G P Ramachandra
Although born in Trivandrum, India, Ramachandra spent most of his formative childhood in Malaysia. When his father, Dr. P. G. Tampi, an Indian expat medical specialist, joined the TB Sanatorium on Pulau Jerejak in 1950, Rama and his two sisters followed him to Malaya. They were enrolled at the Edward Gent School on the island. When his father was subsequently transferred to the TB Specialist Centre near the KL General Hospital, Rama was admitted to Form One at the Victoria Institution in 1958.
He distinguished himself as an exceptionally bright individual in the VI, interested primarily in intellectual pursuits with little or no interest in much else. While he participated in extracurricular activities, as was expected of all VI pupils, Rama was not an active participant; between field and society activities, he showed more interest in the latter.
V. I. Buddies (1964)
Back: Venu Sarma, Ramachandra, Swaranjit Singh Ludher
His first love had always been in philosophy, a subject his classmates found too lofty. Rama had little or no opportunity to engage and develop his mind in that discipline.
Rama did not mingle freely. Both in the VI and later at the University of Malaya, he was more a private person, quiet and soft spoken. Though he was selective in the company he kept, he had a small circle of friends, closely knit, meeting at regular intervals in his spacious room in the sprawling government bungalow that his family occupied in the Lake Gardens.
Rama was an active participant in the group, discussing politics, history, current affairs and the like. His family had aristocratic roots, but neither he nor his parents ever looked at the background of the individuals with whom he chose to keep company.
Rama had a difficult time and career in the second half of the 60s and the 70s, first as a UM undergraduate, later as a scholar and don. He was forced to specialise in history, receiving his B.A (Hons.) and M.A in History from the University of Malaya and his PhD in History from the University of Hull. At Hull, he was trained as a diplomatic historian; his work in this field was cited in the Cambridge History of Southeast Asia.
On his return from Britain, Rama worked as a temporary lecturer at the Department of History, University of Malaya, from 1974 to 1977. He was not given any permanent tenure because of the affirmative action policy in public sector appointments and promotions.
Unassuming and calm by nature, Rama was unperturbed by any difficulties he faced in his professional career. He relocated to Singapore as an ASEAN Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies from 1978 to 1979.
He subsequently returned to India and taught at the Netaji Institute of Asian Studies, Calcutta, as Assistant Professor in International Relations. Rama joined the Mahatma Gandhi University in 1988 as Reader, School of International Relations and Politics. There he distinguished himself as an academician, engaging more fully in his intellectual pursuits and, in particular, in the field of his choice, philosophy. He was made a Residential Fellow of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research in 2002.
Rama retired on 31 March 2007 after nineteen years of distinguished service as Professor. He had joined the School as Reader in 1988 and had become Professor and Director in 1990. He had also served as the Dean of Social Sciences, Chairman, Board of Studies, and Member of the Academic Council and the Senate of the University. Rama also served as UGC Visiting Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Kerala after his retirement.
Ramachandra and wife, Shobha
Rama published books and articles in such journals as Journal of Malaysian Branch of Royal Asiatic Society, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Journal of Indian History, and Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research and in edited books.
Ramachandra was highly respected and loved by his colleagues and students. In the last few years of his illness, they would drop by regularly to see him.
Last update March 1, 2021.
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