- Quirk NLS
Remembering Professor V S Mallar: Resolute Guide to the NLSIU Family and Champion of the Indian Cons
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 one of the Law School greats, Professor V.S. Mallar. This memorial was organized for the students and Professors of NLSIU, Bangalore.
Professor Aparna Chandra [Associate Professor of Law, NLSIU]
Professor Mallar, as he was known to all of us, was a founding faculty member at NLS, he did his undergraduate studies and postgraduate studies in Economics at Loyola College in Madras, after which he got his Bachelors degree in Law at Madras Law College and his LLM from Bombay University. Professor Mallar started his legal career with a well-known advocate and freedom fighter, G Vasantha Pai, and it is through his efforts that Mr. Pai’s entire library collection is now part of NLS’ collection. But after his stint as an advocate, Professor Mallar moved on to teaching. He first taught at JSS College in Hubli, then he moved to Goa. And of course, many of us have heard many stories from Professor Mallar about his time in Goa, or “Gova” as he used to call it. He taught there at the V.M. Salgaocar College of Law in Panaji, and then he was the Principal at G.R. Kare College of Law. Professor Mallar came to NLS in 1988 as an Assistant Professor to teach Constitutional Law. There’s a very nice interview up on Quirk about how he met Professor Menon and his initial years – how he applied for the job, and the initial years of struggle that NLS witnessed, and he was part of that struggle, and I’d like all of you to go look at it if you have the time. Professor Mallar came here in 1988 and aside from two short periods between 1998 and 2000 when he headed the KS Hegde College in Mangalore, and between 2006 and 2007 when he taught at GNLU and Nirma University in Gujarat. Professor Mallar called NLS home for the last 33 years and he taught Constitutional Law, Administrative Law as well as a range of other classes. At the alumni meet we were hearing stories of him teaching Legal History and I’m sure those classes were interesting as well.
Professor N.L. Mitra [Former Director (Vice-Chancellor), NLSIU, 1997-2000]
I’m not in the position to assimilate the idea that Mallar is no more. A constitutional law professor dying so unconstitutionally is the pathetic situation we are in now. We all know that one day we will be going to that permanent house, but Mallar’s death is a very difficult situation to assimilate, so I don’t know what to even say about what has transpired. I have been very closely associated with Professor Mallar, and all of you. Whenever we spoke about the constitution, we spoke about Mallar, Vijaykumar and Devidas. During my tenure as a teacher, whenever I had some time to relax, I would go and sit down on the last bench in their debate. Mallar’s death has really made me poor, I have never felt like this. I know that people go at the right age but Professor Mallar’s going is unbelievable. I cannot reconcile this situation at the present moment. So I hope you can kindly excuse me for the time being and I hope in the future, National Law School will commemorate Mallar and at that time I will be able to explain my relation with him in a more detailed and thoughtful manner. Thank you.
Professor G. Mohan Gopal [Former Director (Vice-Chancellor), NLSIU, 2000-2003]
I’m very glad Professor Mitra is here and I feel overwhelmed to hear his words that he is unable to speak. I think he speaks for all of us when he says that we are here to celebrate the life of all these people, but to have lost them leaves a very heavy weight of irreparable personal and institutional loss. The suddenness of the losses is overwhelming. My mind went to some very eloquent words of an old poet called Aeschylus which I often think about when we face such a loss and these words give us some consolation.
He says, and I quote him, “Even in our sleep, pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom, through the awful grace of God.” I remember these lines when I think of Professor Mallar. He certainly embodied a lot of wisdom and grace. For me, I come here, not as a colleague of Professor Mallar but as a disciple of Professor Mallar. He took me by the hand, he taught me, he guided me. When I think of a friend, philosopher and guide, I think Professor Mallar comes to my mind first, because he was all of those. He shaped and changed me very softly, but irresistibly for the better, somewhat like how water shapes rock.
