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  • Writer's pictureSenthil Kumar Sadasivam

Kadhai Alla Nijam...

'Kadhai Alla Nijam' is a reality show that revolutionized Tamil television; it’s all about real events, real people, real feelings, real emotions and real judgments which received a tremendous response. Whereas ‘intha (this), Kadhai alla nijam’ is all about my own feelings, emotions, events and people, who/which played a key role in the journey of research, dissertation and subsequent Ph.D.,

“Acceptance of the truth or existence of something; the expression of gratitude or appreciation for something; the action of showing that one has noticed someone or something; a statement printed at the beginning of a book expressing the author‘s or publisher’s gratitude to others”, is how the word acknowledgement is being defined by Oxford Dictionaries. Acknowledging the assistance and contributions of others is a well-established feature of the scholarly communication process. Although apparently unrelated to the important academic goals, the significance of this optional genre is confirmed by its positional prominence, by its widespread use in a range of forums. Acknowledgement sections are now commonplace in academic books and research articles and appear to be almost universal in dissertations, where they offer authors/students a unique rhetorical space to both convey their genuine gratitude for assistance and to promote a capable academic and social identity.

I carried out my research in the department of Biotechnology, Jamal Mohamed College. The path towards my doctorate degree spans several years of work and many people have been involved and contributed to the ideas and the understanding gained. In a way, I was prepared to write an acknowledgement to convey my genuine gratitude for the assistance and contribution of others and to lay aside (a little) my academic persona and freely express some inconsequential flourishes.

Below runs the text from the acknowledgement pages of my Ph.D., thesis…

As this is an attempt to demonstrate my intellectual autonomy, please do not read this segment with the (underlying) thought…

To discover my underlying feelings towards other persons (as they are written or not just written down, but can be discovered in cryptograms).

It’s quite clear to everyone that a researcher cannot complete a Ph.D., alone. The completion of my dissertation and subsequent Ph.D., has been a long journey. It’s true that “Life is what happens”when you are completing your dissertation. Life doesn’t stand still, nor wait until you are finished and have time to manage it. Much as happened and changed in the time, I’ve been involved with this project. Many (my guide, friends, family members etc.,) have questioned whether I would finish my dissertation, as have doubted my commitment to it. I, on the other hand, barring losing confidence so many times I’ve lost count, getting writer’s block just as many times (thanks to the internet), ending one relationship, moving, beginning another relationship, computers crashing, needing to work as much as possible, and pure frustration in general, knew I’d compete my Ph.D. I just had to do it in my own time and on my own terms (including the acknowledgement part). My dissertation has always been a priority, but as most know, there are several priorities in a person’s life at any one time. Unfortunately due to life’s challenges and the changes that followed, my dissertation could not always be the number one priority. At any rate, I have finished, but not alone and am elated. I could not have succeeded without the invaluable support of several, especially the select group I’m about to mention.

I want to thank (first and foremost) my research supervisor and guide Dr. R. Ravikumar, Assistant Professor in the department of Botany. It has been an honor to be his first Ph.D., student. I have been very fortunate with him and I would like to demonstrate my deepest gratitude for all the support, patience, advices, (almost blind)confidence, friendship and freedom to pursue various projects without any objection in these years. For this, I cannot thank him enough. I am forever grateful. Thank You! I’m very much grateful to the management of Jamal Mohamed College that allowed me to do great jobs both in teaching and research. This study would not have been possible without the support of our Principal. I’m always thankful to him (sincerely).

I’d like to thank Dr. M. M. Shahul Hameed, or as I (we) call him, “The English Man”. I cannot begin to express my gratitude and feelings for this gregarious man. His enthusiasm and love for teaching is contagious. He is not only my HOD but also my mentor. His patience, flexibility, genuine caring and concern, and faith in me, enabled to attend to life (my casual leaves), while also earning my Ph.D. He’s been motivating, encouraging, and enlightening. He has never judged nor pushed when he knew I needed to juggle priorities. We’ve laughed together and he’s also been kind when I needed to cry (his invaluable support on track, facilitating my landing in our department, when myself and Jaabir was immersed in the chaos of moving away from the department in 2009). He has always encouraged and helped me to see life and science in their full depth. He appreciates my work and has enlightened me through his deep intuition about where it should go and what is necessary to get there (has given as a lot of publicity through media, our articles got published in popular newspapers). I’m also thankful for the excellent example he has provided as a successful man in profession and in person. It has been an honor to learn from him. He has been invaluable on both an academic and a personal level, for which I am extremely grateful and the Ph.D., thesis, is dedicated to him.

