As soon as we reach a certain point of age, our governments and employers bound by the rules hand out leave letters to everyone, but the journey of life continues beyond that stage.
Countless people remain active with full energy even after that, rather their life becomes an example for the country and society.
The life of 80-year-old K Narayan Naik from Karnataka is a ‘lamppost’ for all those who want to find meaning in the service of society and humanity after retirement.
The country had not become independent then, nor was it liberated from the zamindari system. Marginal farmers were the worst victims of this practice. It was in the same environment that Naik was born in a poor farmer family in Bantwal taluka of Dakshina Kannada district.
Such was the condition of the family’s livelihood that one morning the father’s voice was heard saying to the promising son studying in the fifth standard – ‘I cannot teach you anymore.’ Naik had just heard about the path of ‘Bapu Gandhi’ to do satyagraha to get his point.
He too sat on hunger strike. Now how long could a father remain indifferent in front of childish stubbornness? That too when the desire is to study further. The father sought courage from his waist and arms and allowed the son to go to school again.
Three years later, once again the same financial compulsion came before Naik, and this time also he followed the same path as Bapu and achieved victory. It may be difficult for today’s generation to understand that struggle because now most villages have access to primary schools and better means of transport, but Naik walked barefoot for about 16 kilometres every day, in order to break the chain of education. Do not get Holding B.Ed and MA degrees in Kannada and Hindi, Naik entered the world of teaching at the age of 20 as a primary teacher.
The bitter experiences of his personal life made Naik at an early age realize that the lack of financial resources was taking away the dreams of so many young people in society. Therefore, apart from teaching the children honestly, he used to motivate the parents that all of you can save your children from the troubles that you are facing in your life, so send them to school. A deep affection for the profession elevates Naik’s career, and after a few years, he was made a high school teacher, later serving as a school inspector.
As a school inspector Narayan Naik opened a horizon that was capable of shaping the lives of thousands of children, and that sky was ‘scholarship’! In our country, not only the central and state governments, many private organizations also give different types of stipends, but poor children or their parents do not even know about them.
Naik decided to use these ‘scholarships’ to help needy children. Whenever he was on a school tour and came to know about any poor child, without any publicity, he would make arrangements with the school administration to complete the school education of that child under some scholarship scheme. Not only this, Naik used to go to the settlements of daily wage labourers and motivate them to register themselves with the Labor Welfare Department so that their children can get the benefit of government stipends and concessions.
What Naik did as a teacher and administrator during nearly four decades of government service was part of his responsibility, but humanity will always be indebted to him for what he has done after retiring in 2001. If he wanted, he could have lived a happy life with his grandchildren.
But he always kept the fifth and eighth-grade Naik awake within himself. That is why even after retirement, he was ready to help needy children. He continued to distribute most of his pension of Rs 25,000 to help such children. Although most of the children would have returned the money, some would not get the amount. Nike never felt sorry for it.
In the last four years alone, he has visited about 870 educational institutions in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts to provide scholarships to hundreds of children who are in dire need of them. Naik not only fills their forms but sometimes even forwards their applications to the appropriate authority. In the last 21 years, he has given scholarships worth Rs 5 crore to about one lakh children. Not only does he help children, but he has also helped many educational institutions to get departmental grants.
While this selfless service made him popular among the children as the ‘Scholarship Master’, it also made him the mark of a reformer in the area. How inspiring Naik’s personality is can be gauged from the fact that some of the daily wage labourers whose children he had once helped, together built a house for a widow at a cost of Rs 7 lakh. A teacher never retires, this aphorism has been proved literally right by K Narayan Naik.