Calamur Mahadevan – Humane professor

C Mahadevan

He made significant contributions to the development of groundwater resources in the Telangana districts of the then Hyderabad State. The mineral surveys carried out by him formed the foundation for subsequent detailed investigations. A groundwater geologist, he made pioneering work in the tapping of groundwater potential of hard rock areas.

That was Calamur Mahadevan, a professor par excellence. He not only induced his students to work hard and aim high in life but also paid their tuition fee, whenever they faced financial difficulties. No wonder many of his students occupied top positions in India and abroad.

Born to Subrahmanyam and Janaki Ammal at Butchireddipalem in Nellore district in the erstwhile Madras Presidency on May 6, 1901, Mahadevan did his M.A. (geology) from Madras University in 1927 and obtained the Doctor of Science for his research work carried out in the Indian Association for Cultivation of Science, Calcutta, under the direct supervision of the Nobel laureate, Sir C.V. Raman.

Mahadevan joined the erstwhile Hyderabad Geological Survey (which was later merged with the State Directorate of Geology and Mining, Andhra Pradesh) as a geologist in 1931. During his tenure, he made immense contribution to the development of groundwater resources. He carried an in-depth study of the `Pakhal sediments’ in Telangana region and presented the results of his research at the Indian Science Congress held at Allahabad in 1949.

After serving the Geological Survey for about 14 years, he joined the Geology Department of Andhra University. His teaching was more practical and field-oriented. He made it compulsory for students to learn the art of fieldwork for one full day every week under the guidance of a faculty member.

This was in addition to the visits to mines and places of geological interest, mining for about two months and project work. He also encouraged teachers to take up field-related problems for research.

The field training camps conducted by Mahadevan for his students were partly funded by the State Government. The investigations carried out at these camps were used by the Government to launch detailed explorations.

Mahadevan’s students have occupied top positions in prestigious organisations. They include Narayana Rao (Guahati University), Subba Rao and Srirama Rao (Jabalpur University), U. Aswaddha Narayana (Sagar University), Lakshman Dora (Cochin University), M.S. Murthy (Sri Venkateswara Univesity), Ramana Rao and Vijayam (Osmania University), the the former Chairman of Visakhapatnam Port Trust, B.K. Rao, and the former Union Home Secretary, Padmanabaiah.

Says K. Viswanath of the Geology Department: “Mahadevan had convinced the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to visit the Geology Department. The Prime Minister was impressed by the good work being done by the department.”

Besides being an excellent academician and scientist, he was humane at heart and strove to ensure that all his students were suitably placed in life, say his students and admirers, who have formed an association and conducted his birth centenary celebrations last year.

The Department of Geology was started in 1941 with a two-year B.Sc. and a three-year B.Sc. (Hons.) degree courses. The M.Sc. degree was introduced in 1944 and in 1952 a two-year M.Sc. degree course in Applied Geology was started.

Mahadevan’s tenure saw the introduction of new courses and the growth of the department. He was instrumental in starting new courses like geophysics, meteorology, applied geology, marine geology, ore dressing and geography. The department, which was housed since its inception in the Erskine College of Natural Sciences, moved into a spacious and separate building of its own in 1958.

He relentlessly pursued with the authorities concerned to ensure a fair selection process for recruitment of geologists in Government departments. His efforts culminated in the introduction of the All-India Geologists Examination, doing away with the system of interviews.

He was the Principal of AU Colleges when he died in harness in April 1962. His greatness lies in the fact his students and admirers fondly remember him even four decades after his death. A bust of this humane professor has been installed in the premises of the Geology Department.

Ref : The Hindu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *