subjects like social studies, history and current affairs etc. I used to read all the newspapers. Those days we had Indian express, Samyukta Karnataka and Prajavani. My interest widen and I acquired good knowledge on various subjects.
During primary school I was not very strong physically therefore never used to play many games. Commonly played games were kabaddi, chinni phani, dhappa dhuppi etc. I also learnt swimming. We used to swim in Krishna river or irrigation wells. Once I went swimming with my friend, Prahlad Kauthala in the irrigation well. We used to tie light weight wood called as ‘isu kattige’ or ‘harwar kattige’ on our back. Prahlad panicked and jumped on me in the water. It was situation where both of us would have drowned but fortunately owner of the irrigation well came to know and immediately rushed to save us!
We friends also used to play cricket with our own improvised cricket bat. Gary Sobers, Pataudi, Chandu Borde, Wadekar were the star players at that time. We used to go for walking and spent lot of time in the municipal library. I started reading novels in 7th standard.
Later in 8th standard I moved to SRA High School. There also I was lucky to get very good teachers, devoted and sincere to their work. One of the teachers was Mr. MS Baddur. He used to teach us English. He was very particular to make the concept clear to the students. For example when teaching about daffodils, he used to bring encyclopedia, Britannica copy from the library. Show us pictures of daffodils to make us understand about the flower completely. I started playing volleyball in 8th, 9th and 10th standard.
During our school days fees was very less. We used to pay Rs. 3 each for 1st and 2nd term. That was all! So our high school education went on very well. In our practical science classes we used to do experiments in laboratory to produce oxygen. All together I always had full-fledged and very good school especially the teachers were excellent. I did not have any problem ever!
In the SSLC examination I stood first for the centre with 86.12%. I got 86 marks in social studies, 82 marks in kannada. These were the highest score in the state. Those days it was very conservative assessment. It was smooth sailing. After high school, I had to decide what to do next?
Those days Karnataka- Maharashtra boundary dispute was on and the efforts were being made by Kannada protagonists to ensure that Nippani Kannada population increases though KLT society has established a college there. They wanted students from the hinterland Kannada speaking people to join Nippani so that Kannadians get some strength. So I shifted to Nippani for PUC, though I was not interested! As my percentage was high everyone insisted me to take up science and I obeyed.
Science was popular then in 1969 and in June same year the most eventful incident was Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. We had only one year PUC college those days. We also used to have many debate competitions. I always attained 1st prize. Somehow I could not pick up calculus, algebra and geometry etc. I got almost 2nd class in PUC!
I wanted to change the branch but by the time I decided to go to Dharwad admissions in Karnataka college were closed. Moreover with my percentage I was not sure that I will get in Karnataka. So I enrolled in Kittle College for BA 1 –with English. Just then, within 2 months I got a telegram from my native place that my father had suffered a stroke of paralysis. I went back to home. We got him admitted to Belgaum private hospital but unable to meet the expenses we then shifted him to the civil hospital (now called as district hospital). I was with the family for 3-4 months. My father recovered but was not in a very good condition to work, so being the eldest in the family I thought I should do some work to look after the family.
I went to Mumbai and started working for Blizz magazine as Dispatch Clerk. It was a weekly 2-3 days work. In the same office, one Ghadge worked as watchman. He belonged to the schedule caste, was from Solapur. One night he brought me sweets saying his brother got a telephone operators job at the salary of Rs. 210/month. I earned Rs. 20/week so I asked Ghadge the details on the job of his brother. He told, “My brother is very intelligent. He got 62% in SSLC.” I told Ghadge I have got 86% in SSLC and asked him to enquire from his brother next application date.
Within a month I applied for telephone operator’s post. And on the basis of SSLC marks exclusively I was selected for the job of telephone operator. I came back to my native place and took about Rs. 300 and came to Bangalore. Those days Bijapur- Bangalore bus fare was only Rs. 26.50. I came and started living at Palace Guttahalli along with 2 people from my village. In between Ledo talkies and Camden Hotel there was a training center headed by Assistant Engineer, Shankar Narayanan. I took training for about 3 months and got 1st position. P&T is a very clean and merit based board centre. I was given a choice as to which place you want. There was only 1 vacancy in my Bijapur district. I went and joined as a telephone operator on 20th October 1971. After a month, we had World Communication Day. For the celebrations we received Mr. S. Krishna Kumar, retired Secretary and Advisor, Government of India. As we interacted he asked details about my education and questioned, “Bidari, why can’t you study more?”
On his advice I started studying as an external candidate for BA Registrar. I paid only Rs. 56 to the University and took the registration. I didn’t get any books or notes for the course so I used to go to Bijapur and buy books for self study. I passed BA 1 with very good marks but being an external candidate I didn’t receive a rank else would have got 1st rank for sure. Then I passed BA part 2 and finally BA part 3.
Based on my marks I got about 13 class 1 jobs. First I joined as United Commercial Bank Probationary Officer Grade IV but within 20 days I was selected as Assistant Commissioner in Karnataka Administrative Service. After 75 days without even taking my salary in UCO Bank I came back and joined as Assistant Commissioner. I served as Assistant Commissioner for close to 14 months and next I was selected for IPS. I resigned and joined the service.
School days were significant!
My formal education was up to PUC 1 and rest I did on my own. My only grounding was primary school precisely from 1st– 7th standard and high school. It helped me largely. I feel my school days were very important as I learnt both languages grammar, Kannada and English. It was the key foundation. Also my general reading helped me a lot. In PUC, I read Marathi papers, spent a lot of time in library because I did not find the mathematics interesting. I must confess, “I did not learn much!”
