Print industry pays homage to P B Kulkarni

Prof Dr Padmakar Bhagwant Kulkarni, known as Dr Pa Bha Kulkarni, passed away on Friday 24 October 2014. PaBha was an iconic print personality, who boosted the cause of education in the print industry. Born and brought up in Pune; his career was studded with scholarships and PhDs and MScs from Germany and England.

14 Nov 2014 | By Noel D'Cunha

Dr Prof Pa Bha Kulkarni passed away at the age of 82. As a founder member, he played a crucial role in shaping PVG’s Maharashtra Institute of Printing Technology and the College of Engineering and Technology institutes.

Dr Kulkarni started working as a lifetime member with PVG in 1962. After completion of his MSc in printing technology from Germany, he went on to complete his PhD from the same institute.

After returning to India, he served as PVG’s president for 15 years. During this time he was instrumental in setting up the Institute of Printing Technology. He was actively involved as founder-professor at this Institute till 2000.

Over the years, Dr Kulkarni has worked with various educational institutes and printers associations including Pune Press Owners’ Association, All India Federation of Master Printers,  Pune University, Jadavpur University and Manipal University among others.

Pa Bha completed his education from Pune Vidyarthi Griha’s school. He travelled to Germany and got a doctorate in printing. But he was not enamoured by the easy and elite life of Europe. He returned to his karmabhoomi in India and set up the Institute of Printing Technology in Pune Vidyarthi Griha.

This is the same school where he was schooled and he is known for the work in educating the downtrodden class of society. He set up an Engineering college in Pune for printing technology as well as other branches.

Pa Bha (r) with India's former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi

Anand Limaye, of India Printing Works in Mumbai and Hon Gen secretary of the All India Federation of Master Printers, pays tribute to Dr Pa Bha Kulkarni.

Pa Bha Kulkarni was the president of the All India Federation of Master Printers in 1994-95, which is the national level apex body of printers’ associations of India. When necessity arose, in 2002-03, he did not hesitate to accept the presidential post at the Maharashtra Mudran Parishad, the state-level body of printers’ associations in Maharashtra.
He played a crucial role in setting up the Maharashtra Mudran Parishad’s Institute of Printing Technology at Panvel (40 kms from Mumbai). Without insufficient infrastructure, the MSBTE awarded an  AICTE approved course of Diploma in Printing Technology. This was on the basis of Pa Bha’s credentials.
This inspired me to accept the challenge to become the chairman of this Institute after his retirement. Also it gave me the courage to accept the affiliation of the deemed university TISS to start the degree course in MMPIPTR. This could happen because of the foundation laid by the great Dr Pa Bha Kulkarni.
On behalf of the printing fraternity, I pay homage to this great educationist.

Yashwantrao Chavan, the former Defence Minister of India, acccepting the salutations of NCC cadets during the inauguration of Mukunda Vyayam Shala with NCC officer Pa Bha Kulkarni (r)

Dr Rajendrakumar Anayath who is the director at the Technological Institute of Textile & Sciences, Bhiwani (Haryana), remembers his print guru.

A prodigy known as “Pa Bha” our beloved Professor, P B Kulkarni is no more ...

Prof Dr P B Kulkarni, people fondly called him “Pa Bha” is one among the greatest "print academicians" of post independence India. He was instrumental in making each one of us successful in the chosen field. My last meeting with him was a couple of years ago and let me share that memory photograph for you. 

On 5 September, on teacher’s day, I meticulously called him in the early morning to take his blessings. However, he was unable to recognise my voice and I realised that the times have changed.

My heartfelt tribute to my teacher, who created a benchmark in the history of modern “Indian Print Education”.

A real master to be remembered, always!

Pranaam Sir!

Pa Bha with Padmashree P L Deshpande, during the inauguration of Muktangan Balranjan Kendra

TS Santhanam, Former Vice President South, AIFMP

Pa Bha received the German government scholarship for higher education in printing. He worked rigorously and completed his MSc with distinction. Later he completed his PhD. in Print Engineering as well. His education in Germany lasted for six and a half years.

When the returned to India, the time was opportune, modern print technology was being introduced. His education ensured many offers from across the globe and different corners of India. In such an environment he could have easily established his own unit and made money. But Pa Bha wasn’t interested in money, he devoted himself to the alma mater that had educated him, supported him and helped him. He decided to develop the institution and dedicated his printing education to train the younger generations, thus improving print standards in India.

