My school days – Shri Ashok Kheny
Mr. Ashok Kheny, 65 is currently MLA (Karnataka Assembly) and MD of the Bangalore – Mysore NICE Road project. He recalls his school days and reflects on the state of education and society today.
My school days
Basically my education is more like a gypsy as I had studied in different schools at various locations. I did my kindergarten in Rose Mary Convent, Hyderabad. Later my family reallocated to Kheni Ranjol, a village in Bidar where I studied till 2nd standard. As the village didn’t have 3rd standard we went to Gulbarga for a year and shifted back to Hyderabad. There I studied in All Saints High School. My final destination was St. Josephs Indian High School, Bangalore till SSLC. I went to Pune for my pre-degree. In those days pre-degree course was only for one year.
After pre-degree I joined Birla Institute of Technology, Pilani where I did two years of engineering. I wanted to become an electrical engineer but the institute offered ‘civil’ so I shifted to Surathkal. I completed my third, fourth and fifth year in Surathkal. I did my masters degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, United States.
Frequent change of locations during academic years makes it difficult to have a continuous friendship with people. What one loses is a friendship! Speaking about myself, though I go around Kheni Ranjol village, some people come and say that they are my classmate etcetera, we talk but I don’t have many good memories! It happens so because it is nearly 60 years.
Similarly from All Saints High School, Hyderabad I am in contact with very few people. Few to name are famous cricketer Syed Kirmani, national table tennis champion Jayant Kapadia, Indian cricket player Abid Ali, renowned doctor in Malleshwaram Dr. Ashwath Narayan and some best athletes. I feel very proud of this school as it produced some of the best professional.
Like everything has good and bad, the change of locations through my education process did some good to me as well. I travelled to many places and I met talent in various fields that had impacted me in a great way. I had a good connect with people because we had a group, we were radical in our thinking. We always believed in ‘let’s do something different’. Let’s make it different in India! Presently people talk ‘Make in India’ or ‘Swachh Bharat’ programs, we went thought these things much earlier. Our aim was to develop India through education. We never went to the streets fighting and other odd things. All we wanted to do good things.
Extra Curricular Activities
I was involved in a lot of activities in St. Josephs Indian High School as a school leader. Later in Surathkal college I became the President of the youth group. We tried to organize lot of activities and culture festival. I started the whole process. There were 18 engineering colleges in those days. I tried to organize an intercollegiate competition within these 18 engineering colleges.
Almost all of my teachers left a memorable and vital mark in my life. In particular Principal in Surathkal College is an outstanding person. He did guide me significantly. I have a lot of respect for him. A physical education teacher and science teacher in St. Josephs Indian High School had a big impact on us. It is a sad thing that we didn’t keep in touch with them.
Anybody under 21 I refer him as child. He spends more time with teachers than parents! Today birth is given by somebody but education, knowledge, culture and discipline are given by the teachers. They play an important role to enhance child’s willpower and vision. Therefore it is very important to have good teachers. We had excellent teachers! Every class had a teacher. It is not that one teacher took different things. Now I look at villages, there are no teachers. There are teachers’ who don’t know to read and write.
Today teachers are all politically appointed in schools unlike our days when they were purely appointed by qualifications. Teaching was a passion for them not a job. Teachers were happy to help children even after the class. I remember going to them several times after the class. I used to sit in the teacher’s lounge and ask for clarification. They used to be very happy to help because they felt proud to do it.
I want to tell today’s students one thing that for everything to accomplish you got to know the system. If you learn that system, the whole process becomes easy. Everything has a direction. Students must attend every class, whatever taught concentrate, after coming back home read the lessons again, practice and it will stay forever. If this process is followed then no need to study for exams. That was a trick we adopted.
I shared the same thumb rule with my twin children to finish off the lessons every day. My children will be playing around during the exams and still they would get the distinction. Complete the respective day’s work that day itself. Mind is such a powerful tool can develop it as sharp as they want.
Sad Reality in Villages
Nowadays there are no teachers like in our school days. Teaching foundation has to start from anganwadi level and habits are formed at anganwadi level that is dirty, filthy. I say so because there are people out there to rob for little food to get money, they get in anganwadis, it has become a business. Now when child is introduced to dirt and filth right at anganwadi level, what happens?
If a child gets some kind of scholarship money, as per government policy he should open a bank account. I was horrified to learn that the bank manager in the respective village asked for Rs. 50 bribe to open their account. This was told to me by many village children. Initially they were scared to speak but if one child starts to share other join. And they are usually honest! 300 children asked to give bribe manager gets Rs. 15,000 but he is forgets that he is introducing them to corruption. This is how the character is assassinated and then attempts are made to stern the society. So that’s the big change I feel active role of teaching can bring in the country.
