Reminiscence of Pre-matric, Post-matric, UG and PG days of an aerobiologist of NE India
Dr N Irabanta Singh
The writer was born on 11th February,1950 as the second siblingout of three (3) children (1st male and the third female) of Nameirakpam (L) Amusana Singh and Nameirakpam (O)(L) Maniton Devi of Kongba Uchekon Khunou, Imphal East district, Manipur. His father was a small scale businessman. As such the family earning was also of meagre income.
Pre- matric career
The primary schooling of the writer (Class I and II) was at Madan Mohan L.P School (now upgraded to UJB) (1955-57) situated near Shri Shri Madan Mohanji Temple, Imphal Yairipok road, Imphal East district, Manipur. Oja Ramananda Sharma was Head Master and Oja Yaima (Dolendro) Singh was second master. The second master was very short temper teacher. One day, Oja Dolendro Singh made a hit at the forehead of the writer by wooden framed slate for making noise in the classroom. That incident remains in the mind of the writer even today.
The present writer was admitted to R.D.S. High School by his father in class III (1957-58 session) due to the initiative of Oja Ak. Thambalango Singh, a loyal Congressman, who served the school as a clerk. The school (now abandoned) is situated at Konung mamang, Imphal East District,Manipur. In lower classes, Science subject was taught by Oja E. Sukumar Singh, I.Sc. There was no science text book in our time. School science by Radheshyam Singh Mutum was only book referred by our teachers. As a young boy, the writer had been a strong liking of the leadership. Therefore, he joined school NCC under Oja A. Jotinkumar (Rabei) Singhduring class VII (1961-62 session) and class VIII (1962-63 session) respectively. He passed the 4th NCC (A) Imphal Part II examination held in February, 1963 under the authority of Ministry of Defence, Government of India. During his school days he usually fight with his classmates for sitting spaces or older school boys while playing football or locality boys during Mukna or football play. He was less interested in studies. As such his mother always scolded him for not attentive in study and staying out of house late in the night. On one occasion, he fought with 7/8 boys from Kongba Nongthombam Leikai. He was beaten up severely resulting head injury. Next day, the father of the present writer went to the houses of those boys involved in the fighting and complained to their parents about their fight. Later the parents of the boys surrender to his father and requested him for compromise to each other. After recovery from injury, the writer stop going out of home except school time but paid full concentration in studies. He was promoted to class IX (1963-64 session) by securing 3rd position. Then, he opted for science stream. The subjects he opted were additional mathematics, mechanics plus other compulsory subjects. Science subjects was opted as 4th subject. H. Kullabidhu Singh, Head Master taught us additional Mathematics and Mechanics. Compulsory Mathematics was taught by Oja Kendrabi Singh. Science subject for class IX and X were taught by Oja Manohar Singh, M.Sc. (Physics). In those days, there was no division of science subjects into Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc. Further, no text book was prescribed for science subject. The medium of instruction was in Manipuri except English subject.
The economic condition of the writer’s parents was not sound because his father sufferfor 7(seven) years due to knee pain and ache which debarred him from earning. As such, the writer and his elder brother and younger sister had to suffer a lot. His parent could not effort to buy a pair of school uniform too. There was no electricity in our locality. During the night time lantern fueled by kerosene was the only source of light for night time study. The writer passed out HSLC examination in 1965 from R.D.S. High School under Board of Secondary School Assam, Guwahati by securing high second division.
Post Matric and Undergraduate Career
After passing HSLC examination in 1965 from R.D.S. school, the writer admitted himself in P.U.(Sc) at the D.M. College (now D.M. College of Science), Imphal for 1965-66 session. The medium of instruction in the said college was English. Since the writer came from Manipuri medium of instruction school, it was hard for him to follow class lectures given by majority of non-manipuri Lecturers. Moreover, he had been weak eyes sight. As a result he could not read/copy the words written by the lecturers on the blackboard. That was the main reason he could not do well in the final examination of P.U.(Sc.).