Jaabir (as he likes to be called), a wonderful and generous friend, colleague and an excellent researcher who believed in me and without whom I would never have done this work. In fact, Jaabir (as my daily supervisor) never looked over my shoulder and turned out to have an (uncanny) ability to turn almost all my attacks of raging fury into screaming laughter. He had firsthand knowledge of the dissertation process and what I was experiencing. This understanding was priceless for both of us. He has played the part of friend, confidant, conscience, rear end kicker, humorist, phone comrade, etc., etc., I need not say more. He’s been as tough on me as He’s been supportive and caring. In him I have a life-long friend and colleague. For all these reasons and many, many more, I am eternally grateful. Thank you, for being persistent and encouraging, and for the many precious memories along the way.

For my research, Dyes and effluent were essential. Very few people helped with this, for which I would like to thank The Director and (in particular) Mr. Sankaranlingam, of United Bleachers (P) Ltd., wholeheartedly. They invited us, provided valuable information and materials (dyes and effluent) for the study. Without their generosity there would be nothing to work with. I’m thankful to Dr. Ravi (an eminent chemist), Mr. Sangalimuthu (alumni of our college) and Mr. Mahibalan and all other officials at Karpagam University (Coimbatore), who invited us to attend a workshop on Bioinstrumentation. I owe them many thanks! They made our stay very pleasant and comfortable, for all their hospitality extended and for their inputs in the study (analytical reports in chapter III).

I’m also thankful to the HOD (Dr. S. Ahmed John) of Botany for always being so helpful and the staff members for always being friendly and I’m glad to have interacted with them (I believe). A special thanks to Dr. N. Komalavalli who stepped in as my doctoral committee member. Her flexibility in scheduling, gentle encouragement and relaxed demeanor made for a good working relationship and the impetus for me to finish (at the time of Synopsis).

It was a pleasure to work with my wonderful student Krishnamurthy (my first M.Sc., Project student in Jamal). I would like to recognize many valuable contributions from Balaji, Selvaraj, Venkatesan, Yuvaraj and TS Balaji (M.Sc., project students). Shamsheer (M.Sc., project student from Hans Rover College), is the one, whom anyone will instantly love and never forget, once they meet him. He distracted me completely and joyously (Intros to Face book and Orkut) and has been so nice and friendly. Shariq (final year student), a smart and nice guy all around, has helped with bringing our needed chemicals and supplies and with the stockroom in general. He is a wonderful person with great lab skills. In fact, I’ve learnt from him about how to be an independent worker. My best wishes to him! I’m thankful to Yasar and Akram (final year students), for their help, with paperwork at the time of thesis submission. They are talented guys and have helped to fix many of my careless mistakes. They kept things light and me smiling (the 3 idiots of our department -Shariq, Yasar and Akram).

Vanniyambadi guys, an interesting group and each person have played some kind of role in my time here. They were adept in mixing cleverness and kindness in unprecedented ways. There had been few times when I have worked so hard and even fewer times when it was so worthwhile. Many other students have been involved also deserve recognition. It is, however, not possible to list them all. Their support in my effort is, however, greatly appreciated. I’m thankful to the students whom I was privileged to teach and from whom I also learned much.

