He is a quintessential Mysurean who loves what he does and does what he loves. Namma Mysuru’s R Chandra Prakash needs no introduction. Life may have given him name and fame, but he is not the one to sit back and relax on the laurels. Prakash knows life is a continuous learning process and he says one needs to keep exploring new things about the other side of life. A multi-faceted personality, 74-year-old Prakash always believes in keeping himself busy.
Prakash is a multi-linguist with profound knowledge of several Indian languages and qualifications in Russian, German and French languages. He is a traveler with unparalleled zeal to visit places historical and environmental importance, both in India and abroad. He proudly recalls his visits to the US, many European countries, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. He has written a travelogue Mystique of India serial for 18 weeks on Rajasthan for this paper. Besides his busy schedule, he has been writing regularly for various newspapers on issues concerning Mysuru.
In a free-wheeling chat, Prakash tells City Sunday about his experiences over the years and what life has taught him.
– R MURALI
Could you tell us something about childhood? How much of it do you relish?
Being a Mysurean by birth gave me wonderful opportunities to enjoy the beautiful environs of Mysuru – its parks, illuminated wide roads, tree lined footpath, clean mohallas, and above all the Palace, its illuminations, Dasara, family visits to Brindavan Garden, etc. I even today cherish my childhood days in Mysuru.
Something about school and college days.
My entire education was in Mysuru. This further enhanced my childhood. Those were the days of Government Schools and a few private schools run by charitable institutions. My primary schooling was in Government school located at Makkaji Chowk. Middle schooling was in Dalvoy and D. Banumaiah’schools. I did my high schooling at Maharaja’s High School between 1956- 60. My college education was at D.Banumaiah’s College of Commerce between 1960-64. I did my Post Graduation in Commerce at the Manasa Gangotri between 1964-66. During the same period I also completed my Two Year Diploma in Russian Language.
Thereafter, I did my French (1967-69) and German Diploma (1970-71) courses from University of Mysore. I was avid sportsperson. My kabbadi team at Banumannaiahs College was winners in the prestigious state level MG Srinivas Rao tournament. I also played Kho Kho. I was also into wrestling winning college level competitions. I was also into debating, both in Hindi and English and we won several city level competitions. Was adjudged Best Student of Commerce in the College in the year 1962 for my all round performances, ie both academic and Extra-curricular activities in the college. The Icing on the Cake was my selection in 1963 to represent University of Mysore at World University Service rural development Camp at Belathur, Maddur Taluk, Mandya District. This camp was organized under the leadership of then the young American returned S.M.Krishna. About 12 American students, boys and girls, had come to participate in this camp. Based on my performance in the camp I was again invited to participate in the same camp held once again in 1964.
Something about your parents and siblings.
My father, Ramachandra Sharma was a brilliant student in his middle school. But poverty not only stopped him from studying further, but also shifted him from north to Mysore in South. He was a very principled person and had very sharp memory. My mother was an illiterate person but highly pious and dedicated to all the members of Joint Family that we were. We are three brothers and three sisters, I am second oldest in my family.
Could you tell us something about your social work?
I was a scout in my middle school and participated in Jamboree held at Nanjangud in 1954-55. This should have instilled in me concern for society and civic responsibilities. In my college I was into NCC Rifles. As is stated above the World University Camp at Belathur gave me exposure to international Voluntarism . My association with Belathur continues even today. I am motivating youth to improve the conditions of the village and more particularly the government schools of the village. I have been associated with Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement [SVYM]. I was the first Honorary Director of its Vivekananda Institute of Leadership Development [ VILD earlier and now known as VLEAD]. I am happy that I could help VILD to launch its Master’s in Management of Non Profit Organisation, which is now renamed as Master’s in Development Management.
I was also associated with Dr. Sudarshan’s VGKK [ Vivekananda Girijan Kalyana Kendra] and helped in improving educational standards of its tribal school at MM Hills. And of course my association with Mysore Grahakara Parishat, [MGP] has given me immense satisfaction for having done my bit for Mysore and the citizens of my city.
You have travelled the world over extensively. What was the experience like?
Yes, I have travelled in the US, Europe, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan. One thing that is obvious is that people in some of these countries are highly civic conscious and disciplined. That is why cities and the life there are so clean and comfortable.
Something about your stint at MGP.
MGP is a premier NGO of 28 standing in the city. It has earned its own credibility for being honest, impartial, and dedicated to the causes of the citizens of the city. Having been its President between 2013 -16 provided me with highest degree of satisfaction. It was a pleasure to see and feel how government officers and the politicians positively responded to its public services and pro-public stand.
What does it take for someone to be successful in life?
Sincerity in everything that one takes up, be it education or earning a living, is of at most importance. So is honesty and hard work.
The positive and negative sides of Chandra Prakash.
Since I have been always focusing on perfection in everything I attempted to do, I have remained aloof. Being a teacher at the Post Graduate Department further increased my aloofness as I wanted to set strictest standards of teacher behavior and performance. Being impartial demands some degree of aloofness. Hence, I have been subject to be easily mistaken, or tirade by those who despised my aloofness. Some mistook my aloofness as arrogance. Well, life is one such situation where either one has the cake or one who eats it.!!!
What has life taught you over the years?
If one does not compromise on his/her basic tenets or principles, he will earn huge satisfaction, even if he loses many lucrative opportunities. At the end of all, it is not the wealth, but the inner happiness which provides genuine satisfaction.
Any particular incident that has remained etched in your mind.
My getting first rank with first class in my Master’s Degree. And being the first class of the department, that too after six years of the starting of the department!!
Most memorable day in your life.
Receiving Best Student Award from Dr.Nikkam, Vice Chancellor of Mysore University.
Are you happy with what you have achieved in life so far?
Absolutely happy, no negative feelings whatsoever from my life.
Something about Mysuru, the heritage city. Your comments.
All through my teaching career I used to say – best country in the world is India, best state in India is Karnataka, best city in Karnataka is Mysuru!! Maharajas developed Mysuru, their capital city with much love and care. They brought best practices of the Europe and imparted them in the form of institutions and governance. Mysore apart from being a City of Palaces and Gardens, is an Educational City, a Cultural city. Not many cities in the world would have had this advantage. We are lucky to have been born in Mysuru, bred in Mysuru and still living in Mysuru!!!