Squadron Leader K Manickavasagam joined our school – Sainik School Amaravathi Nagar, Tamil Nadu, India as our Headmaster in 1978 while we were in Grade 11. He bid adieu to the world to be with the God Almighty on 13 April 2018, leaving behind a great legacy – especially for the Cadets of Sainik School Amaravathi Nagar.
He got on to his main task from the day he arrived – to turn us teens into adults. He was seen everywhere during all activities – from the morning Physical Training (PT) to evening dinner. We all enjoyed his company, his talks, his motivational anecdotes. It would not be wrong for me to say that he was instrumental in many of us clearing the Services Selection Board (SSB) Interview and joining the defence forces with Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, AVSM, VSM, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff heading the pack.
The day for us all dawned with PT and there was Squadron Leader R Manickawasagam, out there, running with us and exercising with us. While we marched from the Cadets’ Mess to the school after breakfast, we saw Squadron Leader Manickavasagam cycling down from his residence to the Academic Block. Next was the morning assembly. He called Vijayabhaskaran and me during PT and asked us to deliver a speech during the assembly on “Untouchability” for Vijayabhaskaran “Co-education in Sainik Schools” for me. Vijayabhaskaran asked “for how long should we speak?”. “As long as you can” came the Headmaster’s reply. As we went back to prepare our speeches, Vijas told me that we should speak for 45 minutes each the least so that everyone goes for the tea-break after the assembly and we all can manage to skip the first three periods of the day. After each speech, Squadron Leader Manickavasagam spoke for 15 minutes, analysing and assessing our speeches. He was real serious and meticulous as he went about all his tasks.
Squadron Leader Manickavasagam appeared to have taken the divine task of molding us teens into leaders and good citizens. He lead many adventure activities like treks through the Anamalai Wildlife Park located adjacent to our school campus, tracking rabbits in the Small-Arms Range area and so on.
He chaired many of the open-house debates and discussions. He encouraged us to present our views, right or wrong, confidently. He shared his experiences and wisdom during these events. He encouraged all of us to be creative by participating in various extra-curricular activity clubs. He conducted General Knowledge classes for us in the evenings wherein we could discuss anything and everything under the sun.
He was often seen cheering us from the sidelines when we competed in various Inter-house sports events with all our spirits, heart and soul – whether it was the boxing, athletics, football, hockey, volleyball or basketball.
Squadron Leader Manickavasagam always had positive words of encouragement for us – even while we goofed it up. He did mete out punishments for us, keeping in mind our age and exuberance. Once he made Vijayabhaskaran and I to apologise in front of the Morning Assembly – it was too less a punishment for the mischief we did. Looking back, had the intended punishment of withdrawal from school was awarded to us – we would not have achieved what we have today for sure.
RIP Squadron Leader K Manickavasagam. You had the vibes of all of the students. An Officer and a thorough Gentleman to the core – someone we all would love to emulate.