My colleagues (Biotechnology department) Dr. K. Mohamed Rafi, Dr. J. Sebastin Raj (Thanks for the treat at Kannappas), Dr. (Mrs.).T. Nargis Begum and Ms. G. Priyalakshmi were all very funny, complementing each other wonderfully well and more than anything, were fantastically normal and human. Mrs. Humera Begum, I like to think of her, as a person who appreciate my quirkiness and sense of humor, and as the guardian angel of our department students (especially for ‘B’ Section, last year) before she left to start her new position in Pondicherry. I wished she could have continued here (in Jamal) few years for my synopsis and viva-voce. I’m glad to have her as a colleague and as a friend. The Tamil translation of the abstract and graphical (statistical) representations would not have been possible without the expert guidance of my colleague and friend Mr. S. Sivasanmugam. Not only was he readily available for me, but also read and responded to the drafts of my work more quickly than I could have hoped. Although he is a man of many words, his comments were always extremely perceptive and helpful. Mr. S. Naveed Ahmed, a student turned colleague and a sincere friend now, supported a lot. Mr. S. Venkatesh (Iyer) shared the glory and sadness of seminars we attended. Anwar Bhai, a wonderful staff in our Department (as well as in Physics Department, now) was always so helpful and friendly. Mr. A. Raja (Dept. of Microbiology), a good friend to chat, provided access to Gel Doc, when I needed it most. Thank you all!

During the development of my dissertation, I was partially supported by the Helsinki University and Finnish Forest Research Institute (METLA), with a student scholarship to attend a conference (Biogeomon 2009) in Helsinki, Finland. The days I spent in Helsinki would not have been as wonderful without my (foreign) friends. I thankful to them for the wonderful friendship and for the (beautiful)photographs of mine in such exotic places which otherwise would not have been possible. Dr. Lisa (METLA) owes special thanks.

I am always thankful to Dr. G. Melchias (St. Josephs College) who availed himself to me. He is a nice and a helpful person who has been pretty supportive. He has opened his hearts and his doors, supplying me with resource persons, I never could have found without him (Theirs is a life of Christian charity!). The examiners have approved my thesis, meaning my Ph.D., is finally earned. Let the glory go to Dr. Melchias! Mr. A. Veeramani (a Senior Professor) was a nice fellow scholar, with whom I enjoyed talking about everything but work. I’ll never forget the many wonderful lunches that we had together.

I have been fortunate to come across many funny & good friends, without whom life would be bleak. Special thanks go to Vijayaraagavan (if Kanna, how can I miss Radha?) for fifteen years of friendship, support, movies, dinners, discussions, concerts, plays etc., etc., that we enjoyed together.

My parents (Thiru. S. Sadasivam and Tmt. T. Muthunayaki) have given me their unequivocal support throughout, as always, for which my mere expression of thanks likewise does not suffice. Thanks for bringing up who I am today!! I am thankful my brother (Ram) for his support in all its forms and critiques. Above all, I’m thankful to my wife Aruna (even though she would not consider this necessary) for her (great) patience, love and encouragement at all times. Without her I would be a very different person today, and it would have been certainly much harder to get a Ph.D., in my life. No ‘thanks’ to my daughter Vaishnavi, and only (sincere) apologies for all the disappointments I had given her, particularly in those many in which I spent more time with my computer than with her. All I can say is, it would take another thesis to express my deep love for both of them…. And last, but definitely not least, my uncle Thiru. Rengaswamy, aunty Tmt. Swarnamala (opening doors & food) and their family. Work is not my (entire) life. I really like working, but my family is far more important to me. It’s great to be part of his (uncles) family and his ability to put things in perspective has helped me a lot. The Sundays with all of them (my family) were great, and I just want to thank them all for not being scientists.

There are some supporting people that I might have forgotten: exhaustion plays havoc on memory. My humblest apologies to those who consider having earned for themselves being cited amongst these lines. Let me take this opportunity to thank all the people who pushed, pulled and accompanied me on the way. Of course, despite all the assistance provided, I alone remain responsible for the content of my thesis, including any errors or omissions which may unwittingly remain. I hope that my work will make a positive contribution to the extension of wastewater use in agriculture and the improvement of wastewater use practices.

After all, I’m thankful to my own dissertation itself, which has conferred me with a prefix and a suffix, this year in particular (Jamal’s Diamond Jubilee Year). Yes! It’s the Dr. and the Jamalian, which I feel like heaven.

These lines would reveal a professional and personal identity of mine and may influence/or have an effect on assessors and readers. I’m aware that this acknowledgement would also attract criticism and controversy. It’s all written for (with) a soul satisfaction, Just Love it (to read) or leave it! In fact, perspective is, after all, everything.

I finish with a final silence of gratitude to the almighty.

Truly, Senthil Kumar, Nov, 2010.

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