Wing Commander K. K. Srinivasan

with 6 comments

At Mysore, in a house at Saraswathipuram, a kid grinned and started playing with a toy. The kid’s parents were looking at the child crestfallen and sad, for it was deaf and hard of hearing and they didn’t know what future it had. But here was a man who kept assuring them that it was all going to be fine and all that was needed is perseverance from the mother to train the child.

Single-handedly, he and his wife guided the couple and lot more couples of the hearing impaired children. Their leading light was their own son, whose disability had made the man —K.K. Srinivasan, a Wing Commander in Indian Air Force — to leave the cushy job and settle into the task of helping his son gain knowledge that is necessary to have a foothold in society at Bala Vidyalaya school in Madras (now Chennai).

On coming to Mysore, Srinivasan realised that there was an immediate need for a school that was not expensive and adds to the demand for hearing impaired education schools that prepare deaf and hard of hearing children to enter the mainstream society.

He started a pre-school for the hearing impaired children which he aptly named Helen Keller Pre-school for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The school was started in Mysore at the first floor of Srinivasan’s house in the International Year of the Handicapped in 1980.

So, this was the place to where the couple went to after visits to every clinics all over Karnataka. Years passed and Srinivasans were the light at the end of tunnel to the couple, who increasingly picked confidence to train their son. The kid was trained in all stages according to Woodford Aural Method and to lip-read.

Wing Commander K K Srinivasan with the Kids at his homeWing Commander K K Srinivasan with the Kids at his home

One day, the kid’s mother took him to a government school in Bamboo Bazaar. The kid was shocked by the children having similar disability to him there unable to express their thoughts cogently and rationally. He asked the mother “Ma, why did you bring me here?” The mother told him “if not for the school Mama had built and if not for the perseverance of a mother, you would not be asking me this question even.” The kid was enlightened and felt apologetic about not obeying his mother’s commands earlier in the day.

As days passed, Mama declared that the kid was ready to attend a normal mainstream school and it should be Mysore. He went along with the kid’s parents and discussed with some Head Mistresses and Head Masters of various schools in Mysore urging them to take in deaf children. Finally, the kid started attending the Ursu Boarding School, a school that accepts maximum number of hearing impaired children in the entire Mysore alone.

During weekends when time permitted the kid’s parents visited Srinivasan’s house here and then. He always hugged the kid with his trademark tight grip, and the kid smiled supremely. He always asked some questions to check the kid’s rational analytical abilities and gave some suggestions to the kid’s parents.

Mama: Neenu ivattu newspapers odideya (in Kannada) ? Did you read newspapers today ? What was the major news that you read (in English)?

The kid, confused by the sudden change of languages, stared baffled at his mother, who asked him to repay attention to Mama.

Kid: Are you asking something about the newspapers ? (in Kannada).

Mama: Smart guy, you should try and learn English slowly and try to reply in English (in Kannada).

Kid: Will try.

Mama: No trying, you can do it.

The kid grows up and manages to confound his parents by his sustained consistent academic performances at school and finally enters the college.

By now Mama’s conversations span immense stuffs. He talked about how he was proud of his son Raja, and how he finds the USA, how USA has better infrastructure for hearing impaired than India, the radical changes needed in India towards hearing impaired education and more importantly the change in attitudes of mothers and parents when training their kids, etc.

The school was relocated to some new spacious premises and he suggested the candidature of the kid’s mother, to run the school as the School’s Chief Counselor. He guided and often came to school during school fests, visits by important dignitaries and gave speeches urging the parents to keep focused and dedicated during the course of training their wards. He gave examples of this kid and several other kids whom he had successfully trained to inspire and give confidence to the parents. Raja also came and gave speeches that really moved and inspired some parents.

Srinivasan’s health began deteriorating as old age caught up with him. Still, he was surprisingly very active despite such ripe old age. He actively moved around both inside and outside the house, had still the sharp astute vision and touch in his conversations with everyone. He achieved so much that nobody else can dream of and left behind a legacy, that is the school that showed light to parents of hearing impaired children all over India till he passed away on July 10.

By now, you all must have guessed the kid was none other than me. I write this with deep pain, sorrow and not being in a position to attend his funeral at India from Florida, United States where I’m currently working. His funeral, I suppose will be attended by several dignitaries, his sons and families along with the Trustees of the Parents Association of Deaf Children as well as parents of the hearing impaired children who have immensely benefited from the man’s guidance at Mysore.

I and my parents and lots of others owed immensely a lot to Mama, as he was fondly called by all of us. He was a father figure not only to my family, but also for the distraught parents of the hearing impaired children all over India. He showed us how to walk the talk and achieve the impossible. We can only hope to take forward his legacy and inspiring vision to every breadth and length of India.

I request that the Rotary West Institute for the Mother and the Deaf Child be renamed as ‘Wing Commander K. K. Srinivasan Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.’ This will be a very small but deserved tribute to the man, who we can rightly say pioneered the training and education of deaf and hard of hearing impaired in India.


Written by ctron

July 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. I wish every place in India have such a noble soul.
    Let Mamas soul rest in peace.

    Ashwin G

    July 12, 2009 at 8:41 pm

  2. What a poignant post! The school can and should be renamed, he after all started it, so it can be done. 🙂

    What an inspiring man! Have you considered doing something to help back other such kids in India in the future either full time or as a weekend activity? Have any ideas? 🙂

    Ashwin Nanjappa

    July 14, 2009 at 10:05 am

    • My mom helps them full-time. So I could really do with a weekend activity for now. Ideas, have lot. My biggest concern is awakening the Indian society to the problems of hearing impaired children and changing mindsets of mainstream colleges/schools towards hearing impaired children. But need to implement them one day.


      July 14, 2009 at 12:06 pm

  3. What a touching tribute to an amazing man. The number of deaf children that he has helped must be astronomical.
    The school should certainly be renamed


    July 19, 2009 at 1:16 am

  4. My salutes to the Great personality K.K Srinivasan Mama, his contribution and efforts are enlightening several children and parents life.

    “Dhyanamoolam Guru Murti
    Pujamoolam Guru Padam
    Mantra Moolam Guru Vakyam
    Moksha Moolam Guru Kripa”

    Ravindra MN

    June 5, 2010 at 7:59 pm

  5. What a touching article. I too am a deaf person who has done my training at Bala Vidyalaya School, Chennai. I salute the author for his thought provoking article.

    Bhargava Ram

    September 27, 2010 at 3:45 pm

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