Prof. Raghavan Sunoj from IIT Bombay did the Institute proud when he received the National Award to Teachers 2023 for Higher Education by the Hon’ble President of India at a ceremony held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, on Teachers’ Day 2023. He received a silver medal and Rs. 50,000 cash for the same.
In an interview with the Times of India, one of Prof. Sunoj’s former students, IITB alumnus, Yash Sanghvi, said, “Prof. Sunoj was one of the professors taking our first-year chemistry introduction course (CH105). I distinctly remember the commotion in the hostel the night before our CH105 midsem. Turned out that Professor Sunoj had dropped by to clear the anxious freshers’ doubts before the exam. That gesture is one of the many that leave no surprise that he got selected for this award.”
The above epitomises Prof. Sunoj’s commitment to his students which goes well beyond the classroom. While he has little to no presence on social media he makes himself available to all his students at all times. He goes by the nickname ‘Night Professor’ and is someone who does not wait for his students to come to him to clarify their doubts. Instead, he shows up at their hostels and their mess and clarifies any of their queries they may have, especially before an exam.
Prof. Sunoj self-confessedly treats his students as his co-learners and encourages debates and discussions among them. He challenges them by setting them questions in their exams that are at a much higher level than what his courses demand but he is extremely gratified at how well his students mull over the hard questions and eventually come up with the right answers.
Prof. Sunoj is also well known for his significant contributions to the outreach program of the Institute. This initiative extends its reach to non-IIT students and educators, offering them valuable insight into the teaching and learning methodologies at IIT Bombay. Here, the focus lies on fostering concept-based learning through a problem-solving approach and is one that diverges from the conventional rote-learning practices.
It’s no wonder then that the 2019 recipient of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology has been awarded the National Award to Teachers 2023 for Higher Education. Add to this extraordinary achievement is the fact that exactly 23 years back, Prof. Sunoj’s mother, Mrs. K. Vasantha Kumari, was bestowed the same award.
Like mother, like son!
“I am humbled to have been chosen for this award. It has been an amazing experience teaching some of the brightest students over the last two decades, through various modes of interaction, helping them learn concepts, solve problems, and to enjoy the fun of learning chemistry,” Prof. Sunoj said after hearing about this prestigious honour.
IIT Bombay is delighted at Prof. Sunoj’s extraordinary accomplishment. His ‘Night Professor’ persona, selfless availability, and passion for fostering deep learning environments have not only enriched the lives of several students but have also left an indelible mark on the Institute as well. IIT Bombay extends its heartfelt congratulations to Prof. Sunoj and is profoundly grateful for his exceptional service and the enduring legacy he carries forward, which is reminiscent of his mother’s extraordinary achievements.
Thank you, Prof. Sunoj, for illuminating the path of knowledge and inspiring generations to come.