Vittala Nayak - Versatile student of the first batch who made a career in the Indian Army

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Moodubelle, 16 December 2009: A little before the Naal Beedhi from Moodubelle, to the left side of the road is a terrace house named ‘Anugraha’ with bright colour, neat courtyard and beautiful garden. This house is the residence of one of the first batch students of St. Lawrence High School fifty years ago. The meticulous way that the house and the surroundings are maintained makes one to guess that the resident of the house has been groomed in discipline and organization. The guess is right. The resident of the house, Vittala Nayak has been a man of discipline as he had served in the Signal Corps of the Indian army for twenty eight years. Besides, as the first batch student of the newly established St. Lawrence High School, Moodubelle in 1959, Vittala Nayak had learnt discipline and a spirit of hard work from the Head Master-Deju Uchil and other teachers whom he greatly admires.

Born on 2nd June 1942 at Edmeru, Vittala was the fifth among 7 children, six sons and one daughter of late Ramappa Nayak and late Satyamma. His early education up to 5th standard was in the Shri Mahabhaleshwara Primary School, Edmeru where Louis D’Sa was his favourite class teacher. He continued his higher elementary education from 6th to 8th standard at the Church Aided Higher Elementary School, Moodubelle.

As there was no provision for the high school education nearby, Vittala gave up his studies and began to help his father in agricultural activities for two years. Though he was keen to pursue further studies, his parents were apprehensive to send him to Shirva as he had to cross the river which they considered dangerous especially during the rainy season.

Meanwhile, due to the efforts of Fr. Abundius D’Souza and the residents of Moodubelle, the St. Lawrence High School was founded in the year 1959. Realizing the potential for studies and the interest that Vittala had in pursuing his education, Louis Master, who had been his class teacher in the Edmeru school persuaded his father to send him to the newly established St. Lawrence High School at Moodubelle. Thus, after a gap of two years, Vittala once again made his way to the portals of education.

According to Vittala, the first batch of the students in the high school was a friendly group, though the boys were usually shy to talk to the girls who were quite few in the class. Among his close friends in the high school, Vittala remembers the names of Victor Castelino, Ligory Lobo and Alex D’Almeida.


While in the high school, Vittala had an opportunity to develop and manifest many talents and interests.  He was a very good Kabaddi player and was the captain of the high school Kabaddi team. He says that it was due to the inspiration and efforts of T.V. Moraes, who was the teacher for a year or so that the high school Kabaddi team was raised. For practice, the high school Kabaddi team used to play with the team comprising of the higher primary teachers and local youth including Sadananda Master, Benny Master and Victor Rebello (Itthu Master). Vittala even remembers the Kabaddi match that his team had played with the Malpe High School team. When asked about the result of the match, Vittala laughed and said that the Malpe team was much superior as the Malpe High School had the long tradition of sports and St. Lawrence High School was just in its infancy.

Vittala Nayak had his moment of glory when he was elected by the high school students as the School Pupil Leader (SPL) while he was in the final year of the high school. He won the contest by defeating his only rival, Aswathama Shetty of Ninjoor. As he was a good sportsman, while in the 11th standard, Vittala was declared as the Champion Sportsman following the Annual Sports Day in that year.

Recalling his high school years, Vittala said that he greatly admired Head Master-Deju Uchil and all his teachers. Deju Uchil was a strict disciplinarian and the sense of discipline that he had instilled in the students helped them to achieve greater things in their career and life. He remembers his teachers- Sundararam Nayak, Mukunda Puranik, T.V. Moraes, Hezel Rego and Edward D’Sa who not only taught their subjects with great enthusiasm and interest, but were also friendly and supportive of the students. Vittala said that once a week Head Master-Deju Uchil would take their class in moral science which was very useful and thought provoking. The simple living and high thinking of the teachers greatly inspired Vittala. Following the SSLC examination in 1962, while Denis Castelino was the top scorer among the first batch students of St. Lawrence High School, Vittala was second in the high school merit list.

After successfully completing SSLC, Vittala once again remained at home for another two years helping his father in agriculture and other activities without knowing what to do next. Meanwhile, as luck would have it, his high school friend, Ligory Lobo informed Vittala about the army recruitment drive that was to be held at Udupi. Both Vittala and Ligory proceeded to Udupi on the scheduled day of recruitment and underwent the usual service selection process such as written, physical and medical tests and both were selected to undergo training in the armed forces. Based on his SSLC marks, Vittala was selected to undergo training as the Signal Corps Operator.

After his selection, fearing that his parents would not allow him to join the army, Vittala proceeded from Udupi to Mangalore without even informing to his parents and from there to Margoa in Goa for basic military training from 22nd February 1963 for a period of six months. Later he went to Ponda, also in Goa for technical training for one and a half years.

Following the basic and technical training in the Signal Corps, Vittala was posted at Lucknow in UP as Operator Wireless and Line (OWL). Later, Vittala changed the trade as Cryptographer or Cipher Operator at Military College Tele Engineering at Mhow in MP. His next posting was in the Divisional Signal Regiment at Ahmadabad. Vittala was sent twice on deputation to Bhutan on General Roads Engineering Force (GREF) under Border Road Development Board (BRDB). The other postings of Vittala included Sagar in MP, Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir and Ferozepur in Punjab.

Vittala had first experience of war when he was posted as wireless operator at Gadra, a border area during the Indo-Pak war of 1965. During the 1971 War, he was deputed on General Roads Engineering Force (GREF) for communication cover up. During the Operation Blue Star at Amritsar in June 1984, Vittala was one of the Signal Operators who provided communication support to the troops.

In the initial period of his service in the army, whenever Vittala came home during vacation, Head Master-Deju Uchil would invite Vittala in army uniform to the high school to speak to the students and narrate his experiences and thus instil patriotic spirit in the hearts and minds of the young students.

Vittala married to Vinoda from Punar near Belman in 1975. They have three children. The eldest daughter-Vijayalakshmi studied and later married in Mumbai and is presently settled down in New Zealand with her husband. Vittala’s two sons-Sunil and Anil, like him were the students of St. Lawrence High School. Sunil completed B.Com degree from the Poorna Prajna College Udupi and is presently doing the final phase of CA examination. Anil did Bachelor of Business Management (BBM) in the Upendra Pai Memorial College, Udupi and completed the MBA course in Finance at the Manipal Institute of Technology. Both Sunil and Anil are presently working in Mumbai.

After a pretty long period of service of 28 years in the Indian Army, Vittala Nayak retired in 1991 with the rank of Honorary Subedar Major.  Thereafter, he built a beautiful house and named it ‘Anugraha’ near Naal Beeddhi. From 1992 to 2002, Vittala worked as Security officer at the Tata Special Steel Limited in Bhoisar in the Thane District of Maharashtra. Since 2002 Vittala Nayak has been staying in his dream house at Naal Beedhi with his wife and brother-in-law.

Vittala Nayak is a contented happy person. He feels that education has made all the difference not only in his life but in the lives of his children as well. The establishment of the St. Lawrence High School in Moodubelle fifty years ago and the persuasion of Louis Master to join the high school gave a new direction to his life. He feels that the last fifty years since the foundation of the high school have passed quickly and a lot of development has taken place all around. However, he is pained to see the involvement of the young students in political activities rather than concentrating on their studies. He feels that the moral teaching is very important to the students so that they can shape into responsible citizens of this great country.


Comments on this Article
Priya Nayak, Udupi/Mumbai Wed, December-21-2011, 11:20
Its an honour to be a relative(sister s father-in-law)of this great personality...May there be many such more laurels in his life and his family always... :)
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