Punishment is important
In my school days if we did something wrong the teacher punished us. I still remember somebody hitting me with the ruler on my palm for coming late or for talking in the class. So we did go through punishment and we were through the grounds. We accepted that we made a mistake and had to pay for it. That doesn’t exist now! Suppose somebody hits, parents will put a lawsuit against the teacher. The teacher says, “Okay! Why should I go through the headache? He is not my child. I will come here, spend time, collect salary and go.”
These days schools have teachers and parents meeting. They meet every month. Teachers discuss issues of child with his parents confidentially. The system has changed! We have to reverse this illusion of values that to what the values are! We have to redefine the functions of a teacher, student and parent.
tell what are the problems with the child because whatever the child, it’s not a, it’s seamless life for a child. There are no walls so whatever you learn good or bad in school you take as if to the room. Maybe he learns to smoke, he learns to smoke a cigarette, where does he learn to smoke cigarette, where does he learn to drink? It’s at school.
So, if you have parents and teachers association and then making there a certain signal on where we deserve to and their parents also get involved and no parent wants a child to be spoiled. So these are things which are missing which they should do before.
Interest in Politics
Unfortunately India is a slave country. For 2,000 years Aryans came, Muslims came and then the British came. Everybody came to conquer us! We have always been run by very few. Masses have been neutral. , very few, even villages we had zamindari system, so they were all bowled out. So they never had an opportunity to express their wish. But we’re not – their own individual character, okay willpower and own talent. It was always told what to do. Even in the corporate world people don’t take initiatives. The government or a lot of corporate world they don’t take initiatives because that is the way they are brought up, they just listen. Don’t do what you threaten to do. Now, unfortunately what has happened is in the meanwhile they come with this set aside programs for SCs, STs and minorities etcetera.
Consequently 50% of the jobs in the government are set aside for the reserved categories. Any developing country is government oriented not industry based. In Jamaica 90% of the economy is run by private industry. Some of the companies are bigger than the U.S. government. They create jobs. Here everything is centered to government as a result we hire a person not based on the merit/qualification but based on his caste/religion. what do you expect him to do? So I think we’ve reached the pendulum – too far.
We’re to start looking back at the pendulum and I’m not saying that don’t hire these people because they are discriminated for years, but as far as I’m concerned not only they’re discriminated, every Indian are discriminated by a foreign ruler.
We all had been discriminated to some extent or the other. I suggest create jobs, give people opportunity to learn then have the reservation systems like in United States where they have 10% reservation for blacks and minorities. Private people don’t have reservation similarly if you want to do, take the burden off the government creating a good administration then you put entire economy 10% to set aside, entire people. That is a burden on the government to create so many jobs for the minorities and SC/STs. Then we start hiring rest of the people, 90% purely based on their talent and then we’re able to [indiscernible]. Now if you want to see a doctor, if I fall sick I go to a hospital and emergency is there. I don’t ask what caste a doctor is.
We just are happy to have a doctor who can take care of it and usually doctors are qualified. Suppose you set aside program for the doctors who, then the guy has told me – he is really not a qualified doctor that would create problem then. Actually that’s what is happening now in lot of hospitals etcetera, we’re hiring people based on caste and religion, not based on qualification especially very high-risk oriented jobs like doctors too. So now to answer your question about how they should do it, I tell people, I tell children follow conscience.
If politics is dirty, it is been criminalized then children should change it. Stand against it but should be willing to have patience to attain the results. Allow children to do what they want. US based John Heinz became one of the richest people in the world selling tomato ketchup. So I tell children do whatever you want, do the best you can to the best of your ability and never be ashamed of it.
Not to be bulldozed by somebody else, not to be inferred by somebody else. Do to the best of, even suppose if you’re working as a janitor do the best of job. There are a lot of companies in the world who are very rich doing janitor work.
Lot of people are doing security work. Lot of people they’ve become very rich with collecting garbage. So anything you do is good because that doesn’t say that you have to be a doctor or engineer. Only thing which is important is whatever you do, do the best, to do best.
Mr. Ashok Kheny is an MLA from Bidar South and the Managing Director of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE). He is best recognized for the construction of Bangalore–Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project. He is also the Director of India International Infrastructure Engineers (IIIE) Limited.
He was born on October 5, 1950 at Bidar, Karnataka, India. He is completed his Electrical Engineering from Karnataka and did graduate studies in US.
As told to Kartik Isvarmurti, Managing Editor, India School News.