September 27, 2019
The lines of a poem ‘Where the mind is without fear’ by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, are the guiding principles of the service rendered by Dr. P Kanagaraj, who has been conducting free IAS coaching classes in Coimbatore for nearly 13 years now.
Dr. P Kanagaraj, a Political Science professor at the Coimbatore Arts College at Race Course Road, tells The Covai Post, “I graduated from Chennai Loyola College and then did my post-graduation studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) New Delhi. In1990, I attempted the IAS entrance exams in Tiruchi but couldn’t pass. Finally in 1998, I passed the Central Recruitment Process (CRP) exams and was appointed as lecturer in the Government Arts College here. I taught students in my free time. That is how this free IAS coaching started. What I couldn’t do, I help others achieve.”
First Kanagaraj started coaching students at his house and two students passed the IAS mains. “Soon word spread and the class started to become crowded. So I took Sunday classes in morning and evening classes at college. About 10-12 students of that group also passed the IAS exams. Hearing this, the then Corporation commissioner Anshul Mishra requested me to conduct career guidance for Corporation schools. Nearly 12,000 students benefitted from that. He was impressed and sanctioned a Government building on Dr. Nanjappa Road in 2010 for me to conduct my classes. The building is called Uyyar Kalvi Maiyyam,” says Kanagaraj.
Now Kanagaraj gives free coaching classes in Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi also. “My students had requested this. I also have another programme called Empowering for Future, covering knowledge, aptitude and skills empowerment, that has benefitted over four lakh children. Among my students, nearly 88 have cleared IAS, IPS and IFS exams, while 4,000 candidates have passed the TNPSC, banking and other civil service exams. So this has been going on for nine years now,” says Kanagaraj.
How does he strike a balance between coaching and his college job and family? “It is all about time management. I strictly reserve Saturdays for family. My wife is a teacher, while my children are in school and college. I have never missed my Golden Sunday Programme classes in 13 years, except on very rare occasions. Some of my students are trained to conduct classes if I am away. Everything is free. I believe knowledge is for sharing not selling,” he says.
Kanagaraj’s students come from varied social-economic backgrounds. All have to sit on the floor and study. “I even coach doctors, engineers, IT and IIT graduates but can accommodate only 400 at a time. Each class lasts about two or three hours and nobody moves despite the discomfort. For my own college students, I conduct classes in Tamil medium everyday in college, which is also free,” he says.
He also conducts short-term Political Science courses and helps Arts students make documentaries, albums and paintings. “Around 70 per cent of India’s population are youth. Educating them will make us a developed nation,” says Kanagaraj.