Kulandaiswamy, V C

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V. C. Kulandaiswamy

Kulandaiswamy, Vangalampalayam Chellappagounder was born on 14 July 1929 (Vangalampalayam, Karur, Tamil Nadu, India) and passed away on 10 December 2016 (Besant Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India) after a short illness.


B.E., Andhra University, 1951

M. Tech., Indian Institute of Technology, 1956

Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1964.


Dr. V. C. Kulandaiswamy was born in a small village, Vangalampalayam, in the Tamil Nadu state of India. His mother was Mrs. Mariammal Gounder, and his father was Mr. Velayutham Chellappa Gounder. On July 5, 1965, he wed Mrs. Soundravalli Ratnasami. Gita K. Kulandaiswamy is his daughter, and Selvan K. Kulandaiswamy is his son. He finished his schooling at a rural State Board school in his village. He completed his Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering at the Government College of Technology, Coimbatore. In the state of West Bengal, at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, he earned his Master of Technology degree. The prestigious U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) scholarship enabled him to continue on to the University of Illinois, Urbana, where he earned his doctorate in hydrology and water resources. His dissertation was titled, "A basic study of the rainfall excess surface runoff relationship in a basin system." [1]On the basis of an equation created by him, Dr. Kulandaiswamy collaborated with his Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Ven Te Chow, to build the "General Hydrologic System (GHS) Model”. This model, also known as the "Chow-Kulandaiswamy Model," provides a helpful way to define the response characteristics of a watershed. In hydrology, this patented model is well-known. He underwent training in Hydraulics Laboratory Practice in West Germany via the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce Scholarship.


Kulandaiswamy is not only a highly respected hydrologist in India, but also a distinguished educationist, university administrator, and Tamil (Thirukkural) scholar. Dr. Kulandaiswamy started his career as an engineering professor at the College of Engineering, Guindy (now Anna University), Asia's first technical college, established in Chennai, India, in 1794. He served here as an assistant professor, a professor, and eventually the dean of postgraduate studies. He was well-known for his hydrology studies and lectures. He served as a member of the UNESCO Planning Group for the Second Six Year Plan (1981–1986) of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and as an advisor/expert in hydraulics and hydrology for UNESCO from 1979 to 1981. He then got engaged in the administration, planning, and development of education. He was promoted to the post of Tamil Nadu's Director of Technical Education. He was chosen and appointed vice chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University (1978-79), where he built a post-graduate centre in Tirunelveli that subsequently served as the main campus of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University. He served as a UNESCO Advisor in Hydraulics and Hydrology at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka from 1979 to 1981 as a result of his knowledge of water resources. When he returned to India, the Governor of Tamil Nadu asked him to serve as Vice-Chancellor of the prestigious Anna University for three terms totalling nine years. (1981-90). While he served as vice chancellor, Anna University expanded into a Centre of Excellence, the home of several cutting-edge programs, and the biggest technical university in the nation with a student body of 5000. He oversaw the establishment of the Institute of Remote Sensing, the Centre for Biotechnology, the Crystal Growth Centre, the Ramanujan Computing Centre, and the Language Laboratory. West Germany, Britain, and Switzerland were able to provide funding support to the university. He was in charge of creating the solid foundation that allowed the University to grow significantly over the course of many decades, both in the academic and administrative areas. He introduced a number of new undergraduate and graduate degree programmes as well as research programmes in a range of engineering and technological areas. The nation's first of its kind was launched in 1983–84 with the Printing Technology programme. Similar innovations include the Master of Technology programme in Remote Sensing, Biotechnology, and Footwear Science and Engineering, the Bachelor of Technology programme in Rubber Technology, the Bachelor of Engineering programme in Mining Engineering, and the Bachelor of Engineering programme in Computer Science and Engineering. In order to encourage promising recent graduates to enter the teaching field while also encouraging them to seek higher education leading to Master's and Doctoral Degrees, he was also in charge of introducing a new cadre of teaching/research fellowships. During his administration, the Perarignar Anna University of Technology was renamed to Anna University, and the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly approved a modification to the way the Syndicate was formed. At the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi, he assumed the position of Vice Chancellor. (1990-94). It is the responsibility of IGNOU to advance, organize, and set national standards for distance learning. He founded the Education Media Production Centre (EMPC), which serves as the hub of the IGNOU site and the location of the Gyan Vani, Gyan Darshan, and a number of teleconferencing events. In the broad area of civil engineering, he also began degree programmes in water resource engineering and construction management. Again, it was under his Vice Chancellorship that IGNOU received the special honour of Centre of Excellence in Distance Education from the Commonwealth of Learning (CoL), Vancouver, Canada—the only university in the Commonwealth to do so. During his tenure, the IGNOU also created the Staff Training and Research Institute in Distance Education (STRIDE) and the Commonwealth Education Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA). As many as 260 staff quarters were built on the site, and the Indian Journal of Distance Education was launched. The Rajiv Gandhi Fellowship, through which the Commonwealth of Learning (CoL), Vancouver, Canada, helped IGNOU expand its programme on "Distance Education" to 19 emerging nations. Additionally implemented at the time were a Teleconferencing facility via Satellite and a Distance Education Council (DEC). When the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) declared a significant agitation against raising the height of the dam, he was a member of the five-member committee established by the Ministry of Water Resources (1994) to investigate the environment and rehabilitation issues of the Narmada Project. In honour of his outstanding contributions to distance learning and open learning in India and the Commonwealth nations, the Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada, named him an "Honorary Fellow of the Commonwealth of Learning" during its Decennium Celebration and "Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning" (1–5 March 1999) in Brunei. He offered technical and legal arguments to the government in support of the decision when controversy arose after the State government's decision to conduct entrance exams for professional courses in the early 1980s. In addition to 50 works in the fields of education, science, and technology, he has written over 60 study reports and papers in the field of hydrology.

