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Remembering Dr. R.S. Kumbar: Creator and Guardian of India’s foremost hub of legal knowledge

This piece is a collection of tributes, recorded from the Condolence Meet held on 26 April 2021 to pay respect to and celebrate the life of Law School’s wonderful Former Librarian-In-Charge, Dr. Kumbar. This memorial was organized for the students and Professors of NLSIU, Bangalore.

Prof. Aparna Chandra [Associate Professor of Law, NLSIU]

Dr. R.S. Kumbar came from a small village in Davanagere. He worked as a part-time lecturer in Shivamogga and a librarian in colleges in Mangalore and Bellary, before being appointed as a library assistant in 1990 at NLS. Dr. Kumbar began his academic life with a bachelor’s degree in Library Sciences and continued to pursue his post-graduate and doctoral degrees while he was working at NLS. Dr. Kumbar came to NLS as many of his colleagues did, despite financial constraints, out of a sense of public service and nation-building and inspired particularly by the example of his father who was a freedom fighter. Unfortunately, his father also passed away the same day. Dr. Kumbar often remembered the alumni with fondness and he truly thought of the NLS community as a family. We heard heart-warming stories from the NLS community about him at the alumni meet and surely, we will today as well.

Prof. Mohangopal [Former Director (Vice-Chancellor), NLSIU, 2000-2003]

I remembered these words of Aesculus, particularly because they embodied to me, wisdom and grace. Mr. Kumbar, also, always displayed wisdom and grace. Perhaps that is an attribute that I associate with the people of Karnataka. The people I’ve met there have a lot of wisdom, and a lot of grace.

Mr. Kumbar, of course, was an essential and integral part of the lives of anyone who was in the National Law School, certainly not excluding myself. Like oxygen, the library and Mr. Kumbar were there to give us the oxygen of knowledge. Selfless, dedicated, and professional – he played a huge role in building up the institution and generations of students who served there. He was a hub of knowledge, a guide to the students on that knowledge, and a fountain of knowledge himself. I think that his contribution to the National Law School and to the students, his wonderful personality, his ability to work with others and develop institutions, and his humility are truly admirable.

Prof. A. Jayagovind [Former Vice-Chancellor, NLSIU, 2003-2009]

As far as Dr. Kumbar is concerned, efficiency and quietness characterized him. Navalgund and Kumbar built up the NLSIU library from scratch. When NLSIU started functioning in 1988, the library consisted of a few shelves of books, donated by some lawyers. Now it is one of the finest law libraries in India. The efficient and friendly service provided by the library staff is also a distinguishing feature of the library.  Dr. Kumbar’s contribution is very significant in this regard.

Dr. Kumbar was never a show-off person. He was such a self-effacing person that many of us did not know that he was Doctor Kumbar.  He was so quiet that many would not have noticed his presence.  But he was ever ready to help. He passed away as quietly as he had lived his life. Since he was living outside the Campus, most people were not aware of his Corona attack.

Dr. Kumbar rendered yeoman’s service to the Law School. We convey our condolences to the bereaved family.

Prof. R. Venkata Rao [Chairperson, Vivekananda School of Law and Legal Studies and Former Vice-Chancellor, NLSIU 2009-2019]

I remember when we wanted to extend the library timings from 9’ o clock in the evening till 3’ o clock in the morning, with an ever-smiling face Kumbar would come and say, “Sir, this is our mother and if we are able to do anything, it is because of our mother. Therefore, we are prepared to sacrifice. We will come together as a team and help you extend the timing to 3 o’clock in the morning.” And the rest is history. After it was extended to 3 in the morning, several scholars, students who came from Oxford University wrote in the visitors’ book that “All these days I thought that the Oxford University library is the best. But NLS library is definitely better than the best.” It’s all because of the commitment of people like Dr. Kumbar.

Prof. T.V. Subba Rao [Director, Research and Development Council and Visiting Professor, NLSIU]

With regard to R.S. Kumbar, he was a thorough gentleman and silent worker for the development of the library. I had the opportunity to work with him as a member of the library committee for some time. I have never seen him picking up arguments or issues with anybody. May his soul rest in peace.

