KOCHI: Sir, can I meet you today to discuss my career in the National Defence Academy?”A high school student from Hyderabad asked Dr T P Sasikumar, space scientist-turned-student counsellor. Dr Sasikumar agreed to meet him that afternoon.
“The boy told me that he bunked school to meet me and gain some gyan about his career. I told him that very moment that he is unfit for a job in the Armed Forces as they value integrity above all else. Bunking school does not signify this. I think he realised what I meant.”
Another day, an intermediate student from a corporate college in the city messaged him on WhatsApp to find out if he can help find the best American university for him. “He used to call me every morning and ask me where I am. Just to gauge his attitude, I would ask him where he was and would tell him that I was in a place at least 30 km away.
He would reply that it was too far for him and that he could not make it. I told him that if he was planning to move abroad, he had to get used to commutes. If he could not make it in his own city, then going abroad may not be up his alley.”
Dr Sasikumar is now the preferred ‘Counselling Guru’ of the twin cities. His popularity seems to be on the rise, with each passing day.
When Telangana was burning with the struggle for statehood and students were either taking part in the agitation or whiling away their time, silently and sweetly, Dr Sasikumar used to coordinate trips where he would take high school students to Golconda Fort to give them a history lesson. If the next day too was a holiday because of bandh, he would take them to the Jain Temple to teach them about Jainism as part of the Holiday Shiksha programme.
“That’s how I started engaging with students of the twin cities after I retired a few years ago. Today, I relish the fact that I could counsel over 8 lakh students through on-ground events, radio chats, phone and through my YouTube channel. I have over 1,900 subscribers from across the world for 1,600 YouTube videos.”
From telling students how to break up their Maths syllabus in December to be able to score 100 per cent in their final exams to helping them understand what career works for them, Dr Sasikumar, a resident of Manovikas Nagar in Hyderabad, does it all.
Just last week, he was in Sharjah addressing students from 17 schools at a three-day seminar titled ‘Be a warrior, don’t be a worrier’. He was invited to speak at a meet in Chennai in 2018 where he addressed over 100 CBSE principals in Gulf. The principals, in turn, invited him to counsel the students.
“I am often invited to speak on radio chat shows in West Asia. Sometimes I record the show from my home in Hyderabad and sometimes I am invited to the studios there. Either way, once my one-hour counselling session ends (of course interspersed with over 30 calls from Indian students studying there), I also get around 1,200 WhatsApp messages. I ensure I respond to every message, even if it means I am up the whole night,” says the multitasker.
Recently, he also addressed SR Engineering College at Warangal. Earlier this year, he was in the US to address three student camps.
“I found many homemakers came to drop their children for my class. I felt they also need some value addition instead of just being glorified drivers who picked and dropped their kids. So one weekend, we all went driving and chanted Lalitha Sahasranamam and understanding its significance.
He believes that his experience with students makes him what he is. He was Director at Academic Staff College under University Grants Commission at the University of Calicut and was Deputy Director at Directorate General of Security, Cabinet Secretariat, New Delhi before taking voluntary retirement in 2009.
He opted to be in Academics and Mentoring Youth to create dreams in them and enrich their skills towards Nation building. Dr Sasikumar initiated Mentors’ Navigation Workshop for College Teachers and reached out to colleges in Kerala.
He also had a two-year tenure as Management Professor in an Engineering College under Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University at Hyderabad.
How to get your teenager to study
Dr Sasikumar believes that jeans therapy works wonders on teenagers. “Sometimes, all that you need to do is stop being so harsh on them. Encourage them to wear their favourite jeans, T-shirt, perfume, give them some pocket money and ask them to hang out with their friends. Trust me, when they come back home, they are all set to get back to their studies. Parents put too much pressure on them and in my experience, the jeans therapy is easiest, most affordable and most effective for teens,” he quips.
Most asked question to Dr Sasikumar:
What course should I take after my 12th class or intermediate?