DHARMAPURI: As soon as it strikes 7 am on the clock, R Madesh, a 58-year-old vocational teacher from Dharmapuri, slips into his signature white gloves. His school doesn’t start until 9.30 am but it is the call of the other duty, for him. Every day for the last 25 years, he has been regulating traffic on the busy State Highway that heads to Salem, in front of Adhiyaman Government Boys Higher Secondary School, one of the oldest schools in the district, where he teaches.
Every day, without fail, between 8 am to 9.15 am and between 4 pm and 5 pm, Madesh transforms himself into a traffic regulator. He believes ensuring the safety of his students is part of his duty.“When I joined the school back in 1991, one of my students was hit by a truck. Though the student survived the accident, it left a mark on me. I wanted to do something then, but could not figure out what,” he says. A few years later, when he visited Hyderabad, he came across some teachers regulating traffic to help their students cross a very busy road. “I was inspired to do the same,” he says.
Madesh says he has been there at the signal near the school every morning and afternoon since 1996. According to him, he derives strength to continue with the role with support from the public and the police. “Both police and the public have been extremely cooperative. Not once have I been prevented from regulating the traffic. Most people, though, assume that I am a police officer. A few people have even come up to me to report violations. The Dharmapuri traffic police have cooperated with me and I have been commended by three district collectors and three superintendents of police for my efforts. I consider this to be one of my greatest achievements,” he reveals.
So, how long he plans to be a knight for the students? “As long as my health permits,” he is quick to respond. The city traffic police in Dharmapuri are in awe of Madesh’s efforts. One of the personnel says, “It is one of the busiest roads in the municipality limits. While we have our police personnel here, Madesh has been invaluable in assisting them with their duties.”V Boopathi, an economics teacher at the school, says Madesh is an inspiration to other staff. “I have never seen him not doing his work even for a single day. The students adore him,” he says.
The headmaster of the Adhiyaman School says Madesh’s help has become more invaluable after the classes reopened post lockdown. “After coming back, students need time to adjust to offline classes. So Madesh’s role has been crucial now as he looks out for the students every morning,” he says.
Madesh has not only been regulating the vehicles but has also been keeping a close watch on students so that they remain in the right lane. He also filters out students who come riding two-wheelers, which is banned by the school, and calls their parents. He then counsels the parents on road safety and the importance of keeping minors away from vehicles.The traffic regulation has indirectly made the students punctual, says a Class 8 student. “It makes it easier for us to cross the road and reach the school on time,” he says.