Pa Bha with Vilasrao Deshmukh (r), former chief minister of Maharashtra

Suhas Kulkarni, Regional technical specialist, Dupont
I first met Pa Bha when I had already secured admission in another college and I had not known about the printing technology course offered by PVGCOET. My father flew me down from Chennai to inform me about it as I had shown interest in the Graphic Arts.

When I first met Pa Bha, he left a great impression on me of being of someone who is disciplined and highly dedicated person. This was apparent throughout my years at PVG and this impression only grew stronger.

Today, the Indian print industry needs a lot of printing professionals. We who are on the look out for students try to ensure that they meet the demands rather than the other way round. Pa Bha’s foresight was to see the growth in print and increased demand for printing professionals in the industry. Some of my customers have asked about my college and I am truly proud of being one of Pa Bha’s students.

Pa Bha with the renowned actor Nana Patekar (l)

Lalit Kumar Misri, Divisional head industrial electronics, LML

I am proud to say that I belonged to the very first batch of BE printing at PVG. The first year of the college of printing engineering and graphic communication which was renamed as College of Engineering and Technology, was full of difficulties and hurdles. Dr Pa Bha Kulkarni was a strong man who faced difficulties bravely as the principal of the college. He strove hard to provide all the facilities that are expected of a college. He was the architect of the BE course and also got it approved from Pune University.

Once a committee came to the college to reconsider the college’s approval. After patiently hearing Pa Bha’s and the opponent’s pleadings and careful consideration they asked, “Now that the baby has been born shouldn’t it be brought up?” This completely trumped the opponents of the college.

Pa Bha was an able administrator, who gave us excellent guidance. He used to say, “You are the victims of the first experiment.” But I for one never felt like a victim. Today, whatever I am is all thanks to our principal; it was he who founded the college and populated Vidyanagari.

At a Delhi print exhibition in January 2005 some of the former students had a grand get together with Pa Bha. On that day, innumerable memories of our college days were re-lived.

At the engineering college campus: (l-r) Prof Dr Doke,  KG Sonar, Manugraph's Sanat Shah, Prof Dr PB Kulkarni and Vasudev Shah

Surendra Dhote, Former president, AIFMP

Pa Bha Kulkarni was the father figure in the Indian printing industry. I think of myself as his disciple and it is a privilege for me to pay homage to my Guru. After 48y ears of dedicated service as a trustee at Pune Vidyarthi Griha he retired in August 2002 at the age of 69.

He had to encounter harsh reality and was struck by tragedy early in his life as he lost his parents at a tender age in a grusome incident. But through sheer determination and strong will power he overcame the hurdles and became successful in every walk of life.

Sanjeev Popli, Director, Popli Graphics

I feel blessed and proud to place on record that I am lucky to be a student of Pa Bha Kulkarni during the course of my studies in Pune between the period of 1985 to 1989.

Pa Bha was a highly capable man who possessed dynamic leadership qualities. He was responsible for raising the level of printing education in India. He took immense pain and pleasure to initiate the Print Engineering Faculty at Pune. It was he who sowed the seeds for the institution. He nourished it with his hard work and untiring efforts in order to achieve his goal.

Pa Bha has left a legacy in social, educational and printing spheres. He never forgot his responsibility towards the institution and was instrumental in opening hostels for destitute children in Pune and Nasik.

Pa Bha with Vitthalraoji Gadgil, president of the institute

NS Majumdar, Former director and vice chairman, PVG

There was hardly a time when Pa Bha declined to help someone. He was very helpful and expected nothing in return. I had seen him helping out a poor boy with a scholarship so he could continue his education after meeting him once. Pa Bha has helped a lot of people who needed his help.

I remember his daily visits to Saras Baug, Siddhivinayak. After his walk, he would stand in front of Siddhivinayak and chant Atharva Sheersha and then return home. Once during his daily walk he came across a mother and a daughter who were wandering the streets, he spoke to the two women and helped them shelter at well-known hostel. Truly, altruism was his religion.

I first met him in Jayant Boarding House in 1954-55; we spoke of many things over the meals that we shared. We called ourselves Bhojan Bandhus. In 1961-62 we were reunited in Tilak College’s B Ed course as classmates; it was also the year of floods and many hut-dwellers on the banks of Mutha river had lost their houses, Pa Bha was involved in the management of their temporary shelter at the Anath Vidyarthi Griha.      

Later I learned Pa Bha’s family— father, mother and two uncles where massacred during the Razakar movement. At a tender age of 14 Pa Bha was besieged with adversity. He was resilient and a hard working; and he overcame the adversities and emerged stronger from this tragedy. Pa Bha could bear anything and march on.