I got National Scholarship and many cash rewards too for having stood 1st in the Centre. I got Rs. 1150 cash prize and my expenditure for PUC was Rs. 500. So I must say that whatever learnt in Government Kannada School and high school was the only the core education related foundation in my life.
In addition while working as operator, though I was studying in BA 1 I used to give coaching to students for BA 2 and BA 3. Due to this my knowledge was good in history, economics and political science.
Education is a must!
My parents never interfered in my work. However my mother didn’t want me to go to college. A boy borrowed Rs. 5000 from her to start the cloth business was earning a lot of money. Impressed with his profit figures she wanted me also to put up a big cloth shop. But my father and teachers persuaded me and made me join the college, although I went to the college only for a year.
Current Education System
Quality of education has come down! It is mainly so in Government schools. I visit many rural areas and districts. They are not being made aware of our culture, history and state. Students are not given insight into geography and economics. Sadly they are not being enthused or inspired to achieve higher things.
The quality of the teachers must improve. More than infrastructure facilities, teachers must have the determination. I feel these days teachers themselves are not well qualified. Like a factory production BA they recruit the teachers. We had our teachers qualified as Metric HTC in high school while in primary school they were 7th/8th/10th pass but were devoted to their job.
Now I find that the commitment of the teaching faculty has come down. That must improve! Our existing infrastructure is enough but the teacher’s competency has to be upgraded. Also they should be determined that we are paid for this and it is our duty. They should not take it as job instead as a mission. They should impart good quality education to their children whatever maybe the syllabus. They should try to really improve the knowledge of the students more than just attendance and examination. And they should take some personal interest also. Anyways they don’t have much work in the rural areas (government schools) and they have all the time. They should do justice to their job.
Teachers’ performance is decided by the quality of the students they produce. Quality of the education will impart on the students and the achievement of the student will determine the contribution of the teacher. That is a head stick.
Job opportunities in Government services
Every year 7-8 lakh people appear for IAS, IPS examination for maximum one thousand seats. During our days reservation for SC, ST was 200 seats in 1000 posts. 800 posts are available to us but now a days the reservation is 500. It is difficult! Further it is not necessary that youth should join only IAS/ IPS/ Income Tax/ Customs or any Government Service. Important is that whichever is the field of interest one must focus on it. It is crucial to study with confidence and must get ready. And even after joining the job it will not be worth if not done properly, everyone must be able to do justice to the job.
One should work with complete heart and mind. And whatever remuneration, perks or facilities are attained in the job, one should give back 100 times that to his/her organization. As with the job work performance the organization should be benefited minimum 100 times the remuneration plus the percentage received from that organization. And one should not only focus on job but consider the industry at large be it agriculture, medicine or engineering field etc.
Another thing is that shortcuts will never work. Unless one has got confidence and unless one works with honesty and sincerity he/she will not come up in life. Many a people think that shortcuts will work and wrong methods will work but it will never work. Corruption and tendency to help own people exist in our system yet We have to come up in spite of all these odds. There lies our strength. There lies our capacity. That is very, very important.
I never had any problem, though I didn’t know anybody. For all the examination I came, wrote and I went. For the medical examination I came by bus in the morning gave the medical examination in Victoria Hospital went back. Even for interview I reached Belgaum in the morning to give the interview and went back. I went to Delhi state for the Karnataka Bhavan I attended the interview and came back.
Quantum of corruption, irregularities whether in recruitment or anywhere in life or society has increased there is no doubt about it. But that should not be a cause for us to deter. Even now quality people and quality products are in short supply. Upright hard working honest people are in short supply, and they will be recognized only when they prove. There will be a delay in recognition but when time comes they will be in demand and shall get their dues.
Be proud countryman
Most important, be a good citizen! We should work not only for ourselves, first of all we should think of our country and more than anything else. What I am hurt is that even after 65 years of Independence we identify youngsters only with the religion, caste, state or region. We all are free to protest the religion we want, the caste we want, we are free to speak the language we want to speak or our mother tongue whatever it is and we can take pride in the region North, South, East or West region we are coming from. But we should always start thinking as an Indian, because it is our division on the basis of caste, religion or language, etc that has been the cause for our subjugation to foreign powers for more than 1000 years.
We should learn a lesson from the past mistakes. Outside our State we all should be Indians. We are free to pursue our particular religion, our particular caste practices, and we are free to speak our own language in our house but when it comes to public life, when it comes to our work we should all start thinking as Indians. If this change can come other things will get automatically solved. If we start addressing ourselves as Indians then no country or power on Earth can touch us. Our entire country, all of us, will be able to create a light with our head held high with all prosperity and strength. There is absolutely no power, and another thing we should realize if our country and politics is strong we will be strong. If our country and politics is weak we will become weak. So if our country becomes strong and we become weak individually there should be no problem at all!
As told to – Kartik Isvarmurti, Managing Editor, India School News.
Mr. Shankar Mahadev Bidari is 1978 batch, Indian Police Service officer. He had served the country as the Director General and Inspector General of Police (DG&IGP), Karnataka State. He is the most highly decorated police officer in the state of Karnataka. He hails from Lingayat family based at Banahatti, Bagalkot District, Karnataka.
He has a distinct honor of having five civil servants from a single family of six members. Except his wife, Mrs. Uma Devi all other family members are civil servants. His wife is doctor by profession while his children and their respective spouse are in service as IAS or IPS officers.
He holds many prestigious awards and social recognitions felicitated by reputed institutions and associations across the state.