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  • 123 and counting: Celebrating 123rd birth anniversary of Dr TMA Pai, Founder, Manipal Group

    Published on May 1, 2021

    Manipal: This year would be the 123rd birth anniversary (30th April) of Dr TMA Pai and, like every year, this day is special day for the entire Manipal group. Dr. TMA Pai’s was always known as a visionary for the transformation of Indian Education System and he contributed immensely. Born on 30th April 1898 at Kallianpur of Udupi District of Karnataka, Dr. Tonse Madhav Anant (TMA) Pai obtained MBBS degree in 1925 from Madras Medical College.

    Dr TMA Pai was a self-made man who could understand the local problems and his desire to serve the people motivated him to find out ways and means commensurate with the conditions prevailing in those days. Dr TMA Pai believed in innovation is the key to problem solving had realized that the three main ills confronting the community were illiteracy, ill health, and poverty. He made this his mission to solve these problems by creating an infrastructure that can help mankind.

    Dr. TMA Pai was a community leader with many a mission. He had realized the elegant truth that behind all human endeavour was commitment to work without getting excited about the rewards.   He had realized that in the game of life, success was determined by taking the hand dealt out to you and utilizing it to the very best of your ability. He had a deep commitment for improving educational facilities and he believed every child was a potential source of strength to society and all it needed was encouragement and facilities to develop that potential. He was a man of practicality who had realized the truth of the precept “self-help is the best help.” With his touch and inspiration, he turned a 107 acres of land on top of a rocky hill near Udupi into a hub for education in the Deccan region. The place then called ‘Mannapalla’ meaning mud pond in the local Tulu language, became Manipal. Having his sway over the intelligentsia and the common folk, he suggested ways to surmount the community ills and problems. He started with opening nursery and primary schools and later secondary schools in rural areas surrounding Manipal, taking into confidence the local community leaders. His motivation and inspired guidance paved the way in the establishment of many educational institutions right from primary to secondary schools to professional colleges for skill training can boast of the solid foundation laid by Dr. TMA Pai.

    Dr. TMA Pai always wanted to step into the field on education and later in the year 1942 Academy of General Education introducing training courses in printing, radio servicing, plumbing, carpentry, mechanical and electrical engineering etc. which could provide job opportunities to students who could not continue their education beyond the secondary stage. Continuing his crusade of providing educational facilities to students in rural parts, he took into confidence the local leaders and with their support, started primary and secondary schools in the neighborhood of Manipal. His first effort of starting an institution of higher education became a reality with the opening of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College at Udupi in 1949. With similar cooperation and support from other community leaders, he was able to start arts, science and commerce colleges at Kundapura, Karkala, Mulki, Moodbidri and Sringeri over the next few years. He was a self-made man who believed in people coming together in building up institutions for common good without looking for government assistance always. He demonstrated the strength of this argument through the various institutions he could build with people’s involvement and cooperation. He became a source of inspiration for many leaders to emulate his fine example.

    Dr Ranjan Pai, President MAHE & Chairman Manipal Education & Medical Group, Bengaluru “Today we are remembering Dr TMA Pai and his brainchild the Manipal Group, which has always been class apart and a pioneer in several fields. We are already proud of that fact that MAHE was the first Indian higher education institution to set up a campus overseas. In the 1953, when Kasturba Medical College, Manipal was set up, we were the first medical college in the private space outside of the missionary set-up. We are proud to inform that, currently   Manipal has medical colleges in India, Nepal, Antigua-USA & Malaysia.  Keeping our legacy and great values in mind we only aim to go up and forward and follow Dr TMA Pai’s footsteps”.

    Dr TMA Pai was a man wearing several hats. He was conferred the prestigious Padma Shri Award by the President of India in 1965. Earlier the Government of Mysore had honoured him with Public Service Award in 1962 and in 1974 the Mysore University honoured him with Doctor of Science (Honoris Caus) degree. He was Governor of Rotary International District 318 during 1964-65. He was a strict disciplinarian with a strong will. His family traits included a spirit of enterprise, progressive orientation, a very good application to work, determination to see the projects undertaken to successful completion and refusal to admit defeat. One of his assets was a keen sense of public relations. The secrets of his success were first vision – vision to see what was needed and what was possible, second courage – courage to start new institutions where others felt impossible to succeed. According to him, his philosophy was one of service – to one’s family, friends and to the world’s people as God’s one big family. He has lived through his philosophy and will ever remain green in people’s memory. 

    Dr HS Ballal, Pro Chancellor, Manipal Academy of Higher Education “Today we are celebrating 123rd Birth Anniversary of Dr TMA Pai. Our core value has remained the same over the years, but we have adopted to the changes as and when it comes and we have grown in size, reach, offerings and we have made a mark globally. Our founder, Dr T.M.A. Pai always believed in continued this tradition, which is the core strength of Manipal, and it has, and it will exponentially grow over the years.”

    Dr. Pai expounded his views on almost every subject. He said “My philosophy is one of service – to one’s family, friends and to all the world’s people as God’s one big family. If you serve the common man, he will trust you and help you to attain success; co-operation is the rule I live by and if you have it, you can accomplish anything.” He had identified poverty, disease and ignorance as the basic ills of Indian society and through providing educational facilities and healthcare, he felt all other ills could be tackled successfully. He believed that persistence, combined with patience, would in the end win out and he proved the truth of this philosophy through his accomplishments.

    Under the sponsorship of Academy of General Education which he founded in 1942, he started with public support and cooperation, a number of high schools and first-grade arts, science and commerce colleges and a medical college in 1953 – India’s first ever non-missionary self-financing private medical college. He set the ball rolling for setting up a university in Manipal.  He could not do that as he died in 1979.  However, his illustrious son Dr Ramdas M Pai, our present Chancellor carried forward the legacy of his father and established Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) in 1993 with the conferment of deemed university status by the Government of India under Section 3 of the UGC Act 1956. Dr Ramdas M Pai made Manipal an international University township and also took Indian Higher Education overseas for the first time. His unwavering practice of “Integrity at any cost” has been the bedrock on which today’s Manipal has been built. Dr Pai continues to be the guiding light and inspiration for all of us. Dr Ranjan R Pai (son of Dr Ramdas M Pai) is at the forefront of enterprise in education, healthcare, cutting edge research and health insurance. With several spectacular successes behind him, he represents the third generation. Commitment, perseverance, integrity and humility have been the core values of the family and the University has adopted them as its own in its march forward.

    Lt Gen (Dr) M D Venkatesh, Vice-Chancellor, Manipal Academy of Higher Education.  “As weremember and pay our tribute to Dr TMA Pai on his 123rd birthday, we look back on the journey in MAHE following his values.  We feel highly satisfied in our achievements that have brought Manipal on the Map of the world.  His vision and values have great relevance even in this Covid -19 pandemic and has helped us in creating a  safe learning environment.  Dr TMA Pai had expertise in several fields and his vision was always guide us in the coming years towards achieving excellence”.

    Even in this time when the world is facing one of the biggest pandemics, we were also impacted. But with our relentless efforts we were able to get the situation under control which is gradually improving. Our aim is not only to help our students with education and guidance but an overall and holistic development and nurturing for them which includes safeguarding them. Most students felt that they have grown stronger, especially because they have learnt to face the pandemic, and take care of themselves, despite being away from their parents. And we are trying our best to ensure that students are not put to any kind of hardship. Testing of all students and faculty has been completed, and the testing for the rest of the staff is almost complete.


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