EDUCATION PLUS

Jayaseelan shines Fulbright

YOUNGACHIVERS

Jayaseelan shines Fulbright

There may not be all that many students who deliberately chose not to become an engineer or a doctor these days. There may be still fewer, who would voluntarily chose to study history for their graduation.

But then, R. Jayaseelan was always one who had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do with his life.

Jayaseelan's life is full of media interviews and felicitation programmes these days, for he is one of the 10 principal nominees from the country for the Plus Scholarship Programme (Fulbright Programme) offered by the U.S. State Department, for under-graduate study.

He says he hates the publicity blitz, but that he would not mind if other students drew inspiration from his success story.

His childhood - the travails and the time spent in the tea estates of Peermade - has come under spotlight ever since the news of the scholarship spread.

"It is true that I worked in the tea estates during vacation. Nobody forced me to work. Though child labour is bad, the work that I did as a child gave me the courage and determination to succeed in life. It also made me aware of the dignity of labour. I do not like it when people talk in sympathetic terms about the poor-boy-made-it-good phenomenon. I do not want anybody's sympathy. I want recognition for my success and achievement," Jayaseelan told Education Plus.

Jayaseelan is very clear about what he wants to do with his success and achievement.

He says he wants to become a social scientist; someone who will give intellectual guidance for society's progress.

According to him, India in general has adopted a sort of patronising attitude towards liberal arts and humanities education. In the West, this is not so. He reasons that with advancements in science and technology the progress which society makes would be on the material plane. "If this progress is not guided and oriented by a proper social philosophy, then the progress could turn dangerous."

"When there is lack of proper social guidance, progress and the advancements made on various fronts result in such things as wars," he says.

This would-be social scientist says he is very perturbed by the general impression that only private institutions and resources can provide the setting for success. As one who has had all his schooling in the Government sector,

Jayaseelan is very critical of those who deride Government institutions. "The Jawahar Navodaya School in Kulamavu, Idukki, where I studied also has adequate resources. The question is, to what extent are students able to make use of the resources. I came to Thiruvananthapuram to prepare for the Civil Services examination. I would say that the Kerala University Library is as good as any private library in the city. But people sing praises of private libraries."

He sees the Plus Scholarship as a positive side of globalisation of education. "Now the resources of the Western countries are more open than ever before, to people around the world. There is a world-wide intellectual connectivity," he points out.

Jayaseelan says he plans to make full use of the opportunity provided to him to study in an America University to arm himself with the tools needed to achieve his goals in life. After his studies, Jayaseelan would also like to work with the United Nations as a social scientist.

Eventually though, Jayaseelan would like to come back to his native soil as a person who is able to provide solutions to social problems from a global perspective.

G. MAHADEVAN

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