Thiruvananthapuram: When 71-year-old Dr. George R Thomas, a Keralite expatriate who teaches mathematics in the US and China, gears up on November 7 to embark on a gruelling age-defying half marathon daily for a month, he will be doing it to exhort the Malayali Diaspora to donate liberally for rebuilding the flood-battered Kerala.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will flag off the solo run on Wednesday (November 7) at 8.30 am at his official residence, Cliff House, in the state capital and it will end at the Kerala-Karnataka border on December 6.
“I can be taken out of Kerala but Kerala cannot be taken out of me. The objective behind my solo run across the length of the state is to remind the expatriates who have not yet contributed to the rebuilding of Kerala after the devastating flood. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder in these difficult times,” said the mathematician, who is well-known for over a quarter century in USA as a mentor of young students showing high promise in mathematics.
Dr. Thomas is also donating 20 cents of prime land at Kadampanad for a library, anganvadi, children’s play area and car parking in a village in addition to the huge expenses incurred for organizing this initiative.
During his trans-state half marathon (21.0975 km) being organized for the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF), the septuagenarian professional mathematician will also take classes for students in various schools and colleges, in a Socratic tradition, as part of the effort to lift the level of mathematics in Kerala.
Lauding the initiative, Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said it is an extremely noble gesture on the part of the mathematician. “The people of Kerala are known for their kindred spirit whether they are in the country or abroad. The half marathon is inspired by a charitable objective. I do hope that it will strike a right chord among the Malayali expatriates to join the massive efforts of the state government to rebuild Kerala,” he noted.
Kerala Adventure Tourism Promotion Society (KATPS), under the aegis of Department of Tourism, is associating with the event to give it wide publicity. Mahindra and Mahindra Limited (M&M) is also partnering this program.
Tourism Secretary Rani George said the half marathon is part of the government initiative to raise funds for putting the state back on track after it suffered the worst floods in this century. “The initiative of the well-known mathematician is worthy of emulation,” she added.
P Bala Kiran, Director, Department of Tourism, said the purpose of Dr Thomas’ run is to help affirm the solidarity of Keralite NRIs for repairing the colossal damages caused by the August floods. “Such an inspiring gesture will encourage and engage the attention of the Keralite expatriates to send donations to the CMDRF,” he added.
Earlier in 2008, Dr. Thomas had run from Kanyakumari to Sree Mookambika temple at Kollur in Udupi district of Karnataka, thus becoming the first to run the length of Kerala. That run was organized to create awareness about the pernicious impact of the burning of plastic wastes in debris. “I hope the half marathon will boost the donation tally over the 30 days of the run. We should not allow our memory of the disaster becoming distant,” he said. Donations may be made directly by donors here.