Inspiring Stories
A collection of personal Interviews with celebrated leaders, entrepreneurs, corporate honchos or any success stories.

A Librarian to a Legend - YN Shivanna

People say that propagating education is a precious gift to the world. A man who believed in this philosophy has worked relentlessly for 34 years and still counting to touch children from every strata of our society and provide them with quality based education. It's a real story of a librarian who pedaled the cycle of tough times to ease the future of a lot many students. Let's listen to the legend himself, who made this commendable journey possible.
librarian to legend,y n shivanna
How do you want the world to know Mr. Y N Shivanna as?

I don't want anyone to know just about Mr. Y N Shivanna as I don't have to stand for any election or enter politics. I would like people to know about our institutions through which children are getting all the facilities. If people know that, right from the time of inception of the educational institutions till date there haven't been any problems for students and quality education has been provided to all, then their appreciation is more than sufficient for me. I desire that my students become educated individuals, bring pride to their parents and become responsible citizens of our society.

How did you start so many schools and scale up as an eminent educationist?

Back in 1970s I was working in IISC (Indian Institute of Science) as an assistant librarian. My wife and my inspiration Smt. Venkatlakshmi was working in a school as a teacher. I had a dream of having an institution of our own where she could teach. I had already started a credit cooperative society and a consumer cooperative society to serve the people in my area, Kamakshipalya. With this experience and with the support of my relatives and friends, I started the first school, VLS Vidya Sagar Kannada Medium School in 1979 with just a fee of Rs. 10 per student. Then we upgraded it to high school in 1989. Maruti Mandira was a school started by Mr. Siddagangaiah in 1987 and during 1992-93, we took over the management of the school as he couldn't continue it further. In 1994, I started an English medium school by name VLS Convent. In 2004, we celebrated the Silver Jubilee of our institutions. Then I had a dream of starting an ICSE school because we already had three other schools serving other strata of our society. In 2007, I started VLS International School under ICSE syllabus. In 2012, Krishnamurthy sir heading the management of Ravi English School handed over the school to our management. Currently, we are proud to have 5 educational institutions running under VLS management.

How was the initial phase of your journey?

I joined IISC in 1971 on temporary basis and in 1975 my job as an assistant librarian was confirmed. I worked till 2004 in IISC and finally took VRS (Voluntary Retirement Service). I used to have duty on shift basis. When I had a morning shift, I used to work for my schools afternoon onwards. When the duty was in the second shift, I managed other work in the morning. I requested my librarian to put me for night duty so that I could build my institutions during the day. He was more than happy that I opted for night duty from 1pm to 10pm, which, generally, people dislike to opt for. My day used to start by 7:30am in the morning and I used to finish my school work by 1pm, have lunch and go to IISC. I used to return home by 11pm. Bus and cycle were the only two modes of transport for me until 1994. This initial phase had a lot of struggles but was a lot more satisfying.

Which were the most difficult phases of your journey so far?

To get the school aided so that the teachers could get affiliated for government salary was one of my key goals. Affiliation would happen only after an institution had completed 3 years then. By the time our institution completed 3 years, the government extended the eligibility to 5 years. We continued but when we completed 5 years, it was extended to 7 years due to lack of funds with the government and increase in number of schools. Then I took up the fight single-handedly, requested umpteen times and, ultimately, the bill was passed in the session and the rule was amended by the governor to apply the rule only for those schools which started after implication of the law. The fight went on for a year and benefitted a lot of schools which had completed 5 years before the rule was implemented.
Getting permissions to start the VLS International School and the permission for introducing English medium in VLS Convent School was also one of the significant challenges that I faced and won. Accruing finances and loans to start the schools, for their construction and other expenses was also a very strong challenge for me. During the celebration of our Silver Jubilee function, I wanted to gift silver plates to all my teachers. I had to take personal loan to afford all expenses but I am happy that everything went well.

How were your childhood days?

I was born in Yeliyur in Kunigal Taluk, Tumkur district. I was the youngest child to my parents. I was around 18 months old when my mother expired and I don't have any remembrance of having seen her. I have two elder brothers. My entire childhood was fostered by my grandparents. I had to work while going to school. I had to walk for 6 miles every day to reach my school. Those were difficult times with not much facility. My dad was always inclined towards social service and always taught me that we should be those who only give and never beg for anything. I follow this lesson of his till date.

Who are those 5 key people who helped to turn your visions into reality?

My brothers-in-law Jayaram and Rajanna brought me to Bangalore and helped me get a small job to look after an electric store room. Another brother-in-law of mine by name Ramamurthy supported me with the land to build the VLS International School. My father-in-law was a great source of support and inspiration for my ambitious work. I thank my family for being a great support to build my dreams. Ramu sir from Janatha Seva Cooperative Society encouraged me a great deal with the financial support witnessing my passion towards building educational institutions. Last but not the least, I must thank my staff that has been with me all this time and helping me run so many schools.

What dreams do you wish to share with our audience?

There is no end to human desires. Even I dream of starting new institutions but I need people equally and more passionate than me to take care of them and maintain them. Without having the right people to take forward the legacy, starting new things would bring down the reputation of the brand. Hence I am carefully taking planned steps. I have a dream of starting a CBSE syllabus school in near future.
What is your message for today's youth?

Due to the umpteen numbers of new things present in the market today, the youngsters desire for them. They go in search of such petty desires not to lose but only with an intention to win. In a race to satisfy their desires and distractions the youth is unfortunately led into wrong paths and means. Youngsters must be aware of their limitations and should make sure that none others are harmed because of their activities. They have to grow up to become a pride of their nation and a gift for their motherland.

What is your message for parents?

All parents want their kids to get the best education and environment, achieve great heights in life and contribute positively toward the society. With these intentions, they enroll kids into an educational institution which can provide a holistic growth for children. They are more concerned about their child's development than the fees or other expenses. Not all children are the same. Different kids excel in different things but all need to be fed the proper right values. Parents must create a sound environment at home by teaching the kids to respect teachers and the society and not to harm their classmates or other children at school. Only then can the children get rightly educated. Parents must astutely appreciate the right things and correct the wrong things in their children.

A message to all our readers

Today, we are able to get information from every corner of the world through media. There is a lot of information bombarding from all sides. We need to thoughtfully select the right ones and neglect the wrong information. We must also responsibly pass on the good information and share informative and inspirational insights of the world with others.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 20th November 2013.

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