Reminiscences of a Teacher

September 7, 2022

After completing my post-graduation, I went to Bombay (now Mumbai) for a teaching job. Getting a job was not difficult since I had Masters degrees in Psychology and Sociology. I got a job in Chandibai Mansukhani College at Ullasnagar affiliated to Bombay University. Teaching there was not a problem because most of the students were working and they were very serious in their studies. But the college used to start at 6.30 am. (Arts and Commerce classes were held in the morning i.e. from 6.30 am to 10.30 am and Science classes were held from 11 am to 5 pm.) So, I had to get up at 4 am and rush to the college.

In May 1979, my younger brother who had come down to Mangalore for holidays after his studies wrote to me that there is a vacancy of a lecturer in sociology at St Aloysius College, Mangalore. Immediately, I applied for the post because my coming down to Mangalore was very necessary to look after my mother who was suffering from brain tumour. Though we were 11 children, all had migrated to the Gulf and to other places in India. After a few days I got a post-card requesting me attend the interview on 15th May. Immediately, I rushed to Mangalore and attended the interview. Here again, getting a job was not difficult since I had double Masters degrees and experience of teaching in Bombay. I was asked to join the job on May 18 so I could not go back to Bombay to get my things.

My house was at Nirkan, Vogga which is 35 km from Mangalore. Daily I used to travel by bus and in the same year I bought a motor bike to travel daily to Mangalore. Rev. Fr Alphonsus D’Souza s.j. who was the Head of the Department used to help me a lot by giving me notes for the classes and adjusting my classes so that I could come bit late to the college. He also used to adjust my examination supervision schedules. Basically, he showed concern so that I could start my teaching career in quite earnest.

But teaching nay class control was most difficult in St Aloysius College. At that time, there were only boys and they would shout and throw arrows when the teacher turned to the board. I remember when I joined the college, another person from Kasaragod joined the History department. On the first day with great difficulty, he engaged the I PU class and, in the afternoon, he engaged the II PU class and he never returned from the next day. Anyway, I continued with great difficulty with the help of Fr Alphonsus and Fr Principal.

It may be interesting to know how I succeeded in controlling the class. After three months I had to take final BA class and I was waiting outside the class and waiting for the bell to ring. (Generally, we used to get into the class after the bell) Incidentally, I was wearing a new shirt and the boys inside were singing ‘Happy Birthday’. I was annoyed a bit and after entering the class, I asked the students a few questions which none was able to answer. So, I shouted at them for not studying. I used the same tactics when they used to shout or make noise and also used to insult them mildly and the class was controlled.

Academic improvement of the faculty is very important if one wants to remain abreast with new things in the subject. When I joined the college in 1979, there were no PhDs in the staff and when I retired in 2011 there were 29 PhDs Real academic progress. In fact, in 1990, I had been to Bombay for summer vacation. As soon as I returned, Fr Alphonsus D’Souza asked me to go to Hyderabad Central University to attend a refresher course of one month. It was a real refresher course. Learned Professors from many universities came and delivered lectures on the latest developments in sociology and the Professors from Hyderabad Central University told us the need of doing PhD.

As soon as I returned to Mangalore, I went to Mangalore University and tried to find a guide for pursuing my studies leading to PhD I met Dr G K Karanth, then Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology and he agreed to guide me. But he was a Rural sociologist and I wanted to study Urban society. So, we took two months to decide on the topic. Ultimately, we decided that I would work on a rural topic in the urban setting. The topic to be studied was: Scheduled Castes, Employment and Social Mobility - A Case Study of Scheduled Castes in Mangalore City. Within 15 days, I had to submit my proposal and I did it and started with my studies. After two years, my guide got a job in the Institute for Social and Economic Change, (ISEC) Bengaluru. Though I had to go to Bengaluru to consult him, it was a blessing. ISEC library was full of sociology and economics books and also of other subjects as Political Science, Education etc. Secondly, I could come into contact with famous Professors as Prof G S Aurora of Sociology faculty and Professors Abdul Aziz and Nadkarni of Economics faculty. In fact, when I had problem of sampling, it was Prof. Abdul Aziz who helped me. With the able guidance of Prof G K Karanth and of other Professors, I completed my PhD in 1996.