I will always remember Professor Mallar for a couple of attributes, which have had a huge impact on me in all these years. One is that however small, an issue that he confronted, his vision was always very large. It is an extraordinary ability to look at the smallest issues with the largest vision and you learn to deal with the most immediate issues with a long-term perspective. I think that’s what gave him enormous wisdom. You could never drag him down, even if you tried, into the immediate issues. Another attribute that he had in this regard, which he shares with Professor Menon, is that they have never said one negative word about anyone to me. I knew Professor Menon from when he was my teacher, in 1973, my first year in LLB, virtually till the day he died. I was there in the hospital, on the night that he passed away. In all my life with Professor Menon and with Professor Mallar, the one remarkable thing is that they have always looked for the positive in people. They were almost blind to anything but the positive in people and they could ferret out, including from me, whatever was positive. This is a quality that I think was remarkable and I aspire to that, unsuccessfully, but I still keep aspiring to that, inspired by both Professor Menon and Professor Mallar. Professor Mallar, of course, was also an incredible scholar, even in casual conversation. The moment you raised a reference to the Constitution of India, Professor Mallar’s posture would become even more erect and his hands would move and his tone of voice would change and he would be at a podium and he would speak about the Constitution and its values and the Republic, with a kind of commitment, deep insight and an intimacy with the Constitution, that was truly inspiring. He had a very deep and very incisive understanding of the real purposes of law. Of course, he had that, but he transcended mere knowledge to acquire, as I said, wisdom about the law. I will always remember that.
He was also a great soul. The kind of person who comes into our lives very rarely. All of us, when we look back at our lives, we see only a handful of people who are great and noble souls and I think he was certainly one of those. I learned how to be a mentor from him. Not that I’ve learned it, but I saw in him an outstanding example of a selfless mentor, who was deeply committed to the National Law School of India, and deeply committed to mentoring the students there. There was nothing that would take higher priority than the National Law School and its students as far as he was concerned. In the most unassuming, the most humble, the most self-effacing manner, his commitment to this institution and these students was just phenomenal and I think he, to the last day, did not change.
I spoke to him a few months ago to inquire after him. He sounded well. I was in a way happy but in a way even more devastated to learn from Mrs. Mallar that he was no more. I was happy because he did not suffer. He was fine till the very end. He was peaceful, and he deserved that because he never caused even the least pain to anyone in his life. Therefore, the fact that he could pass away without suffering himself is a matter of enormous relief for us. But, of course, the fact that he is no more is something that we find very hard to reconcile ourselves to. I am personally deeply grateful to him for the immense love, wisdom, guidance and affection that he so generously gave to me. I am very, very grateful to have had the opportunity to have him in my life as a teacher, a guru and for me to be a disciple of his. Professor Mallar was deeply committed to the system that he served in an utterly selfless manner and I send my condolences to his family.
Professor A. Jayagovind [Former Vice-Chancellor, NLSIU, 2003-2009]
It is difficult to reconcile to the hard reality that Professor Mallar is no more. As a person, so full of life, he was the embodiment of “Goan Spirit” in the best sense of the term. He always had a grin on his face and cracked jokes most of the time at his own expense. As a true Goanese, he was always happy and I never saw him losing his cool.
Professor Mallar and I joined NLSIU more or less together way back in 1988. Professor Mitra, myself, Professor Mallar, Professor Vijayakumar, Professor N.S. Gopalakrishnan and Professor Joga Rao were the founding faculties of NLSIU, under the leadership of Professor Menon. The NLSIU was a small institution, probably the smallest University anywhere in the world. It was housed in an old, dilapidated shed of the Central College Campus. In order to lift our sagging morale, Professor Menon used to say by way of exhortation; NLSIU will be the “Harvard of the East” one day. We, the staff members used to joke among ourselves with Professor Mallar in the lead, that it would be the other way round; Harvard University will be known as NLSIU of the West. The jokes apart, we can be legitimately proud that we have realised this dream substantially. From physical infrastructure point of view, the NLSIU cannot come anywhere near to the Harvard Law School just as India cannot be compared with the U.S.A. But, the NLSIU is to the legal education in India what the Harvard Law School is to the legal education in the U.S.A.
