At the very outset, I must compliment members of Vision UVCE, UVCE Foundation and Alumni groups for their extraordinary efforts and the time being invested to mark the festivities in connection with Centenary Celebrations as an outstanding success. The time is appropriate to recognize various individuals whose unmitigated services have made UVCE an outstanding educational institute it is today.
While various luminaries in diverse fields such as industry, business, education , technology, nuclear energy, humanities, etc have immensely contributed to ensure that the college emanates not only knowledge in technical field but also builds citizens worthy of being emulated. I have chosen the occasion to articulate my views on one such personality who was our Principal during the period that I was a student of the college viz. 1959-1965. I must confess with due apologies to all those other individuals concerned who will have contributed significantly for what the institution is today, that I am neither competent nor have the intentions to belittle their inputs.
I admit that I am bankrupt on unmitigated services that would have been rendered by multiple outstanding individuals either prior or post my college years at UVCE as a student. My views are restricted to one individual person who I have felt worthy of being emulated and adored.
B R Narayan Iyengar – Gentleman, extraordinaire, humility personified, generous to the core to all!
My first exposure to BRN was when I appeared for my admission interview into UCE. BRN along with Prof. D B Narasimhiah (Civil Engg) and Prof Venkatachala Iyengar (Mathematics) constituted the interviewing panel. While Prof. Venkatachala Iyengar was testing my academic accomplishments, BRN was looking into testimonials relating to sports and involvement into other extra-curricular activities. In the midst of the interview being conducted by Prof Venkatachala Iyengar, BRN remarked “Oh, he is a very good table tennis player!”. This remark gave me my first insight into the person BRN was. He was looking into achievements of his students, something more than mere excellence in academics.
I was not fortunate in any further personal exposure to BRN during college days as he did not handle any of our classes. Interactions were restricted to occasional split second encounters in college corridors or college sports news. A later meeting revealed the enormity of the gentleman he was.
Circa – 1967/68; Post my graduation in Mechanical Engineering, I had joined an Indo- Swedish company called Vulcan Laval, with manufacturing operations located in Pune. It was the Indian arm of the world wide well known as Afra Laval from Sweden who were into supplying and executing turnkey projects in the field of food engineering such as Dairy Plants, Breweries, Refrigeration Plants, Fruits Processing, Cold Stores etc. As a Project Engineer of M/s Vulcan Laval, I was executing a dairy project for Karnataka State Dairy Development Department at Hubli in 1967/68. The project involved usage of boilers and since boilers are high pressure vessels, they had to be inspected and certified by Inspectorate of Boilers, Karnataka State Government.
During one of my visits to the project sites, Mr Balakrishna, the Chief Inspector of Boilers, Karnataka State, visited us for inspection. During the course of the conversation, having realized I was an ex-student of University College of Engineering (UCE), he informed me that a team has come down from Bangalore to exam/select candidates for boiler operations in “A” Class Category. BRN had graciously accepted to help them and that he had accompanied the team. Balakrishna was generous enough to invite me to meet them in the evening as they were staying at the Railway Guest House. It was sheer delight meeting BRN.
He was pleased that his student was involved in projects that served the social responsibility of the government. Making available quality milk at affordable prices was the responsibility of the State Government, providing funds for dairy development in the State budget. This was much before Operation Flood/White Revolution Projects swept the country under the able guidance of Dr. V Kurien.
I was further reminded of BRN’s gracious gestures when he invited me to join them for dinner. My respect for BRN increased many folds when he invited me to join him the next day to be part of his team. This gesture called for an extraordinary open mind and egalitarian outlook. After all I was a very junior professional then and he was a colossus. I joined him the next morning as part of the team for interviews conducted at Karnataka Textile Mills where I spent 3 to 4 hours quality time. I was amazed at the pains he took up to put the candidates at ease. He would ask questions in English. If it appeared that the candidate was uncomfortable, he would ask in Kannada. If the candidate was still clueless, he would ask in broken Hindi and all along the effort was only to put the candidate at ease.
My perception of the person he was grew tremendously. In my scholastic career, I have high respect for several of my teachers at school level as they shaped my personality. At college level, while I respected many, BRN was the gentleman I revere most for being the outstanding person he was.
– B V Venkatadri, Batch of 1965 Mechanical