Mangalore, August 17, 2013: The Architect of Modern Sullia and the visionary personality who transformed the sleepy town of Sullia into an educational hub, is no more. The town on the banks of River Payaswini continues to mourn the demise of Dr Kurunji Venkatramana Gowda, a renowned educationist and the Founder President of Academy of Liberal Education. He breathed his last on August 7 at the age of 85.
Today, the Academy has over 50 educational institutions in Sullia and also in Bangalore, New Delhi and other places. Institutions right from primary schools to technical, ayurveda, dental and medical colleges are functioning under the umbrella of the Academy of Liberal Education. The town of Sullia is today attracting thousands of students from across the nation who are in pursuit of quality higher education.
Dr Gowda was born in an agriculturist family. Initially he was into business and later ventured into social work, politics and eventually into the field of education. A young Gowda had no opportunity to have good education as he was born at a time when none pursued education above high school in the remote town of Sullia. As a Congressman he was closely associated with top leaders like Nijalingappa, Veerendra Patil and Devaraj Urs. He had even served as member of the local Panchayat and also as its chairman for some years. Inspired by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Gowda who was closely associated with Late Dr TMA Pai and TA Pai, founded the Academy of Liberal Education in Sullia.
Kurunji Venkatramana Gowda did not just start educational institutions but also found a way to serve the society through these institutions. The hospitals, research centers and mobile health units ensured quality medical care to the rural masses.
Also a great philanthropist, Kurunji had liberally contributed for various social causes as well as provision of basic amenities and infrastructural facilities in Sullia. The Sri Chennakeshava Temple of Sullia today stands tall and high as an architectural splendor thanks to his devotion and his dedication to serve the religious field too.
Dr Kurunji strongly believed in the philosophy of sharing whatever resources he had for the well being and welfare of the society. It was this philosophy of his that motivated him to set up educational and health care institutions. Today Sullia offers education right from LKG to post graduate courses.
His strong will power, determination, his liberal attitude, his pleasing personality, his zeal and zest for life and his friendly nature had won him innumerous admirers. Eminent Kannada film director Girish Kasaravalli had also brought out a documentary titled ‘Kurunjishree’ which beautifully narrates the life and achievements of Dr Kurunji.
The yeoman contributions made by this towering personality to various sectors had earned him a number of awards including Rajeev Gandhi Ekatha Award, Glory of India International Award, Arch of India Gold Award, Parisara Ratna International Award, Jawaharlal Nehru Excellence Award., Indo-Nepal Friendship Award, Pride of India Award, Rajeev Gandhi Shiromani Award, Indira Gandhi Sadbhavana Award, Udupi Sri Krishna Paryaya Award, Bharatiya Vikasa Ratna Award, Dr BC Roy Doctors Day Award, American Medical of Honour, Honorary Doctorate Award of USA Florida University and NS Kille Foundation Award.
Dr Kurunji is survived by his two sons, Dr K V Chidananda, Dr Renukaprasad and only daughter Govardhini Jayakumar. His wife Janaki Venkatramana Gowda had passed away on August 22 last year.
Though Dr Kurunji Venkatramana Gowda is no more, the institutions that he founded under the aegis of the Academy of Liberal Education will continue to serve the cause of thousands and thousands of students who will in turn contribute to national development thereby immortalizing the name of the indomitable personality who paved the way for the transformation of Sullia.n