Professor Mallar made significant contributions to the development of the NLSIU both academically and administratively. He was closely involved in the development of the Examination System. His experience as the Principal of VM Salgaocar College of Law in Goa stood him in good stead. When I became the Vice-Chancellor, he worked as the Registrar. As the administrative head, he had his own way of tackling complex issues. When some irate person shouted at him, his standard response was: ”sit down and have a cup of tea. Let us talk and solve the problem together”.
Mallar suffered a heart attack during his Registrarship. With the proper treatment, he recovered and carried on. As I could see, there was some kind of setback in his general health thereafter. Probably, this might have acted as a comorbidity in his case.
In the demise of Mallar, we lost a good friend, a fine teacher and above all a nice human being. Farewell to a dear friend. We convey our condolences to the bereaved family.
Professor R. Venkat Rao [Chairperson, Vivekananda School of Law and Legal Studies and Former Vice-Chancellor, NLSIU, 2009-2019]
One and only Professor Mallar for whom, NLS is like the basic structure of the consti. It was sacrosanct. I will share with you one hidden facet of Professor Mallar for two minutes. Once when we were together, he said “I will pen down a few lines as a poem about NLS”. I kept the paper for all these years and this was full of Mallarisms about NLS.
“National Law School of India University – an institution striving towards excellenceAn epitome of scholarship and leadership in legal education,In research, in training, in legal reforms, legal aid;NLSIU is a flame that has stood the test of time;NLSIU is defining today the new milestones chartering new horizons;NLS is constantly engaged in and logically immersed in perennial learning;Enabling every student to excel, to cross boundaries and to break barriers;NLS is fitting testament to the incredible belief that legal education can be and should be intellectually stimulating, professionally competent and socially relevant.”
That was Mallar.
We pray to the almighty to let the departed souls rest in peace and we also pray to the almighty to give courage and solitude to the members of the bereaved families.
Professor T.V. Subba Rao [Director, Research and Development Council and Visiting Professor, NLSIU]
Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to participate in the condolence meeting convened to mourn the demise of Professor Mallar. I am in utter shock. It is a personal loss for me. My association with him was only for nine years, but we were very close. I met him in 2010. His demise is unbelievable for me and now, even the words are not coming out of my mouth. We were together. We used to take lunch together every day and he used to stay in our quarters sometimes. We used to discuss the subject, he used to crack jokes in his inimitable style with the students and colleagues, we were very dear to the students. One thing I say for anybody, that muhurtam jwalitham shreyaha natu dhumayitam chirum, (Translation: better to burn refulgent for a moment, rather than living in smolder for eternity.) He was a wonderful teacher. Starting from Champakam Dorairajan till we reach Kesavanada Bharati’s case, he used to discuss every case with citation and the page number. He was thorough with the citations. The students enjoyed the way in which we fought in the classroom over the issues of constitutional law. He was always respectfully supporting the Supreme Court, whereas we were criticizing with regard to some cases. But still the affection he was showering, for 9 years, as an elderly brother, I cannot forget throughout my life. I was in shock and dismay when I came to know the fact that he has completed his voyage on the earth. Only our student-friends started asking me about it, “Sir, are you okay?”, “Sir, did you hear anything about Professor Mallar?”. At that time, I did not know anything. After some time, a student had confirmed that he is no more. Personally, it is a very great loss to me. His masterly exposition of the subject is unparalleled. His illustrious career as a teacher has come to an end but imprints are everlasting. I cannot even tell anything more than that. May his soul attain moksha.