In 1992, Fr Alphonsus D’Souza called a meeting of the sociology staff of colleges affiliated to Mangalore University and we decided to form an association. With this Mangalore Sociology Association was born. Late Dr T K V Bhat of Vijaya College, Mulki was made the President and I was made the Secretary. In the same year, we decided to start a research journal, Samaja Shodhana, and the journal is still being published. Fr Joseph Nelapaty SJ then Principal of St Aloysius College (SAC) contributed Rs. 5,000/- for the first issue of Samaja Shodhana. Since 1992, Mangalore Sociology Association (MSA) has been very active in organizing workshops, seminars and conferences.

In 1993, Prof A M Shah, then Professor from Delhi School of Economics and the President of Indian Sociological Society, New Delhi enquired with his PhD student, Fr Alphonsus D’Souza whether St Aloysius College could organise XX All India Sociological Conference. In fact, he had approached five universities to organise this conference but none came forward. Fr Alphonsus D’Souza approached the Principal, Fr Nelapaty and Fr Nelapaty called a meeting of the Social Science faculty of SAC and Executive Committee of MSA. It was decided that both SAC and MSA would host the conference and I was appointed as the Organizing Secretary of the conference. I got a lot of donation for the conference. Sri Veerappa Moily, then Chief Minister of Karnataka donated rupees one lakh and inaugurated the conference. Canara Bank gave rupees 50 thousand. The conference took place from December 29 to 31, 1993. It was a grand success with 250 delegates attending the conference.

In 2002, when I had been to Agra to attend a conference, Prof Rajeshwar Prasad, President of Indian Social Science Association (ISSA), Agra enquired with me whether I could organize a conference of ISSA in our college as he had heard that we had successfully organised a conference of ISA. I told him that I have to consult the Principal about it and I would let him know later. After returning from Agra I met the Principal, Rev Fr Prashant Madtha s.j. and convinced him the need to organise such a conference. Principal readily agreed and promised Rs 50,000 from the college for the conference. The conference took place in December 2003 and it was a grand success with 300 delegates attending it.

One month before the ISSA conference, Prof. Rajeshwar Prasad came down to Mangalore to see the arrangements of the conference. He had a series of meetings with the Principal and others. At the end of his visit, I requested him to release the latest issue of Samaja Shodhana (Journal of the Mangalore Sociology Association) which I was editing. He was really impressed with the journal and after the function, he enquired with me whether I could edit a similar journal for ISSA because ISSA had a journal but it had to be closed down. I told him that I am only an under-graduate lecturer and there are many university Professors who could do the job. Pat came the reply. Richard, universities are dead and there are a few lecturers in under-graduate colleges who could do the job. Then I agreed and started the journal, Social Science Gazetteer, after getting permission from the Newspaper General of India, New Delhi. After successfully editing the journal for 15 years, I voluntarily gave up the editorship and now a Professor from Allahabad University is appointed the editor.

When I joined St Aloysius College, there was a bad habit of dictation of notes. Teachers used to lecture for half an hour and used to dictate notes during the remaining half an hour. Both Fr Alphonsus and I did not like it, so we started giving cyclostyled notes. Later, I found that sociology lecturers from other colleges used to collect cyclostyled notes from me and used to dictate in their college. In order to help the students and teachers, members of MSA came together and started writing and editing text books. First, we did for PU classes of Karnataka and then to degree classes of Mangalore University. These books because very useful for the students and teachers. They brought about uniformity in teaching and the students knew exactly how to answer the questions. Seeing the success of these books, I got the books written by famous authors for History, Economics and Political Science. For the publication of these books, I started Mangala Publications. Through this publication, I used to publish text books, reference books and also Ph.D. theses after editing them.

Another important activity which I took up in the college was counselling. In fact, I had specialized in guidance and counselling while studying for MA Psychology. I used to counsel the students in the college and sometimes used to go to their houses and counsel their parents. In one case, a student got only 15 percent marks in the terminal examination and the student was not studying in spite of my best efforts. So, I went to his house and counselled his mother as father had gone out for work. The change was really good. In the university examinations, the boy got a second class overall and got 60 percent in sociology. In serious cases such as drug addiction, I used to take the students with the parent to the professional counsellor. In one instance, a Muslim parent was so happy that on our way back served me a biriyani lunch in the hotel and inserted Rs 300 into my pocket.