After passing P.U.(Sc.) in 1966 from the D.M. College under Guwahati University, the writer admitted himself to B.Sc. 1st year in the same College with Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry as optional subjects. After about 2 months Physics and Mathematics were changed to Zoology (Pass) and Botany (Honours). It was Prof. B.K. Menon, Head, Zoology Department and Prof. Y.P. Panchabhaiya, Head Botany Department, DM College who helped the writer to change to subjects like Zoology (Pass) and Botany (Honours) but chemistry was retained. While studying B.Sc. Botany (Hons) 1st year (1996-67), the writer applied for B.Sc. (Agri) training selection by Agriculture Department, Government of Manipur. Luckily he was selected for studying B.Sc. (Agri) course at G.B. Pant Agriculture and Technology University, Pantnagar, Nainital (UP).After few days of selection, the writer personally submitted an application to the Director (Agri), Government of Manipur stating that he will not be able to undergo B.Sc. (Agri) training due to poor family income ,moreover, his elder brother had already studied B.E. (Civil) (Government Quota Selection) at the Assam Engineering College, Guwahati. Looking at his application, the Director (one Punjabi Gentleman) remarked “Everybody requested him for favour of selection of their children but in your case you have declined our offer”. This remark of the then Director (Agri), Government of Manipur remains in the mind of the writer even today.
With heavy heart, the writer concentrated his studies and appeared B.Sc. Part I with Botany (Hons) examination under Gauhati University (1966-68 session) and passed the said examination by securing more than 60%. On the basis of these marks, the writer was selected for merit scholarship by the Education Department, Government of Manipur for 1968-69 session with a monthly stipend of Rs. 70/-. It was a great relief to his parents. As soon as they got their monthly stipend, the writer and his intimate friends regularly enjoyed fish curry – rice meals from two hotels on Khwairamband Keithel viz., Sharma hotel at the B.T. Road and Usha Hotel at the Paona Bazar. As an encouragement to our good result, Prof. R.V.R. Pillay of Botany Department, D.M. College use to call all Honours students (4 in nos.) to his quarter every Sunday for special coaching classes which were free of cost.
In the college days also, the writer joined Manipur Signal NCC and passed the certificate “B” Examination held in May, 1967 under the authority of the Ministry of Defence, Government of India. He further continued in Manipur Sig Coy NCC, Imphal and passed the certificate “C” Examination held in February, 1969 under the same authority. He had strong passion for joining active service but luck had destined him to another field. He appeared B.Sc. Botany (Hons) Part II Examinationof Gauhati University.Theory at D.M. College campus and Practical at Botany Department, Gauhati University campus, Gauhati – 14 held in May, 1969 and was declared to have passed the said examination by securing first class first position.
The writer got selection for M.Sc Previous (1969-71 session) Botany admission (Manipur Government quota) at the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi but on the advice of his elder brother, he got himself admitted to M.Sc Previous (Botany) (1969-71 session) at the Gauhati University, Guwahati-14.The money saving from his stipend during B.Sc Part II (1968-69 session) was enough for admission to M.Sc Previous (Botany)(1969-70 session) including hostel admission fee for 1969-70 session. He was accommodated at A.T.Hall No.7(seven) along Ph.D research scholars. Prof. L.Janmejoy Singh was on study leave from D.M College, Imphal for undergoing his Ph.D research at the Botany Department, Gauhati University. He was also accommodated at the same hostel (A.T. Hall No.7). While staying together in the same hostel, one day Prof. L. Janmejoy Singh took the writer to the Quarter of Prof. H.K.Baruah Head, Botany Department, G.U. and Prof. (Mrs) Parukutty Baruah, Principal, Cotton College, Gauhati. He introduces the writer to both Professors. He told them that he (Irabanta Singh) is interested to take up research under your able guidance after completion of his M.Sc course. Prof. H.K.Baruah smile and gave blessing to the writer for successful career. Later on, the writer became in the good book of Prof. Baruah. During the course of his M.Sc study, the writer use to receive monthly stipend amounting of Rs 110-/ given by the Education Department, Government of Manipur for 2 years. In addition to this, the tution fees Rs 17-/ per month were also reimbursed by the Education Department after producing money receipt issued by the Gauhati University for fees payment. The parent of the writer use to send a sum of Rs 100-/ per month for payment of hostel fees etc. After putting hard labour, the writer passed M.Sc.(Botany) final year in September 1971 from the Gauhati University by First Class Second Position.
The Pre and Post matric career of the writer were without any clear-cut aim in life. But U.G Career was full of enthusiasm. The research interest at the U.G. level was given by Prof. S.C Sinha and Prof. R.V.R.Pillay of Botany Department, D.M. College. At the P.G. level Prof. L.Janmejoy Singh of Botany Department, D.M. College laid foundation for future teaching and research career in Life Sciences. But it was Prof. H.K.Baruah who introduces the writer for becoming future Aerobiologist of NE India.(TSE,Sept 3, 2016)
The writer is Retd. Professor (Higher Academic Grade)/ Life Sciences, Manipur University, Canchipur, Imphal -795003