Professor M.K. Ramesh [Professor of Law, NLSIU]
Mallar being no more is something that I cannot believe even now, I cannot take it. The three decades of association we shared is something that I cherish and will remain evergreen in my memory. It is a terrible irony that one and a half months ago, my colleagues, Professor Sairam and others, and I were planning the Golden Jubilee Celebration of 50 years for Professor Mallar in July, and then this happened. You just don’t know how to react to this, it really shattered us, as Professor Mitra and Professor Jayagovind have conveyed. But since Professor Venkata Rao has lightened it up by mentioning a few Mallar-isms, and the communication I received from Vikram Raghavan about his tribute to Professor Mallar was in the same vein, I think I will begin a little lightly, because that was the way Professor Mallar always started his conversations with everyone.
His jokes were humorous, which they were indeed, but at times they were a query, and they were upon himself as well. For me, yes on the surface it appeared very humorous, but I think they had deep insights in them, each one of them without a single exception. His jokes had deeper insights, implications and they made us introspect. Certainly, he had an uncanny ability to crack jokes about teachers themselves, including each one of us. One of those Mallerisms is that we as teachers, pretend to teach to start, then we tend to teach, and then we start teaching.
Well, there are many more as I can recall but since Professor Vijayakumar is here, I would like to recall something I thought that he would mention. This is something that alumni would also remember. During the viva, both Professor Vijaykumar and Professor Mallar would sit together and the student would start making his presentation. After a little while, the student would nudge Professor Vijaykumar and show him that Professor Mallar was dozing off. Then Mallar without opening his eyes would say “No no I’m listening to you – go on, but I would like you to focus on this particular aspect of this case law – elaborate on that, can you do a critique, and take a different position.” Well, as Professor Mohan Gopal mentioned, the profound knowledge and ability to relate things to each other is something which is inimitable as far as Professor Mallar is concerned. The elephantine memory that he had on constitutional case law is legendary. Quite often, in many public meetings that we had, we had to always depend on computers for information retrieval but computers do fail and when computers fail one would reach for Professor Mallar for the recall of all the case law, and he would never ever fail. Well, during the orientation program, he had this ability to really capture the attention of everyone. While explaining the examination system, he would keep telling the students, “Yes, we do have grace marks, but we want you to pass gracefully and come up with flying colours in the exams.”
Professor Mallar had this ability to couch very difficult decisions of the university with a little bit of humor. That came to the fore when all of us, including Professor Vijayakumar and I, had to convey a very difficult decision that we made with regards to the examination system, and he was our Chairman. So we looked up to Mallar and Mallar said, “Yes I will come with you and let’s face the students – what’s the big deal there, you know, they are ours, and what’s the problem.” He prefaced that bitter pill, with a few of those inimitable Mallerisms. After which he said “Look, we are passing through very difficult times, this is the test of our metal as the Law School, we need to really rise to the occasion. The rest of the country is looking up to us to raise the bar because there is no one to compete with us.”
That statement embodied the first ten years of our existence, where there was no other Law School in sight to compete with us, and he was telling us that we had to raise the bar and take this difficult decision. Very silently he released those two to three stringent regulations about passing exams and explained that the regulations were made a little bit more stringent so that we could become an example for the rest. This was the most difficult part. The entire class raised their hands when he was talking about the regulations and we thought that the students were in revolt. Mallar lowered his glasses and looked at the students and said “Ah yes, the class representatives can speak on behalf of the students and convey their sentiments to us.” What the student said floored every one of us. The class representative said, “Sir, just a while back you celebrated the house warming ceremony of your house. You did not invite any of us and therefore, we are in protest!” We were astounded that they were not complaining about the stringency of the regulations.
This was the charm of Professor Mallar. He was the kind of person who was always there for the institution, especially when it was going through a crisis situation. He was always the go-to person, not just for the Vice-Chancellor, but for each one of us who sought his help, aid, assistance and guidance. He never discriminated against anyone and he treated everyone with such respect that many times we felt that we did not deserve the kind of respect he gave to us. Yes, people did recognize him, gave him a lot of respect, but sincerely, I do feel even now, that whatever he gave to the institution, the institution did not treat him the way he should have been treated and which he richly deserved. He was a perfect gentleman, an ajathashatru.
