A Tribute to The Guide

Dr. Jaipal Singh
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Dr S.C. Baugh was my research guide for a Ph.D. in science. He passed away several years back; an honest, committed and forthright teacher and scientist. He was a perfectionist; repeat and revise an experiment and/or draft umpteen times till he is absolutely satisfied about its accuracy and perfection.

During my association with him, I had learnt so many lessons in my professional and personal life. Later of course to survive in a mediocre bureaucracy, I had to fine-tune myself on several counts including my own passion, if one may call it, for perfection in doing things. He was highly original and will never copy or repeat even from his own work. Though the external examiners made high commendatory remarks for my doctorate work giving credit to the student, guide and university, I always knew in my mind and heart, if anyone really deserved any credit or commendation, this was Dr Baugh himself.

Dr Baugh never married in life so his approach to many worldly issues too was not very conventional. People often called him a miser, for he was against a lavish spending. In fact, he never changed his decades old bicycle and used to have detachable cuffs and collars to his shirts to economize wash. At a particular juncture I too was not fascinated with the idea of matrimony and was not keen for a marriage. I had a lot of persuasion and pressure from the parents and relatives and this was Dr Baugh who educated me that a person doesn't live only for self and one owes a lot and need to care for aspirations of parents and others who have contributed and linked to one's life.

In an environment where almost every Ph.D. student was exploited by their supervisors in some way or other, he never allowed me even to carry his routine letters to drop in a post box. This learning had an everlasting effect in the subsequent years in my life.

He was absolutely punctual and regular at work. I recall a particular incident when he was delayed almost by two hours at work. On way to the university, he had met an accident in which he had minor injuries and his bicycle was partially damaged. The party (two young boys) offered him free repair of his bicycle, to which he replied, "Well Gentlemen! you can get repaired my bicycle but can you return my precious time wasted on account of you...". While narrating this, his face reflected a honest glow and conviction that I was able to perceive and comprehend truth even at that rather immature age.

In a way he was a legend which humorously I often in a scientific jargon call 'a living fossil'. I don't know how many people can really understand him in correct perspective because in a fast paced life and rapidly changing social and moral ethos, such personalities are rare nowadays.

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Comment I agree with you, Rao Saheb and in fact this was one of the chief reasons why I decided to look for a change in professional career at that stage despite a lot of interest in the academic field. But what I wrote about Dr Baugh is absolutely true and I still feel indebted and grateful to the deported soul for the values I tried to emulate in later life. Thanks a lot.

14-Jul-2015 05:04 AM

Comment I first thought you were writing an appreciation of Dev Anand's film Guide. Thanks a lot you did not, but touched on an interesting topic on the Ph.D thesis advisor. I am glad your guide was an exemplary man and a role model. My experience in graduate school was that no body liked their guide after working in close quarters for a while. I have a large number of colleagues to compare notes. As you mentioned, exploitation of the graduate students was common. My regards to your departed teacher.

P. Rao
13-Jul-2015 22:18 PM

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