A RENAISSANCE MAN

How does one describe in words a staggering array of accomplishments being built into one lifetime? Nadoja Dr Wooday Krishna's is not a simple resume - rather, a mere perusal of this biographical sketch gives one the sense of a fully filled out lifeworld propelled by a belief in goal-oriented action across all sectors of life - spanning technology, law, pedagogy, philanthropy and cultural rootedness.

Finding the sublimest sources of inspiration in the words of Vivekananda and Gandhi is what spurs the remarkable lifework of Dr Krishna — a transformational figure and a rare blend of many of the best qualities humanity can possess. An educationist, a technocrat, an outstanding institution-builder, a techno-legal expert of high eminence, a social worker, a prolific writer in Kannada and English — it is difficult to list his accomplishments without conceiving of him as the fullest realisation of a Renaissance Man.

Born in 1963 in Bengaluru, Dr Krishna comes from an illustrious family whose stellar contribution on many fronts tells us how his universalist kind of persona was forged. His great grandfather, Woodeda Hanumanthappa (1856-1928), was not just the owner of the Corundum and Manganese Mines but also a noted folklorist of his times. A lane in Balepet, Bengaluru, is named after him. His grandfather, W.H. Hanumanthappa (1885-1977), was a freedom fighter; a founder-member of the Mysore Congress; a member of the Mysore Representative, Constituent and Legislative Assemblies; and also a Mayor of Bengaluru. The 5th Main Road, Gandhinagar, Bengaluru, is named after him. His father, W.H. Puttiah (1923-2012), a merchant by vocation, was a freedom fighter too and also a philanthropist. The 3rd ‘B’ Main Road in Sriramnagar, Mahalakshmipuram, Bengaluru, is named after him. They have, as it were, literally embossed themselves on Karnataka’s rich cultural, political and educational landscape.

With his own exemplary contribution in the fields of education and civil society, Dr Krishna has carried on this avowable tradition. And he started young: as a 19-year-old in 1982, Dr Krishna took active part in the famous ‘Gokak Agitation’ demanding primacy of Kannada in school education, courting arrest in the process. This commitment he has carried through untiringly, both in the world of letters and in the physical sense—having attended the 5th World Kannada Conference organised by AKKA (Association of Kannada Kootas of America), Chicago, 2008. The rich loam of Karnataka is what forms him in a very deep sense. And from there has fructified a life spent in mission mode, with an astounding variety of engagements.

A chartered engineer-arbitrator and the Honorary General Secretary of Seshadripuram Educational Trust, one of Karnataka’s oldest and largest group of educational institutions, Dr Krishna’s lifework has been honoured at the global, national and state levels. His international professional accolades include prestigious fellowships of the Institution of Engineering and Technology of the UK, and the World Academy of Productivity Science, Canada. At the national level, in recognition of his dedicated services to the nation, Dr Krishna has been conferred with the President’s Gold Medal, the national award given for exceptional humanitarian work involving the Red Cross. And the Government of Karnataka has honoured him with the State Award for empowerment of persons with disabilities; the State Youth Award for youth and community services; and also the State Rajyotsava Award for social service. He has also been conferred with the prestigious Nadoja Award which is equivalent to an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature (D.Litt.) by Kannada University, Hampi.

Just a listing of his educational degrees demonstrate his all-round catholic disposition: he holds Master’s degrees in Engineering and Law, and also a Ph.D. in Business Administration, M.S. in Industrial Engineering & Management, B.E. (Mechanical), LL.B., LL.M. (Contracts, including Mercantile Law), M.A. (Sociology) and a diploma in Journalism to round it off.

And his professional profile is no less endowed with markers of sheer variety and calibre: a senior chartered engineer and Government of India Registered Valuer of Machinery and Plant and an arbitration engineer with over three decades of experience and expertise in teaching, training and research, techno-legal consultancy, engineering inspection and certification, disaster management and educational administration.

Within this is contained a transitional journey from being a successful educator to a technical arbitrator of high eminence who has consistently delivered comprehensive, fact-based, sector- specific, top-notch and high-value arbitration awards that have stood the test of legal scrutiny. He built a reputation as a proponent of institutional arbitration, working as co-arbitrator along with retired High Court and Supreme Court judges.

As Chairman of the Institution of Engineers (India), Karnataka State Centre, and someone who convened the Indian Engineering Congress, the largest such conclave in India, in Bengaluru, 2011, he has kept up a full array of many-faceted engagements. His commitment to a paradigm of individual social responsibility has come via a focus on voluntary non-political public service spanning over three decades.