I treat this as a very personal loss, like losing a family member. To me, he was like a caring elder brother. He epitomised the spirit of the National Law School. Integrity, untiring effort in improvisation and reform, dedication, commitment; he symbolised all these values of Law School. May his soul rest in eternal bliss.
Professor V. Vijayakumar [Director, NLIU Bhopal and Former Professor of Constitutional Law, NLSIU]
When I heard the news about the demise of Professor Mallar, it was really – we were not in a sense to say anything, speak anything. One of our students sent a photograph and a message of Kesavananda Bharati’s judgment in his remembrance. So I simply forwarded it to the people whom we knew together, so that was the response we had. Many people started calling me and sending messages and emails.
I met Professor Mallar on 30th January 1988 at the Indian Law Institute for the first time. He was already the principal of a Law College, and I was teaching at Presidency College. Though we were both competing for a position at NLS, we had a wonderful couple of hours together, after the interviews were over. And to our happiness, finally, we both got selected, and we met again in Bangalore. Right from the beginning, I knew that there was something, the spark that you have for each other, academically and otherwise, that went off very well. And in the initial stages, at the Central College Campus, we went into almost every class, whether we knew the subject or not. That’s how we went on to teach Legal History, you may be surprised, and Professor Elizabeth will kill us [chuckles], but still, we did that. Legal History, Torts, Legal Methods, we experimented with almost all the courses – the experiment was the co-operative teaching. And in that, I think he was a constant pillar, amongst the first three – M.K. Balachandran, Mallar, and myself – to start with, in teaching Constitutional Law. After one year, Professor Devidas joined us, and we continued for quite some time. Nobody was dominant in the class, and each one was respectful towards the other. But there was a dominant voice always, and that was Professor Mallar’s. I always used to have this microphone before me, but he had a booming voice and an elephantine memory. My god, I only wish I had only one-tenth or one-hundredth of his ability to remember case laws and whatnot.
He was unique in his own sense. There was an attempt to separate us when the timetable was drafted sometime later, which put him in charge of administrative law and put me in charge of constitutional law. But we never allowed the cooperative spirit to die and always I was there in administrative law class and he used to be in constitutional law class. And you will see that at one point of time we used to share the joke that we used to be afraid of going to the classes alone because of the cooperative teaching. That was the beauty in which we all worked and then we used to tell the first-year students that we are grateful to our senior students who made us what we are today. And that is how we invited the attention of the students in the constitutional law teaching.
Let me tell you, we are the only law school which compelled the students to carry the text of the constitution into the class. Sometimes we sent out the students for not bringing the text. I don’t think any other law school follows it so religiously like we did in the initial stages and I think it continues even now. We carried this cooperative teaching even to the training programs for IAS, IRS, and IPS officers. Everyone liked it because of the combination of all of us together. Many people may not remember this except Professor Mitra. If you look at the first eleven years of records of the NLS examination, basically it was dictated by Professor Mallar, written by me, because his handwriting was Napoleonic. He used to make fun of it and then tell that he himself cannot read it except Padma. That’s the way. So, he used to dictate and I used to write and we used to interchange, read and verify. For eleven years we maintained this record and Professor Mitra also used to come. Because he was a senior teacher, we did not allow him to do the clerical job.
Many people even said that it is basically a clerical job and asked why we were doing it. But I think while working with Professor Mallar, we never considered that as a clerical job. We enjoyed doing this for eleven years without any mistake – there was no computer and everything was handwritten – the records were kept so very well and the full credit goes to Professor Mitra and Professor Mallar for making us work together. The first NLS Review Committee made an observation that NLS Bangalore is the Harvard of the East. In one of the meetings you know, I still remember this, he was addressing the students and he was telling them, “Please don’t allow your interest and inclination to die down. It is only a statement coming from the West. And 10 years down the line I want Harvard to say that they are the National Law School of the West.” See the inclination, the development; I think something is marvellous about this man who twisted the whole thing and said Harvard should become the NLS of the West.
