I took over as HOD of GoD on the 1st July 2001, when PKR decided finally to relinquish the HOD ship to pave way for his smooth bowing out of the DoG on superannuation in the following Jan. On the evening of June 30th I called upon Mrs. Menon (widow of late Prof. KK Menon) in her house in the Navarangam lane, Medical College PO, to inform her in person that that I will be HOD from the next day onwards and will continue to be so for the next 3 yr, i.e., till my retirement in Jan, 2004.
She was indeed gladdened by the news and immediately wanted me to help create an endowment in the U of K and in the name of her late husband, Prof. Menon. She added that she was waiting for the day of my taking over as HOD so that she could see her long cherished desire fulfilled. She also told that the required fund will be a donation of the Menon children and grand children. I replied affirmatively and agreed to work on the proposition earnestly.
The next day I took charge as HOD, but decided not to move out of the office space that occupied in Dec., 1968. The paraphernalia attached to the HOD were partly shifted to my small office from where I discharged the duties of HOD.
The Menon endowment was in my mind and after deep pondering over it I informed Mrs. Menon that Geological Society inBangalore will be the right place to bequeath the funds with, rather than the U of K. Only if the Society declined the offer stiffly, there is the question of approaching the U of K for creating the endowment.
I knew quite well that BPR never liked or approved Prof. KK Menon as a geologist by any of his standards and getting his nod on the endowment is like asking for the moon. Nevertheless, I wanted to try my luck with the society. The fact remains that Prof. Menon was a member of the first executive council of the Geological Society of India,Bangalore, and thus a foundation member of the society.
One other thing happened alongside. Roy Chacko and DSC Thampi were working on a point I raised with Chacko regarding creating a fund by soliciting donations to the tune of at least one month’s current salary of our alumni (but certainly payable in convenient installments) to the department development fund for improvements and maintenance of the general facilities in department. These two heads jointly came up with idea of creating an alumni association of the DoG and making it a vehicle for seeking and earning financial support or donations. Dr. Ekbal was the VC and he was toying with the idea of formalizing alumni associations in the departments of the university.
I do not exactly recall the year date or month. But one thing was sure. The VC inaugurated the GOSAN or Geology alumni association – first of its kind in the campus. The ceremonial meeting was held in the Botany Hall and the distinguished retired teachers were invited and The logo of the association was visualized and crafted by MP Muralidharan –one of the alumni. I, as HOD, was the president. The name GOSAN was coined by MM Nair. GOSAN held an Earthscience Expo, in the Museum Centenary Hall,Trivandrum. Prof.KK Menon commemoration lecture delivered by TM Mahadevan, preceded the inauguration of Expo. GSI, AMD, CGWB, CESS, DMG, GWD participated. In fact the GWD displayed a working drill rig at the entrance of the arena. Mrs. Menon and relatives attended the commemoration lecture in the Senate chamber of the U of K and also went around the exhibits in the EXPO..
An educational CD was created and sold to the visiting students as well as schools and the proceeds went to the general budget of the Expo. By that time GOSAN came through the teething troubles very well. Science Film show organized by GOSAN in the YMCA hall was a flop. No one turned up but for the students of DoG of U of K. Then the GOSAN decided to go to the schools with the message of earthscience through the medium of films procured from the embassies.
Clock was ticking and my HOD time was draining fast. I therefore decided to look into the endowment. I decided to approach the society with the request. I got a blunt reply. I vaguely recall the content. In the xxxx meeting of the council of the society the following resolutions were made. “Item 3. The council unanimously decided not to institute anymore endowments”. By implication my proposal also was dumped -very disappointing decision and news indeed.
I got back to M. Ramakrishnan (Society) over the phone and asked what he could do in this regard as he is very close to BPR. Quick I had the reply from MR. It was simple, and he said if a decision was made in the council only BPR could reverse it. But it happens rarely and as far as MR is concerned it is a closed chapter.
When I went toKochi for an examination, I spoke to Narayana (now in HCU) as to what he could do in this regard. Narayana said that he will talk to BP during his next visit toBangalore and fathom the mind of BP. On his return, Narayana called me and said he needed a write up on Menon’s work as a geologist etc. To me it was the spark at the end of the tunnel. I took at least two weeks to complete a write up on Menon’s contributions to Geoscience in Kerala. It was mailed to Narayana to act on.
Finally I decided to play the trump card. In a long letter I proposed to the society that a sum of Rs.100,000/- be send to the society for safe keeping/investing with the choice of keeping 50% by it and returning the balance of the interest to GOSAN to sustain itself. It is warranted by the fact that GOSAN, being a very young organization, could fold and go under at any moment (which it did) and the ultimate beneficiary would be a bank.
In fact a month after, the society required me through a letter to forward a DD for Rs. one lakh drawn in favour of treasurer of the society. I took the letter immediately to Mrs. Menon, who gladly offered me one lakh. But I suggested that I be given the DD for sending to the society. Thus was born the KK Menon biannual award for the best paper in sedimentology or related area. For me it is an unparalleled tribute.
In fact, this is the only award in the name of any Kerala geologist in the Geological Society of India. I am relieved, humbled and ecstatic.