Dr. Krishna also holds top positions across institutions—he is the President of the Karnataka Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, the National President of the Indian Institution of Production Engineers, and a member of the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority with the rank of Minister of State. He has also held key positions in the national management of highly credible pan- India service organisations like the Indian Red Cross Society and the Tuberculosis Association of India.

Besides the indefatigable work he has carried through his eventful life, Dr Krishna has organised and attended a number of technical seminars, symposia, workshops, conventions and conferences on engineering, valuation and arbitration at the state, national and international levels, and has penned a number of technical papers in the fields of mechanical engineering and asset valuation.

His techno-legal accomplishments of course do not exhaust his glittering resume. He has represented India at the Second & Third Commonwealth International Humanitarian Law Conferences held in New Zealand (2007) and Malaysia (2011) respectively—and also the 17th South Asia Teaching Session on International Humanitarian Law held at Kathmandu, Nepal, in 2010, at the invitation of the International Committee of the Red Cross. A World Engineers Summit on Climate Change, Singapore, came in 2015. He was also part of the Indian delegation that visited China in 2006 on a goodwill mission; and of Technovation delegations that visited Russia in 2015, Hannover Masse, Germany, in 2017, and Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2018.

But Dr Krishna’s passion for the engaged life he leads is animated by a deep kernel desire to spread the light to all others, both at the school and university level. As an educationist, he has constantly tried to put into practice his strong belief that everybody has a right to education. An optimist to the core and imbued with a strong belief that it is a sacred duty to take education to the remotest areas and to those to whom access to education is difficult or denied, he has lived this credo. Even as an undergraduate student in Engineering, Dr Krishna volunteered to teach Physics at free coaching classes for Class X and Class XII students, organised by Jnanasagara Association in Doddaballapur in the suburbs of Bengaluru from 1982 to 1985.

A core part of his métier is, thus, education itself. He is the longest-serving Honorary General Secretary of the well-known Seshadripuram Educational Trust, Bengaluru, founded in 1930, consisting of premier schools and colleges, including Seshadripuram College, which is ranked 20th among the Top 40 Colleges in the country by Education Word. He has been instrumental in providing ‘man-making, nation-building’ education at affordable cost to over 23,000 students ranging from kindergarten to doctoral studies.
Dr Krishna has served as a Member of Karnataka State Private Pre-University Colleges’ Fee Fixation Committee constituted by Govt of Karnataka. He is the President of the Karnataka Private Post-Graduate Colleges Association, which conducts the annual K-MAT, Karnataka Management Aptitude Test—a prerequisite for admission to MBA programmes in private B- schools in Karnataka. Dr Krishna is also the Secretary of Karnataka Private Colleges Managements’ Association. He was on the Academic and Development Committee of Atria Institute of Technology, Bengaluru; and was on the panel of Visiting Professors at several B Schools across Karnataka and beyond.

Dr. Krishna has been nominated as an Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering, New Horizon College of Engineering (Autonomous), Bengaluru. He also does student counselling through the electronic media. He has been a National Council Member of the Institution of Engineers (India), Kolkata, a statutory professional body of engineers with over a million members. The Karnataka State Centre received the ‘Best State Centre Award’ for the year 2014-15 during his chairmanship. Besides, he is a past Member of the Board of Management of Engineering Staff College of India, Hyderabad, a National-Level Learning Centre for Practising Engineers; Member of the Board of Governors of National Design and Research Foundation, Bengaluru, a national platform for exploring and disseminating new and emerging design and research concepts. Dr Krishna has constantly made contributions for promoting quality in technical education in the country.

He has also been a jury member of ‘Sarva Shiksha Empowering India’ Awards sponsored by National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET), Quality Council of India and Times Now channel to recognise the contribution of private unaided schools providing quality and value-based education to the underprivileged across India. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike conferred on him the prestigious Kempegowda Award in 2002 for his contribution to the field of education. And the Hindu Group honoured him with ‘The Doyens Award (2017)’ in recognition of his exemplary commitment and impactful positive contribution to education in Karnataka.
But it is a humanistic and Gandhian spirit that colours all his endeavours. What he seeks to actuate is his strong belief in the cause of human rights, social justice and empowerment of women and the marginalised sections of society by sensitising students through the various fora established in the educational institutions run by him. It is this belief in the collective advancement of humanity that informs and shines through his actions.