Chennai

Distinguished educationist V. C. Kulandaiswamy passes away

V. C. Kulandaiswamy, a seasoned educationist and Sahitya Akademi winner, died here at his residence on Saturday morning after a brief illness. He was 87. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Known as VCK among his friends and admirers, Dr. Kulandaiswamy was born in Vaangalaampalayam of Karur district in an agricultural family. He was Vice-Chancellor of three Universities — Madurai Kamaraj University (1978-79); Anna University (1981-90); and the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi (1990-94).

In his later years, he associated himself with the promotion of classical Tamil, and played a key role in organising the World Classical Tamil Conference in Coimbatore in June 2010.

After a post-graduate degree in IIT-Kharagpur and Ph.D. in Hydrology and Water Resources from the University of Illinois, United States, Dr. Kulandaiswamy began his career as a faculty in engineering at the Guindy Engineering College.

A. Mohanakrishnan, the 89-year-old former chairman of the Cauvery Technical Cell in the State government and a long-time friend of Dr. Kulandaiswamy, recalled that while doing his research in the U.S., the educationist came out with “Kulandaiswamy model,” which dealt with rainfall runoff. “Later, the model became part of hydrologic literature in the U.S. and India,” said Mr. Mohanakrishnan.

M. Anandakrishnan, who succeeded Dr. Kulandaiswamy as Vice-Chancellor, said his predecessor had believed in keeping Anna University as a unitary institution. “When he took over, he wanted to make it on a par with the IITs. For this, he wanted it to be a unitary university and not an affiliating one. When he was the V-C, he was able to maintain it as a unitary institution. I tried my best to continue his aim. His proximity to the then Chief Ministers M.G. Ramachandran and M. Karunanidhi helped,” said Dr. M. Anandakrishnan.

A long-time observer of education, K. Ramachandran, said Dr. Kulandaiswamy had fashioned the IGNOU on the lines of the Open University, Milton Keynes, U.K. When a controversy broke out in the wake of the State government’s decision in the early 1980s to hold entrance examinations for professional courses, the educationist provided technical and legal points to the government in support of the move.

Awards and titles

Known for his passion for Tamil and Tamil literature, Dr. Kulandaiswamy took to Tamil poetry and came out with a dozen collections of Tamil poems, under the name of ‘Kulothungan.’ His work of literary criticism, ‘Vazhum Valluvam,’ fetched him the Sahitya Akademi award in 1988. For his contributions to the field of science, education and engineering, he received the titles of Padma Shri in 1992 and Padma Bhushan ten years later.

Mr. Mohanakrishnan said that as the head of an official body in charge of Tamil promotion, Dr. Kulandaiswamy organised the translation of English textbooks in engineering and medicine to Tamil. K.C. Muthulakshmi, an advocate of the Madras High Court and a cousin of the educationist, said Dr. Kulandaiswamy and his brother V.C. Palaniswamy donated their ancestral wealth of over 60 acres to the cause of education. A trust named after the educationist has been functioning for over 15 years.

The funeral will take place on Sunday.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 1:05:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/Distinguished-educationist-V.-C.-Kulandaiswamy-passes-away/article16791426.ece

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