Included in this segment are the achievements of two eminent teachers working in two contrasting disciplines, both evoking abiding admiration from generations of students indebted to them.
Tonse Mangesh Rao used the Kannada language to impart practical scientific knowledge at school levels in early 20th century. He himself maintained a high level of interest in practical applications of science to design several gadgets, among them the first power gen set for a theatre in Mangalore. He even wrote "Kindergarten Kaipidi" - a lexicon of teaching methodology - a Kannada version of Madame Montessori !!
A teacher at another level was Nayel Deva Rao ,B.A., (aka 'The Bhanap Pitman') who was an Assistant Secretary in the Mysore Civil Service and Chief Reporter to the government of Mysore. He invented the Kannada version of Pitman`s shorthand. His story is one of hard work, dedication and perseverance. After retirement, he devoted all his time to invent Kannada shorthand and published a textbook on the subject in 1933. Many of his trainees gained employment as shorthand writers. He was also involved in the Cooperative movement in the Malleswaram area in Bangalore.
An Introduction to Tonse Mangesha Rao
Author: Dr. Gayathri Navada, Mangalore, 2015
Uttara and Dakshina Kannada, the centre-point of Saraswat communities, has had a number of outstanding teachers and educationists whom generations of students (who in turn gained eminence) have remembered with fondness and admiration. One such avant garde teacher, and non fiction writer, extensively using Kannada language to communicate scientific matters to school level students in early decades of 20th century, was Tonse Mangesh Rao (b. 1877). He taught at the high school level, maintained a level of interest in practical science to have a home-laboratory, design several gadgets and installed the first power gen set at a theatre in Mangalore. Mangesh Rao enthused the student community in applied sciences, and wrote "Kindergarten Kaipidi" a lexicon of teaching methodology......a Kannada version, if you will, of Madame Montessori!
He was the also author of 3 other handbooks - 'Prakruti Shastra' (Nature Study); 'Rasayan Shastra' (Chemistry); and 'Padartha Vijnan Shastra' (Physics) all written in 1929. They were reader friendly, gave interesting analogies, and were written to make it easy to comprehend ideas in Kannada... and this at a time when The English language had already become the foremost tool for learning and advancement. Mangesh Rao was one of the earliest proponents of the system of imbibing knowledge through understanding and interest, rather than by rote, a precursor of Western methodology of disseminating knowledge, and that too not in an alien tongue, but one's own language. He was doing all this, amazingly, tucked away in a remote corner of the then Madras Presidency.
We should all feel proud of teachers like him who laid a firm intellectual foundation for their students, and worked to create a de novo base for modern society.
The Bhanap Pitman
CeB thanks (late) Wg Cdr (Retd) ND Mohan VSM, for contributing this article on his father, Sh. Nayel Deva Rao
It's indeed a pleasure to write this introduction to my father Nayel Deva Rao, the inventor of Kannada shorthand. Though the Kannada language is old and rich, it appears no one had seriously attempted to formulate Kannada shorthand till he published his book in 1933. He had also thought of (and initiated) steps to introduce a Kannada shorthand typewriter, but there was neither a sponsor nor could he get financial support, in spite of the fact the project had reached an advanced stage and produced a prototype.
Sh. Nayel Deva Rao, was born in April 1875 in a small village Nayala, which is about five Kms from Bantwal, off the Mangalore-Bangalore Highway. His parents Bhavanishankar and Parvathi led a rural life farming their landed property a few kms from the banks of the Netravathi River. There were frequent floods in the rainy season inundating their lands and home. There were no schools in Nayala so he studied in Puttur at the Puttur High School. His class mates among others were Sir Vombatkere Panduranga Rao who retired as the Chief Justice of Madras High Court and Mannige Shankarnarayana Rao, who was Legal adviser to the Maharaja of Jodhpur. In those days they had to study under kerosene lamps and shared the cost collectively. They studied at St Aloysus College in Mangalore and graduated in the early 1900s from Madras University earning thier Bachelors in Arts. Fortunately my father was supported by Scholarships (one of which was mysteriously named "An Austrian Gentleman's Scholarship, No. 1") to complete his Graduation. A few months before the Final BA Examination he suffered from a small pox attack but miraculously survived to see another Day.
Jobs were scarce at the time and in order to add some skills for employment, he studied Pitman Shorthand in Mangalore and passed with flying colours. This stood him in good stead for furtherance of his career and paved the way for inventing Kannada Shorthand in later years and even became a stepping stone to the higher echelons.
His first employment was in the postal Dept in Shimoga before joining the Govt of Mysore (Now Karnataka) administrative service. Subsequently he cleared the Mysore Civil Service Exam, equivalent to IAS all India Service now. His dedication, hard work and perseverance pushed him to the position of Asst Secretary when there were only three Secretaries in the Mysore Govt running the State Administration: A Chief Secretary, an under-Secretary and an Asst-Secy. His knowledge of shorthand probably played a part in his also being appointed the Chief Reporter, Translator, etc. He was to report the legislative proceedings which were in Kannada/English. He was to translate Kannada speeches into English simultaneously as is done in the present Parliament. He was also Personal Asst to the Dewan of Mysore, Sir Albion Bannerjee, who later become the Dewan of J & K. He took premature retirement from Service though the Dewan Sir Mirza Ismail wanted to extend his service and give him an extension.
After retirement he devoted all his time to invent the Kannada Shorthand and published the first ever text Book on the subject in 1933, which was a result of his pioneering effort. Many of the students he trained gained employment in the government as shorthand writers. In later years he wrote many letters to the Chief Ministers of Mysore and the Central Education Minister to popularise Kannada shorthand with an offer to hand over all remaining copies of his text books, but to no avail.
He was responsible for establishing the Mysore Secretariat Club Cubbon Park, opposite the Century Club in Bangalore for Govt Servants. He also engaged himself in the Cooperative Movement and was a founder member of The Malleswaram Cooperative Bank, and The Malleswaram Coperative Society (Now liquidated). It may be of interest to know, that in the initial stages of the creation of the cultural section, the rehearsals of plays conducted by The Canara Union of Bangalore were often held at our house, Sitanivas on 5th Main Road, Malleswaram. Some of the regular participants whose names come to mind are Sode Shankar, Basrur Bhavanishankar, Kallianpur Surendra, Bolangdi Shivaram, Nayal Sanjiv Rao, Nayal Shantha among many others. Even against the protests by neighbours about the noise created during rehearsals, the activities went on in the silent/still nights of Malleswaram.