CHENNAI: With every other report hailing an IIT-Bombay alumnus for designing the insignia of the Indian rupee, Jayalakshmi of Tondiarpet was feeling more and more cross. "They keep saying Bombay-based boy and destroy the glory that my son has brought to Tamil Nadu," she rued. "They even misspell his name as 'Uday'. It's terrible!"
IIT-Bombay might be D Udaya Kumar's biggest calling card, but the fact that the 32-year-old design genius was born in Marur near Tiruvannamalai and raised in North Chennai is indisputable.
Visiting their modest dwelling, it was evident that Udaya, as his family affectionately calls him, was a wonderkind, right from his pre-school years. Udaya did his schooling in La Chateleine. "He would participate in every art competition and win, but never at the cost of his studies," explained father N Dharmalingam, a former DMK MLA.
He graduated from Anna University with a degree in architecture and also dabbled in sports. "He was the first student to be council president and sports captain at the same time. He loved football and watched the FIFA World Cup all night when he was here last week," said his mother adoringly. Udaya left for Guwahati just three days ago.
At present, he is an Assistant Professor at IIT-Guwahati for the first design-based course started in an IIT. But that has worried both his mother and father. "Why does he have to work so far away?" wondered his mother. His father, however, was more concerned about the Maoists.
"He always did things independently and was secretive about it. Applying for IIT, competitions, his thesis, working for CHIP Magazine; there was always a suspense about what he was going to do next," reminisced Raj Kumar, his elder brother who is a civil engineer in Sharjah. "He submitted a design for the rupee almost a year ago. We were all thrilled when he got selected for the final five and got to meet the Prime Minister in Delhi," he added.
"When the news that he won came, we were all so overjoyed. We could not wait to tell all the people in our village about our son's achievement," said Dharmalingam.
Udaya's family is hoping for one more achievement from their son. "He has completed a PhD thesis on the evolution of the Tamil typography through the ages. We hope his contribution to Tamil will always be remembered," Dharmalingam concludes.