We enjoyed a lot of time together, particularly those one-hour breaks. Occasionally Dr. Menon used to come and stand outside and see what was happening because of the hilarious laughter during the lunch hours. I cherish the time we spent in the Law School sharing lunch and listening to the jokes by Professor Mallar and also KCG. I think the two of them made our lives much easier. Sometimes Professor Mallar who could not control his laughter would stand up and then run around and express so much positivity in sharing that joke. We thoroughly enjoyed those times. Also sometimes in the canteen when we went for tea, some of the jokes he cracked, my god, it was something superb and I can never forget all those wonderful moments, not only during lunch but even outside.
The responsibility that we learned coming from Chennai was that water and electricity were very dear to us. We were trained right from school education that we should not allow these things to be wasted. I found a wonderful person like Mallar, who was my super senior in Law College. Very super senior – I was in school when he completed his law. But the tenor and the training were the same. We never allowed any light in the Law School or any fan in the classroom or the faculty room run without the students or faculty there in the room. Physically, we used to go and switch off, and then only we would be satisfied. I think on many occasions Ramesh also joined us in doing that. In saving electricity, not only money, but also saving electricity. He also brought in the culture of using one-side papers to save the environment and share the revenue for the Law School. And these are small things that I think went a long way. Even today if you see, I have a bundle of papers in my office. People tend to look down upon us, but we enjoy using that one-side page – even now I am using a one-side page. So these were the things that we learnt while working responsibly with Professor Mallar. He was very instrumental in disposing of some of the waste of the Law School; the papers, the cardboards, whatnot, every year he would put the tender with commitment, he would come and say, “Yeah we have disposed of all this waste”.
Many people may not understand this, but I appreciated his involvement in that work of the Law School. His role in conferences and seminars, not as a speaker. I would like to share something which Ramesh also knows very well because Nagaraj, Ramesh and I, along with Professor Mallar, did this. Whenever there was a conference on the first floor, we used to stand near the main gate and direct the students, compel them to get into. Otherwise, you just dismiss the class and they will get out of the classroom. But you know, we used to stand in different places and guide the students to get in and obviously they had no other go but to go to the place and then we’d stand in the last row and enjoy the crowd.
Maybe they were cursing us, but I think many people enjoyed it when we did it. It was not mandated by anybody, yet we did it together and that was the role of the leader of Professor Mallar himself. I still remember that when the first mouse in the computer lab was lost, I told Mallar and asked what we should do. Quickly, we decided to go and address each and every class. I made the point that the mouse was missing and followed by that Professor Mallar would say “This is your institution”, and he motivated people to feel very bad about the theft. Finally, he would say, “Whether you have taken it knowingly or unknowingly, please return it and please place it before the Director’s room”. The next morning, we were all surprised as the mouse was placed in the same place where it was lost, and that type of motivation no one can induce except for Professor Mallar. On the lighter side I need to say something on this occasion because it’s difficult to remember the sad part of his demise. After his daughter got married and he went to the US for a couple of months, he returned back to the second-year Constitutional Law class. He was a new man because he wore this yellow T-Shirt, with the back portion two inches longer than the front side and he was looking a little jovial.
After taking the attendance I looked at him, and the students all laughed immediately and I said there was a very popular song at that time, “Aaja meri gaadi mein baith jaa”, and the entire class burst into laughter. I’ll just end with this anecdote: We went to Goa university for some admin-related work, his wife came to drop him off at the registration. She somehow looked at me and said, “Enjoy your stay”, because we were supposed to stay in the same room. Upon our return, she asked, “How was your stay? Was my husband snoring?”. I said, “Oh no, not at all”. She was a little puzzled. She looked at me and I said he was not just snoring, but roaring throughout the night. I think the way he also joined the laughter was something remarkable, and I really miss a friend in Professor Mallar, though he was much senior to me. I learnt a great deal, may his soul rest in peace. I pray to almighty God to give strength to Shanti Mallar in coping with the loss that she has suffered and that the NLS family would remember him forever.
