Published: 01st June 2017
Meet lecturer cum researcher Jagadish Thaker who was a part of the first sample survey of India's climate change
Appreciation from teachers goes a long way and a living example of this is J Jagadish Thaker, who has presented papers across the world. Read more to find out how encouragement made him tick
Behind every successful teacher is a teacher, or teachers, in J Jagadish Thaker’s case. This 33-year-old has had a teacher to thank at every step of his education for either the encouragement or the opportunities. It all started with the teacher who encouraged him to get an article published when still in high school. Cut to now — when (my) former teacher recommended him for this special edition.
He also shares how professors at the Nizam College, Hyderabad, gave him odd jobs like writing a script for a radio play which eventually led him to become an RJ at the All India Radio to his Ph.D. advisors giving him the opportunity to present his paper at the World Bank HQ in Washington DC when he was 28 — all these catapulted this middle-class boy’s dreams.
Foreign affairs: Jagadish presented his paper at the World Bank HQ in Washington DC when he was 28
The force is certainly strong with this Chennai-born, Hyderabad-settled lecturer, currently teaching in the School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing at Massey University, New Zealand. Somewhere along the way, his Ph.D. advisors pushed him and put him in touch with a worldwide network. Hence, the current associate editor of the Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Climate Change Communication, more than anyone else, understands the value of encouraging students and implores them to be motivate that one child who just needs a little push to do great things — like, perhaps, become a part of the Global Warming’s Six Indias survey along with Yale University — just like Jagadish did.
Some students want to do business or jobs while some pursue a course for the sake of it, so teachers need to understand their motivation behind taking the course
J Jagadish Thaker Lecturer and researcher
Ask him why he became a teacher and he says, “My teachers have shaped me, so I feel like I owe it to them to shape the next generation in return.” Jagadish, who is the first in his family to hold a Ph.D. and a master’s degree, not only had financial constraints, but he even had to fight superstitions to study abroad. “My mother consulted an astrologer who said that I would not be able to go to the US,” laughs Jagadish, as he recalls the time when the US was still a fascination for most. And it was so for him as well, when he did odd jobs — from being a newspaper delivery boy to a call centre employee — to see his dream through. After teaching at Nizam College, Hyderabad, Jagadish pursued his Ph.D. at George Mason University, Virginia, and Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the NUS, Singapore — both of which he taught at as well.
From his experience of working with students across nationalities, Jagadish tells us that teachers, apart from doing the need-of-the-hour stuff — like making the classroom interactive and providing more experiential learning — need to learn how to push the students forward. He acknowledges his PhD advisors as standout people who really got him to where he is and adds, “Teachers abroad would fund us to present papers at conferences. In India, often, the teachers take up these opportunities for themselves, instead of encouraging the next generation of scholars.”
My teachers have shaped me, so I feel like I owe it to them to shape the next generation in return
J Jagadish Thaker Lecturer and researcher
Of course, he notes, the funding is comparatively less here. But that shouldn’t hold them back as, “teachers have an enormous influence on what students end up doing,” he emphasises. Though the large strength of each class in every school and college poses a challenge in India, he encourages teachers to rise above this challenge and “understand what motivates the students,” so that we can join him and say with a whole lot of pride — behind every successful student, there is a teacher.