A good education can change anyone, and a good teacher can change everything.
Kolkata-based retired professor and former Sanskrit reader, Chitralekha Mallik is the essence of a great teacher.
Apart from being known for her exemplary knowledge of Sanskrit, her selfless acts have gained her immense respect and gratitude from prominent educators and students across the city of joy. In the last 17-odd years, the 72-year-old has donated Rs 1 crore to various educational institutions!
Explaining the intention behind her noble and grand gesture, she tells The Better India:
“I was in the teaching profession for over four decades, and it is a long enough time to see the harsh side of teaching. Educational institutions are always yearning for money to improve the existing facilities. It is sad how talented children are deprived of proper platforms only because they cannot afford it. So, I decided to save most of my savings and channelise it towards scholarships and other research-related purposes.”
In 43 years, she has taught at various Kolkata institutions like Mathabhanga College, and Cooch Behar (1974), followed by College Service Commission (1984), Deshabandhu Girls’ College (1997) and lastly, Victoria Institution.
A Life Of Simplicity & Saving Every Penny
Raised in Birlapur, a small town on the outskirts of Kolkata, Mallik grew up in a humble family with two sisters. Her father was a school teacher who believed in the philosophy of giving to the underprivileged, be it knowledge, money or materials.
Growing up with an emphasis on education and simplicity sans material comforts, Mallik knew how she wanted to live her life. She dedicated herself to her passion for teaching and did not marry.
Despite receiving a hefty pension of Rs 50,000 per month, her 350 square feet house has bare necessities. She always commutes by bus and refuses to hire domestic help to save every penny for the betterment of education.
Luxuries have no place in Mallik’s life, and when it comes to necessities like clothing, she takes them from her relatives or indulges in shopping once in a blue moon.
Donations With An Impact
Her first contribution of Rs 50,000 was for the infrastructural development of Victoria Institution. She adds, “They did not have a proper medical unit inside the campus, and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) was to visit for assessment. They needed to set up a unit to score decent marks.”
Her major contribution came in 2013 post her retirement. Indian Research Institute for Integrated Medicine in Howrah received Rs 31 lakh from Mallik in the name of her parents, Radha Ballav Mallik and Shailasudha Mallik.
In 2018, she made the biggest donation of her life, Rs 56 lakh, to Jadavpur University (JU) in the memory of her teacher Pandit Bidhubhusan Bhattacharya.
Confirming the news to Hindustan Times, a senior official from JU had said, “She (Mallik) is in constant touch with us. She came to the university after puja vacation this year and wanted to know how the fund was being managed.”
The amount was divided between research scholarship for a professor and a student. While the student scholarship has been allotted for a deserving student, the research one yet is to be released.
Mallik could have retired and saved all her salary and pensions for her expenses. But she refused to part ways with education and chose to devote herself to this cause. As they say, once a teacher, always a teacher!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)