For him, school means sincerity, character, honesty, obedience, orderliness and leaving this hallowed place of learning with all these qualities. He is a man with a mission. Retired school teacher N P Raghvendra Rao’s passion for teaching and writing letters has changed not only his life but also turned him into an activist.
In 1962, after completing his graduation, he became a newspaper vendor. But following this, he had to face a difficult phase in his life with no work and dependent on Varada Anna meaning each week, he had to have his lone meal a day at a different house every day. This period of life made him stronger and ultimately, he landed a job at Sardar Vallabhai Patel School as a maths and science teacher.
Along with this, he took to serious letter writing which he says began very early in the primary school. His teachers at Chikmagalur used to encourage and motivate students to write letters that was published in the school magazine. “Teachers would encourage us during those days when there was no technology and appreciate us a lot which was like getting a gold medal,” Rao recollects with nostalgia.
After this, there was no looking back as he managed to come out of the darkest phase of his life with flying colours. He joined the BEL School and PU College and later became its Principal and also managed to acquire a string of PG degrees in subjects like education, sociology, political science and anthropology.
Raghvendra Rao’s association with Indian Express is 50 years old as he used to distribute the newspaper from Sarjapur area. “Even today, I cannot forget the thrill of receiving the newspaper copies tied in a roll with my name boldly typed in block letters which gave me a positive energy as well as great attachment to this paper.”
He has written 5,000 letters in the past 50 years. Raghvendra Rao makes it a point to write in capital letters so that it is legible and does not pose a problem to the press people, he explains cheerfully. Everyday, he writes two to three letters mostly on current events and on subjects and issues that inspires him.
Lately letter writing has taken the form of activism. “It is an art and one should have initiative and intuition to frame it properly. By using this forum, we can solve so many problems and also address the injustice done to the society. I have written hundreds of letters to various authorities highlighting problems affecting the common man. Some may get addressed while some may not but one should not stop writing as pen is mightier than the sword,” says Rao.
He started writing when the post card just cost ten paisa and continued when it increased to 25 paisa and is still doing it at 50 paisa. Even today, he purchases post cards worth `50 every month and after reading the newspaper from one end to another, he beautifully pens his thoughts for the day and sometimes uses a marker to highlight an issue.
“Anything that touches my heart, I simultaneously write to both The New Indian Express and the authorities. I feel happy when you publish my letters but I feel sorry when there is no reply from the authorities. In the earlier days, authorities were supposed to reply within 15 days but nowadays, nobody is bothered.”
After retirement, nowadays Rao visits colleges, schools, clubs and various other forums, speaking on subjects ranging from Mankuthimmana Kagga, Basavanna and Sarvagna vachanas.