Meet this 92-year-old teacher, a rock star for students for 70 years
For Prem Chand Dandiya, teaching was in his stars. He was born on September 5. Dandiya is a rock star for his students who are all praise for his youthful exuberance and immaculate dressing. Dandiya was a student at BHU when Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the vice chancellor. Read more to know the secret of his zeal and his love for teaching.Updated: Mar 02, 2019 11:33 IST
Prem Chand Dandiya became a teacher at 22 – when most of his students in Jaipur’s Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Medical College were almost his age. At 92, he continues to take classes at Rajasthan’s biggest and oldest medical college-- when some of his students are the age of his grandchildren .
In January this year, he completed 70 years of teaching at college, with a gap of 10 years when he was working at various other places, including his alma mater, the Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Dandiya was a student at BHU when Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first vice-president ,was the vice chancellor. In 1984, the pharmacology professor briefly became the acting V-C of the university in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
Only two of his students from the first batch are alive. And when 14 students of the first batch decided to organise a golden jubilee celebration and felicitate their teachers in 2007, only Dandiya was alive.
Ask him about his longevity, this distinguished emeritus professor at the department of pharmacology will tell you about the blessings of a disease-free life. “No blood pressure, no diabetes, or any of the usual ailments of the old age,” says Dandiya who reaches college at 10.30 am everyday. Age for him is just a number.
“I can do everything a man one fourth my age does,” he says, adding that he gets up at 6am, does 40 minutes of yoga, drives to the University of Rajasthan for a 3km walk at 7am, and walks for 40 minutes in the evening, too. In the summers, he swims for 24 minutes – the time he takes to swim up and down the full length pool twice – at Golf Club. On most evenings, he enjoys a drink before retiring for the day.
Dandiya recalls how the lecture halls of the college were under construction when he took the first class in 1949. “Pharmacology was taught in the third year. From the second batch onwards, our own halls came up,” he says.
For Dandiya, teaching was in his stars. He was born on September 5. According to him the late 1960s and the early 1970s were remarkable years for the development of pharmacology in the country.
“Quite a few young teachers went abroad on scholarships and fellowships for advanced training. I was one of them, going to University of Toronto, Canada, for a doctorate,” he says.
Dandiya hails from a family of jewellers. One of his two sons – Rohit, 66 – followed his foot steps and is now a doctor in Florida; another son, 63-year-old Vikram, continued the family business but eventually gave it up to become a Vipassana trainer. His wife, Chandrakanta Dandiya, retired from the University of Rajasthan in Jaipur as director of adult education department.
Dandiya retired from the SMS Medical College in 1978 as the head of pharmacology department. The same year he went to Libya to set up a department of pharmacology at Alfatah University in Tripoli. On his return to India in 1984, he joined BHU as head of pharmaceutics department. In 1991, he returned to SMS Medical College as emeritus professor. He was a visiting professor in Delhi University and Jamia Hamdard before his return to Jaipur.
“In every class I teach, I find students whose parents or even grandparents had been my students at some point,” Dandiya says.
He delivered a lecture to the 70th batch of SMS Medical College last year. His last class at the college was four months ago. There are currently 11 post-doctoral fellows registered with him for research.
Dandiya is a rock star for his students who are all praise for his youthful exuberance and immaculate dressing. “We had four girls in our batch, and this charismatic pharmacy teacher hogged all the attention,” says BR Madan, former head of pharmacology department at SP Medical College in Bikaner.
In five decades, SMS Medical College has grown from five departments to a bountiful 35. The faculty of 30 has now grown to 560 with 137 professors. In 1949, the total number of students was 180. Now there are 750 undergraduates and 745 postgraduate students.
What has not changed is Dandiya’s love for students. When he moves around in the corridors of the college, he often stops to talk to students.
“Students matter the most to him,” says Manoj Tripathi, who studied in BHU under Dandiya and retired as drugs controller of Rajasthan.
Dandiya has written 14 books, including the Complete Family Medicine Book, which has sold 500,000 copies so far, and authored some 170 research papers. He is currently a consultant with the World Health Organisation’s programme on rational use of drugs and also the president of Rajasthan Society for Promotion of Rational Use of Drugs.
First Published: Mar 02, 2019 10:15 IST