Prof. M.K. Ramesh [Professor of Law, NLSIU]

I have many, many intimate moments with Dr. Kumbar, for the simple reason that we were in the same quarters. Not just me, but also my family, know him and his family. His wife was very close to my wife and whenever their family faced trying times, she would run to my wife and find some sort of solace in her company. We had such a wonderful association all the while. If at all I own a house now, it’s mainly because of two friends of mine: Dr. Kumbar and Prof. Navalgund. They were the ones who made me apply for a BDA site, something which I had never done and never would have done if not for them. Outside my classroom, outside my Law School, I did not know anything. They were the ones who brought the application form and made me fill it up. Now after having the benefit of staying in the house built by me for the last eight years, I know the value of friends like him. I really miss, very greatly, such a great friend like Kumbar. Somebody who was a friend, a dear friend, in every sense of the word to me. May his soul rest in everlasting bliss.

Prof. V. Vijayakumar [Director, NLIU Bhopal and Former Professor of Constitutional Law, NLSIU]

About Kumbar, Ramesh made a mention of something that many people may not know. He had many personal and family issues which were sorrowful for him. But he hid all that sorrow when he came to work in Law School. I went to his house after he had purchased his flat. I felt very bad that even after experiencing such situations, he never let out his anger during work. When hearing about Mallar’s demise, someone mentioned to me that even Kumbar passed away, which was a double shock not just for me, but for the entire Law School family.

Prof. V.S. Elizabeth [Vice-Chancellor, TNNLU and Professor of History (On Lien), NLSIU]

I didn’t know Dr. Kumbar too well personally. I knew Mr. Navalgund a lot better, and of course, today I have better relations with Madhu, Ramesh and Mahesh and I know them better than I did Dr. Kumbar. The one thing that I remember about him was that he was always smiling, and as Prof. Vijaykumar said, he had a lot of burdens to carry in his personal life, yet he always smiled. That I feel is the one thing that characterized him perfectly. I think the one thing that unites both Prof. Mallar and Dr. Kumbar is that both of them were such modest beings, never showing off or acting big and always treating everyone with respect and dignity.

Prof. N.S. Gopalakrishnan [Professor, Cochin University of Science and Technology and Former Additional Professor, NLSIU]

I knew Dr. Kumbar only for a short period of time as he joined late. Many mentioned that he was professional from the very first day he joined NLS and was a silent worker. He was a man who remembered his past. I met him after a long time, last year when I came to Law School after many years. When I walked into the library, he started telling me about his library practices in the early years. I have heard from many batches that the Law School library is one of the greatest contributions of Dr. Kumbar who has built the infrastructure along with Mr. Navalgund who is no more. I understand from Prof. Rao’s statement that Kumbar was the one who was willing to work late nights so that the students could enjoy the benefits. I also pray for his soul’s peaceful rest and I share my condolences with the family members.

Dr. Mahesh Yaranal [Librarian In Charge, NLSIU]

I will especially speak more about Dr. Kumbar because with Dr. Kumbar I have worked almost for 23 years as a colleague, and for the last 4 years he was my boss – he was the library in-charge. He was a thorough library professional and he taught us well. In the initial stages, he taught us manual searching of legal information, processing it, and disseminating the information. And as a colleague, he always encouraged us to attend the conferences and learn more about ICT-related things. May his soul rest in peace.

Mr. Madhu K.S. [Assistant Librarian, NLSIU]

Dr. Kumbar was a very good guide, philosopher, and friend to me. When we were in the academic block, we hardly used to interact with each other because he was working in the journal section, which was on the first floor of the academic block. When we moved to our new library in 2005, we started interacting. He was a master in finding the case laws, repealed acts and other legislation, and whenever I faced problems in finding those materials, I used to run to him and he always helped me with a smiling face. And as Mahesh sir mentioned, he was always encouraging us to learn new things and implement the same things in the library to serve our user community. And we also used to discuss his Ph.D. thesis and as Prof. Jayagovind mentioned, he was very quiet. He always used to sit in the ground floor library and never used to interact. If we approached him, he would go out of his way to help anyone. I learned this character from him, that we should go out of the box to help our user community. It was really great working with him. And on the last day of his retirement, he mentioned to me that “I’m very happy that I’m retiring and I’ll spend most of my time with my family and I can give time to my family.” But it’s really sad that God had other plans.

 

We are really grateful to Dr. Kumbar for his services and he will be deeply missed. We pray that his soul rests in piece and offer our love and support to his family.

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