Photograph: Rohit Gautam
SON of a farmer from Lakshmipuram village in Tamil Nadu, Ramanujam was barely 15 months old when he had a severe polio attack. After many years he was put on calipers to walk. A topper throughout school and college, he is thankful to a government scholarship, which covered 25% of academic expenditure. His greatest achievement was the launch of a BA Sign Language for the speech and hearing impaired students.
Q. Tell us about your background.
A. I come from a poor family. My father was a small farmer. He was educated up to fifth and my mother was an illiterate, but with excellent managerial skills. Whenever there was a dispute between my mother and father, they asked who has got better talents – I stood by my mother!
Q. Your highest degree?
A. I started my academic journey from a government school in Lakshmipuram village. I went on to do my BA Literature from American College; MA literature - Thyagarja College; Diploma in English Studies, MLit, PhD and Advanced Diploma in Persian language & literature from English & Foreign Languages University (EFLU).
Q. Any failure in your life.
A. I never planned for my career. I was not disciplined enough. I wanted to be an author and write novels, short stories. I do start writing, but sadly they get stuck. I have got a bunch of unfinished works. They are still waiting for me to come and give a final punch. I lacked the ability to concentrate on one thing and take it to a logical conclusion.
Q. What challenges did you face in your academic career?
A. I went to school as a pillion rider on my friend’s cycle. The real challenge came when I moved to Madurai city for higher education - it was immensely tough to get a bus.
Q. Most satisfying moment as a teacher.
A. In 2008, when I won an award under UK India Educational Research Initiative Scheme - I evaluated and coordinated the launch of BA Sign Language. It was a one of a kind course for the speech and hearing impaired students. Today, we have 18 such students from nine countries. I tried to break free their reserved minds. Today, they are a confident bunch.
Q. What is your advice to disabled students?
A. Don’t allow any disability to intimidate you. There is no person in this world that can be called perfect. If you have mobility problems – then look for ramps, lift and be practical. If it can be cured from medical treatment then go for it. If medical treatment cannot give you that kind of solution then don’t be bothered – don’t make that to be your drawback. Because solutions are there, technology is there and other people’s experience is there.