For the commerce students of the Vijaya College Bangalore, no account of the college is complete without a prominent mention of their favourite teacher, Prof K Ramaraya Nayak. From 1972 to 1998, he moulded the future of thousands of students for the better, with his innovative teaching methods and sheer dedication.
For this man, realising his dreams was not easy. Born in 1941 in a village called Perdur in Dakshina Kannada district, he lost his father at the age of nine. Poverty in the family forced him to take up a job immediately and this is what he did for the next fourteen years, minus the studies. The turning point came on a fateful day, when as a waiter in the hotel, he was serving a man who was the headmaster of a local school. Ever hopeful, Nayak approached him for guidance on his further studies, only to be told sarcastically by the man that he would never amount to anything, but would always be a waiter! “His remarks pained me deeply. At that point, I decided I would study and become a lecturer. Even today, I could not have hoped for being anything else,” Nayak says.
He immediately shifted to Bangalore and began his pursuit of education along with a job as a waiter. Juggling both, he finished his Class 10 exams and as luck would have it, applied for a job as a bus conductor and got it. He was already 23 years of age by then.But he had not forgotten to study. With a gruelling schedule that began at 4 am, he used to finish his work and then attend evening classes, finish classes, study and then sleep. This punishing routine continued for eight years, and he finished his PUC, BCom, MCom and LLB course with good marks. Though KSRTC promoted him, Nayak had not forgotten his dreams of becoming a lecturer. He joined as a lecturer in Vijaya Evening College and there started his journey of helping mostly employees, who lacked any proper teaching or understanding of subjects.
“I have never taken a textbook to class. I used to create problems in the class and ask them to solve it. Sometimes even I used to take some time solving them, so it was learning process for me as well,” Nayak relates. So good were the results that year, that the thrilled students presented a gold ring as a mark of love and respect for ‘KRN sir’, who had managed to turn around their lives.
Nayak, it did not stop there. He wrote textbooks, tutored poor children and those lagging behind, was appointed as a faculty by professional bodies like CA and ICWA, fought for students when the question papers were defective and so on. He produced more than 300 ranks during his tenure of 26 years in Vijaya College. He even declined an invitation from an American University to teach, preferring to continue his efforts here.
Even today, many years after this retirement, his quest continues with his efforts to produce better teachers and as a result better students. “The teachers today are ‘raw materials’. They do not even have five percent of what it takes to become a good teacher and are too focussed on covering the syllabi and examinations. So I am trying to train teachers, so that the students will benefit.”