Professor V.S. Elizabeth [Vice-Chancellor, TNNLU and Professor of History (On Lien), NLSIU]
I knew Professor Mallar a lot better than I knew Mr. Kumbar, for the simple reason that when I joined NLS in 1991 in the last month of the 1st trimester, NLS was still on the Central College campus. When we moved to our campus in December 1991, I had the good fortune of sharing the office space with Professor Vijayakumar and Professor Devidas. Professor Mallar was a member of that Constitutional Law trio, so he became the unofficial fourth member of that office. He was always in our office and so my early memories of NLS were him being jolly and always laughing. We had so many struggles and challenges as a first-of-its-kind university and lacked so many infrastructural and other facilities that we now take for granted at NLS. Those first 10-12 years were amazing, and in those years we literally were a family. Both Professor Mallar and Professor Vijayakumar didn’t stay on campus, yet they stayed on the premises till as late as 9:30 PM especially during the times when NLS was conducting the entrance exams. It did mean they had to neglect their family a lot during those early years, but their family members understood that NLS came first with them.
As so many have said before me, Professor Mallar epitomises what the early Law School was all about. From sharing the same common space and learning Constitutional Law through vicarious conversations with the students to the time when Professor Vijayakumar and Professor Mallar convinced me to join the LLB program at Bangalore University through the Rajiv Gandhi College of Law at Malleshwaram. Since I couldn’t take the application home with me, they insisted that I get done with the application right then and there. Professor Mallar went as far as to register as my guardian for it, and that experience worked so well in my favour and I am here today thanks to that.
I learnt so much about administration and working together from working under Professor Mallar & Professor Vijayakumar in the Examination Section. The nitty-gritties of administrative work, the need to pay attention to details, the conscientiousness with which you work everyday, selflessly without expecting any rewards – those first 10-12 years were years of sacrifice for people like Professor Mallar and Professor Vijayakumar who gave up their lucrative jobs and came here. For me, it was my first full-time job, I was already 30 at the time when I joined NLS, and, of course, we were paid a pittance – but you know it’s their spirit of sacrifice, their spirit of joy, their spirit of doing something new and experimental – it resulted in that sense of commitment. If I lasted at NLS for 28 years, it was simply because of the way in which Professor Menon, Professor Mallar, Professor Vijayakumar, Professor Devidas, Professor N.S. Gopalakrishnan, Professor Joga Rao, Professor Jayagovind all worked together the way we did and we were made to feel like NLS was ours, our investment. Therefore, what we did with NLS is about you know, what you do with your family – how you bring up your children without expecting anything in return. The joy of that investment has been the relationships we built with each other, especially in those first 10-12 years (gradually things began to fade away) and the relationship built with our students. If today I have strong relationships with lots of my former students it is thanks to that sense of being together and being a family. It is that which has made me the kind of person that I am today and made me able to do the things that I am doing at TNNLU, remembering what I had learnt in the early years at NLS and trying to impart the same sense of oneness and commitment to my colleagues at TNNLU.
Amongst the many things of course, that Professor Mallar did – and I don’t know how many of us remember this – he taught tax law. And, you know, I think that stayed with him because even as he saved money, he was careful and he didn’t like wasting money, he was constantly advising us as well. Even a couple of months back, he wrote a 3-page letter to me mailed to my TNNLU address, advising me on how to invest my money and which is the best scheme that I should invest in. I’m glad that he did that because it made me pick up the phone, call him and thank him for remembering me even at a time like this and he was again, as usual, so modest, made light of it and not taking any credit, saying that it was his duty to do it.
I will just end by saying that the thing that I remember and learned from him is to be able to laugh at myself. Actually, I don’t think I learned from him, I can’t laugh at myself. Professor Mallar not only cracked jokes and made other people laugh – he’d be the first one to laugh at his jokes – but more importantly, he did not fear to laugh at himself and he cracked jokes at his expense. I don’t think I can do that. But, that was the extent to which he was confident in himself. He was a person who had no hard feelings, no sense of competitiveness, no “great ambitions” except to give his best to the NLS family.