R Suresh, Former president, Kerala Master Printers Association

I had known Professor Kulkarni for more than two decades. My acquaintance with him started with All India Federation of Master Printers of which I was the governing council member representing Kerala Master Printers Association. I used to meet him regularly during governing council meetings for 16 years. Every time I met him, I made sure to ask him about the latest trends and developments in the printing industry and he would always oblige.

As an academic man he kept a tab on the latest data and never hesitated in sharing his knowledge with others. I believe that quality in print was developed thanks to his investment in education. I had the pleasure of spending three-day with him when we hosted the All India Conference at Kochi in 1994 where he was elected as the president of AIFMP. His sober mannerism, patience and amiable character have always been and will be an example for other Presidents to follow.

He will be remembered for setting up several technical institutions, charity houses and hostels. His social work is truly laudable. He was also responsible for framing the syllabi for BE (printing) at PVG, Pune.

The family photograph: (l-r) Ashwini, Ujwala, Pa Bha, Niharika, Mamta and Kiran; (standing) Sachin and Bipin 

Madhura Mahajan, Assistant Professor, Printing Engineering & Graphic Communication, PVG COET

I still vividly remember the first day of my college. In fact every single day I had interacted with Pa Bha Sir. The journey began in 1990 when I completed my HSC and was admitted to the College of Printing Engineering and Graphic Communication at PVG in Pune.

I remember the rainy first day, small college campus, old building, a school, an orphanage and a printing press. Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous. There was positivity in the atmosphere. This positivity, I slowly realised, was thanks to the principal Pa Bha Sir, whom I saw primarily as a strict disciplinarian.

All the lectures used to happen with practically nobody bunking the classes. We had the best teachers in all fields of engineering. Amidst this discipline, was a tremendous sense of love and affection that not only nurtured the best among all students but also developed a sense of responsibility among us. 

And since he gradually helped us build our esteem and learn to love ourselves which slowly made us more and more responsible, independent and credible. Basically, it was this that increased our respect for him.

That’s the reason we all love and respect him and shall do this forever and will miss him too. Everyone is aware, Pa Bha Sir, not only, developed the printing course in our college, but also the entire institute. He was a policy maker at University level, as well as at the government level. His unique ability of reaching the heart of every person took him to a great heights.

Today, we all realise the importance of good governance. But as a student and also when I joined the college as a faculty member in 1996, I have seen good administration and governance. His thirst for knowledge and adapting new technology in fact made life easy for many around him. 

All of us know, life is not eternal, things move on, but what matters most is how well the message of a good life gets carried forward to future generations. That’s how Pa Bha Sir has created many generations with his values almost carved on our minds forever and which shall automatically pass on ...

Nitin Wani, country manager – business development, Dainippon Screen Singapore

My first acquaintance with Pa Bha Sir was in 1985 when I reached the PVG office, after completion of HSC, for the admission of its new degree course in Printing Engineering. He used to meet everyone who showed interest in the new course and explain the scope for printing engineers in India. It was Pa Bha Sir who motivated me to opt for BE in printing leaving aside the seat for chemical engineering and architecture. And I have never in my life regretted this decision.

Over the next four years, we met on a daily basis. He left no stone unturned to provide us the best of experts. His priority was the welfare of students and raising the quality of printing education at the institute.

As our first batch was ready to enter the print industry, he used his contacts to make sure that each of us was absorbed in the industry. And thanks to him, all of us had a job offer before the final examination. Even though all of us, later, got busy with our jobs, the memories of PVG were never be erased.

Whenever we visited Pune, it was a routine to meet Pa Bha Sir and other members of the faculty. He used to proudly introduce us as a student of the first batch of PVG. He was very fond of all of us. He used to narrate his daily drill from a walk to Parvati in the morning to the visit to Sarasbaug in the evening.

Thereafter, as we got to know of him being unwell, we planned to get together to meet him. It was 25th anniversary of the institute. Pa Bha Sir was recuperating from a by-pass surgery. He was excited about the celebrations. He accompanied us to show the new building of the college and narrated other developments. Even in that condition, he spent time with us for his love as a friend, philosopher and guide. Another facet of Pa Bha was his loving nature.

In the later stage, his health was not in a good shape. His outdoor forays ceased. My last meet with him was when he was bed ridden. He was trying to speak but his condition was too critical. I said, Sir get well soon while leaving.

On 24 October, the news of Pa Bha Sir being no more was delivered in our inboxes. The mind went numb. He was the one who added colours to the lives of many. On behalf of all his students, I pay homage to Pa Bha Sir.

(Interviews compiled with the help of Nitin Wani and Rushikesh Aravkar)