Dr. Lalitha Balakrishnan has been a topper in Rosary Matriculation Schooland and Outstanding Student of EthirajCollege. She has been a Sports Presenter on Rainbow FM and has participated in Television shows. She has been chosen by the US Dept of State to visit the USA in Mar 2011 as an Exchange Grantee under the prestigious IVLP – International Visitor Leadership Program
Dr Lalitha has a passion to excel in whatever she does. She is interested in reading, crossword,and music, besides being an avid quizzer. She is fond of Hindi movies and prides in stating that she has never missed a cricket match at the Chepauk stadium.
Dr. Lalitha Balakrishnan is presently the Principal of M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women, an arts and science college in Chennai. The College is affiliated with the University of Madras and is a self-financing institution offering 14 undergraduate, six postgraduate courses, and Ph.D. programme in commerce.
MOP Vaishnav College for women has been reaccredited at A grade by NAAC- CGPA 3.51 /4. It was established in 1992 by the dedicated efforts of Shri. M.O.ParthasarathyIyengar and the charity established by him. The college also has the distinction of being one of the youngest colleges in the country to have been granted autonomy by the UGC and Madras University.
Dr. Lalitha Balakrishnan, Principal, MOP Vaishnav College for Women shares with Marie Banuhow sports shapes one’s character.
In just two decades, you have created your own niche amongst the city colleges. What is the secret for this success?
When we talk about college and its growth, we should definitely talk about Dr. Nirmala Prasad. She had a vision for the college, built it up over the years, nourished it, brought it to where it is today and placed it on a pinnacle. Definitely, she not only dreamt about the immediate future, but also for a very long time to come. In that way she has paved the foundation and what MOP is today is more than 100 percent due to her.
Of course, we had a very encouraging and patronizing management who not only paid heed to her good suggestion and wisdom, but also encouraged her to dream bigger. We have been fortunate in these areas.
Can you share with us about your childhood? Your interest in sports?
I went to Rosary Matriculation School in Chennai. We were given a wide exposure in all areas. Sports day was compulsory, and so was drills. More than the compulsion, we enjoyed being part of it.We had the House system that most schools have, and we had the score boards running. Everything was done in a professional and systematic way.
I owe a lot of what I am to my school, and am very proud to be a Rosarian that way. There, people used to come from all walks of life to talk to us, and there were sportsmen too.
I developed interest in cricket after listening to the commentary, reading the newspapers, and writing letters to the editor on what happened on some days in the field. I also developed interest in tennis, as my brother used to play this sport and I used to join him to the tennis court. After I grew up and got married, my son followed Formula 1 racing. So, that also came into my agenda.
MOP College gives a lot of importance to sports and have won several accolades.What are your views about how sports shapes one’s personality?
It is nice to be interested in sports, because you work towards winning and it gives you a lot of focus. At the same time, everyone cannot be a winner. So, when you lose, you learn to lose gracefully. You learn to function as a team. As a loner, you can succeed in many ways, but when you are able to take your team along with you, that is the best that can happen anywhere!
Sports shapes one’s character – to adjust, to be with the team, to sacrifice one’s individual interest in the interest of the team. It is a great level head in that aspect.
The youth of today and their interest in virtual games. Your thoughts?
The youth of today are playing with people who are not there. The excitement of running or shouting in the field is okay as you need not have to do that in a claustrophobic atmosphere – in your drawing room shouting at each other – because you have vented all your feelings in the outfield.
There are certain things that children of today are losing out on. Even when I brought up my son, in the mid 80’s and early 90’s, there was some playing on the ground. Now, you find that very less as even in Pre-Kg a child goes for tuitions, and the mother wanting to watch television allows her child to play on the computer.
Today, I think the art of outdoor games is totally dying down.
MOP encourages enrollment of special children in certain undergraduate courses. This is a challenging decision taken by your management. Can you please tell us more about this?
Each one is gifted and talented in a particular way. So, instead of saying that something is not right in you; you rather encourage something that is good in you. That is a very nice attitude to adopt and that way we have been encouraging children with special needs. About the culture and discipline of your college. What are the special sessions that you conduct for your students?
The beginning school and finishing school, is not only to earn a degree. It is about having a right attitude towards life. Tomorrow, if you are going to settle down in your life, as a career woman or as a housewife, or both—you need to know certain things apart from having the right qualificationand aptitude. One needs to know how to get along with people, how to make marriage workable and successful, how to behave in a party, and how to conduct oneself in a meeting. All these nitty-gritties are being taught in our college.
The parents are definitely giving us a good feedback and express that they are happy to have their wards study in our college. We do not have any parent complaining that we have packed many modules outside the curriculum.
Although MOP appears to be an affluent college from the outside, you do have children from the backward communities studying here. Can you tell us about the scholarship support offered to them?
We have a lot of students who are economically backward and insist of joining our college. Thanks to our management, we are able to provide such candidates with scholarships. We offer full fee waiver for at least one semester and we do not make it seem as though we have done the students a favour. We in turn make them work for about 100 to 150 hours in any of our College departments, like library, or office admin, or PR, so that they feel that they have earned a part of the money to fulfill the fees.
What are the community initiatives that are being coordinated by your college?
We have adopted five schools and three of them in and around Thirutani. They are in a disadvantaged zone as they are in the suburbs and not in the city. When our students visit them, they are able to talk to them, share the latest happening, and even entertain them.They feel very happy and our students have told me that on subsequent visits these rural students did the guard of honor and welcomed them cheerfully.
This year, the outreach programme is being organized in 5 schools and we have hand-picked 50 children who are most deserving for this purpose. We offer breakfast five days a week, as the mid day meal is provided by the state. This is called ‘Project Aahar’.
We feel that breakfast is a very important meal. If you miss that, it tells on your health and concentration power.