With that, I just want to say it’s a terrible loss that we don’t have him anymore. I can’t believe he’s gone and that we’ll never see him again on this side of the world. I pray that God will comfort his wife, his daughters and his extended family and help them to bear this sudden loss and enable them to bear this grief they must be going through. All of us who you know, knew this one side of him, feel this terrible loss – I just can’t imagine what they are going through but they can be proud of the fact that he was a fantastic person and has contributed in so many ways to so many people and his memory will live on forever. Thank you very much.
Professor N.S. Gopalakrishnan [Professor, Cochin University of Science and Technology and Former Additional Professor, NLSIU]
I was deeply touched when I was informed by Dr. Rose Varghese that Professor Mallar is no more. It is a personal loss to me at any cost. I was one of the youngest faculty members in the initial days of the National Law School and we used to sit together in the Central Law College. I used to sit outside the room where Professor Mallar and Professor Mitra used to sit. I was a firebrand in many ways, always quarreling with people. But Professor Mallar was the one who became close to me and who used to advise me to be polite and be careful. He’s a great human being, full of love for others.
I was there only for the initial 9-10 years in the Law School. Those were the formative years of NLS and as I recall, Professor Mallar was the one who sacrificed the maximum at the cost of his career for the growth of the National Law School. I don’t know whether NLS has given him back what he deserves completely, for the sacrifice he made. The initial batch of students knows pretty well and is reflected from what Murali Neelakantan and Vikram Raghavan have written about Professor Mallar. Their writings show the influence of Mallar on students as well as on the institution – the foundation that he has laid down for the institution. If we talk very highly of NLS, Mallar’s contribution is something that the founding members remember very fondly and which cannot be forgotten. I was not surprised when Professor Mitra said that his voice choked when he spoke about Mallar. He was really a family member. I am feeling so bad because there are so many personal things that Mallar did for me that I fondly remember every day. I pray for his soul and I also share my condolences with the family members.
Dr. Mahesh Yaranal [Librarian In Charge, NLSIU]
About Professor Mallar, he was a great supporter of the library, and under his leadership, we could get the collection of one of our foundations. We also got some money to update that collection. Whenever he used to come to the library, by his loud voice itself we used to get to know that Professor Mallar is here. Many times he used to just come and check the page numbers and go back. His actions used to always speak louder than his voice. I express my deep condolence to the bereaved family.
Mr. Madhu K.S. [Assistant Librarian, NLSIU]
Professor Mallar was the guiding force of the National Law School. Whenever he used to see me he used to say, “How is your health? You should take care of your health”. In December, he came to the library and he asked me for my medical prescription. He was aware of my medical expenses. He helped me find the substitutes from the Pradhan Mantri medical stores. After one week, he sent me the whole list of substitute medicines. He also advised me to take advice from my doctors and show them these medicines, and ask them whether I could take these so that my expenses would come down.
One more thing about Professor Mallar is that he always used to ask about NLS Publication. I remember, along with late Muthuraj sir, we found out the law school library’s address from the bar council website. We sent more than 500-600 letters to each and every law college and to schools, mentioning 50% discount on NLS publication. He was very happy and he appreciated us for that work. One more thing about Professor Mallar is he always used to say, ‘If you have recognition in society today, it’s because of law school. Don’t forget that. It‘s our duty to protect law school.’ It really touched my heart. If I am alive today, it’s because of law school. I am deeply saddened by Kumbar and Mallar sir’s demise. May God give their families strength to overcome this loss.
It would only be fitting to finish with a Mallarism. He used to say at the end of a course, ‘This is not the last lecture, it is only the concluding lecture’. This is not the last opportunity to celebrate the life of Professor Mallar, an extraordinary gentleman. We hope that we as a community will have many more opportunities to do so.
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