Dr K.V. Sreedharan was born in Crangnore (Kannanur) North Malabar District of the Madras province – as it was known before Independence. His father was a high-school teacher, popularly known as “Pai Master”. After his high-school education Sreedharan studied at Madras and obtained an M.A degree in economics with first class. Several years later he also got the M.Litt degree of Madras University. Dr Sreedharan passed out of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 1953, with the Diploma in Social Service Administration, specializing in Labour Welfare and Personnel Management. He joined as lecturer at the newly started Madras school of Social Work and for a brief period was its acting Director. He got ful bright Fellowship to do PhD in Social Work at the Cleveland University, Ohio, U.S.A and obtained his PhD degree in 1960. He searched for a suitable senior position in schools of social work. Not succeeding in this, he joined the United States Educational Foundation in India, as a co-ordinator of Cleveland International Youth Leadership Programme. While in Delhi, in 1963 he became the first editor of Social Work Forum, the quarterly journal of Indian Association of Trained Social Workers. He held that position for about four years, until he left for Bangalore to become the Director, National Institute of Social Sciences (Refer, Feb.2011. Social Work Foot Prints). Later he was Director, Nehru Yuwak Kendra in New Delhi for two years. He was also the Editor of Social Work Educator, quarterly journal of the Association of Schools of Social Work in India, for about two years.
His life partner, Dr.Uma Shankar, a medical graduate of St.Johns Medical College, Bangalore, had worked for about two years at the Cancer Hospital in Madras and later at a Charitable Dispensary at Sheshadripuram, Bangalore. She was disillusioned with the medical profession with what she saw from inside and chose not to practice medicine. She devised health education kit with visual aids and conducted health education programmes for NGO`s working in rural and tribal areas.
K.V.Shreedharan had done a brief U.N. assignment at New York and was a Visiting Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences for a term. Dr Sreedharan was honoured as a distinguished citizen of Bangalore by the Rotary Club of Bangalore and as distinguished alumnus by the Ohio University U.S.A.
Dr Sreedharan was the first Indian to obtain a PhD degree in social work from U.S.A. He had an impressive academic background, was very intelligent and had a good command of English. Yet he could not get or hold a job for long in the field of social work education. He could have contributed by writing but he did not. Partly circumstances and partly his own nature, combined to deprive him of what he deserved professionally. It is a tragedy.
Rtd. Professor, Delhi School of Social Work, Delhi
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