My counselling was not only restricted to students and parents but also to other lecturers and the Principal. Many lecturers not knowing what is sociology, used to think that I am sexologist and used to come to me with their sexual problems. Anyway, I was able to solve their problems. Sometimes, I used to counsel the Principal also. Once the Principal beat up a boy for coming late and parking his scooter in the ‘No Parking’ zone. As a result, the students went on a strike for two days. After the strike, I went to the Principal and told him that he should not worry about discipline in the college and it should be left to the senior staff. Then I asked him to give the names of potential trouble shooters in the college and he gave four names. I called students along with their parent and counselled them. In one case, I asked the student how many hours of study he puts in per day and he said that he studies only one hour per week. Then I warned him that he should study for three hours per day otherwise I will see that he is dismissed from the college. I also told him that college is meant for those who study regularly. This really worked and afterwards there were no problems.

I was not only involved in individual counselling but also in group counselling. Once during college elections there was a fight between winners of the elections and the losers. As a result, there was a strike of two days. At the end of two days the Principal, Fr Eugene D’Souza s.j. appointed me the Chief of enquiry committee. The Principal gave the names of 12 students to enquire into. There were other two lecturers in the committee. After enquiring with each of the students, I called the victorious student and the defeated student and told them that it is not their mistake that they fight. It is the mistake of their parents and the teachers because they have not been guided properly. As soon as they heard that it is their parents’ mistake, they said that it is not parents’ mistake but their own mistake. Then I frightened them saying now that they have agreed to their mistake, I will recommend severe punishment for them. Then they said that they are really sorry and will not behave in that manner in the future. Then I told them that they are like my own sons so I will impose small punishment of suspension of three days. With this the problem was completely solved without leaving a trace.

Though the other staff were engaged in teaching, I used to see that the students also study. I wanted that all students should pass out of the college. For this home-work was the only solution for the Arts students. In this connection, I used to consider individual differences of students. For those who used get above 90% no home-work, instead these students had to go to the library and review some books. Those who used to get first class had home-work once in a week, those getting second and third class had three times a week and those who used fail would have it daily. With this, the results improved.

In addition to the above, I used to have seminar type classes where the students themselves had to prepare for the class and present it in the class. Secondly, there were group discussion and also, I used to take the students for visits. For example, second BA students had a paper on Urban Sociology so I used to take them for Mangalore Darshan and used to explain the development of the city and its problems.

For my contribution to sociology and social sciences I was awarded three awards. First was L P Vidyarthi Memorial Award for the commendable service to the Indian Social Science Association and propagation of social science in the country. The Award was awarded by The Indian Social Science Association, Agra on September 29, 2007 at Grand Hotel, Agra. Second was a Gold Medal awarded by Sulabh International Social Service Organization, New Delhi for the work on Sociology of Sanitation. The Gold Medal was presented in New Delhi on 17 September 2015. The last one was ISSA Golden Jubilee Year Award - 2017 for the development of social sciences in the country and publication of Social Science Gazetteer. The award was given on 10 February 2017 at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.

I am really happy that I joined St Aloysius College where I was able to modify the behaviour of the students and I have been able to inspire some of them. After spending little more than 32 years, I have retired in 2011. Though I have retired, I am not tired. I still continue my writing of articles and books. So far, I have written 27 books of which 10 are written after retirement. Other than that, I also guide Ph.D. students and go to different places to participate in seminars and conferences as a resource person. I am also an academic consultant for Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, New Delhi.





By Richard Pais
Dr Richard Pais is retired Head of the Department of Sociology, St Aloysius College (Autonomous), Mangaluru. He is the author of 27 books and more than 150 articles which are published in national and international journals. His latest books include Backward Classes and Social Justice, Perspectives on Social Development, Social Inclusion and Development, Sociology of Sanitation, Society and Culture in Karnataka, Action Sociology and Understanding Social Movements. He can be contacted at:
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Comment on this article

  • Ben D'Souza Prabhu, Mangalore, Bombay Bandra now in Canada

    Thu, Sep 08 2022

    You our dear Dr Richard Pais, you really need our adorable Good Greetings for the Ace Knowlege you have been imparting to all of us ! God Bless you !!!

  • A. LOURDUSAMY, mangalore

    Thu, Sep 08 2022

    narration of facts coupled with experience. Dr Pais continues his academic pursuit by writing and interacting with scholars

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Title: Reminiscences of a Teacher

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