The family estate of more than 60 acres that belonged to Dr. Kulandaiswamy and his sibling V.C. Palaniswamy was donated to the cause of education. Since more than 15 years ago, a foundation with Dr. Kulandaiswamy's name has been operating. After a short illness, Dr. Kulandaiswamy passed away at his home on the morning of December 10, 2016, at the age of 87. He is survived by his wife, son, and daughter.

Literary Works in Tamil

He worked to reform the Tamil script to make learning Tamil easier. An English translation of his compendium on Thirukkural, titled, "The Immortal Kural"[2], presents the gist of his interest in Thirukkural. Dr. V. C. Kulandaiswamy was a famous Tamil author who wrote under the pen name "Kulothhungan" in addition to being a scientist, technocrat, educationist, and educational administrator. The foreword by Prof. U.R. Anantha Murthy in Dr. Kulandaiswamy's translation of his own chosen Tamil poems to English, "Earth is Paradise Enough," states that the poet's writing "persuades, but it doesn't declaim." Although contemplative, it is not frivolous. Its linguistic framework is composed of perfect statements rather than being enigmatically suggestive. He had a strong desire to make Tamil a platform for contemporary information. To make learning Tamil simpler, he waged a tenacious crusade in favour of Tamil script reform. The government established a Committee on Script Reform in 1996 under his chairmanship after realizing the potential of the script reform movement. He has published several versions of his books on "Script Reform" and "Tamil for Science and Technology." He founded the Kalangiam "Treasure" quarterly magazine to advance Tamil writing in contemporary fields of study. He authored numerous volumes of poetry, prose essays in Tamil and English, and numerous journal papers. He was the Chairman of the "Tamil Academy," which published a set of twelve volumes on medical encyclopedias as well as seven volumes on Siddha medicine. The Academy also produced a seven-volume collection on science and technology in Tamil. Later in life, he became involved in the development of classical Tamil, and in June 2010 he helped to organize the World Classical Tamil Conference in Coimbatore. Tamil translations of English textbooks in engineering and medicine were organized by Dr. Kulandaiswamy.

Hydrological Accomplishments

Based on an equation suggested by Dr. Kulandaiswamy in 1971, Drs. Kulandaiswamy and Chow created the "General Hydrologic System (GHS) Model", a lumped, deterministic, nonlinear mathematical model for the simulation of hydrologic systems. This model, also known as the Chow-Kulandaiswamy GHS model, was extensively applied.

Dr. Kulandaiswamy has various awards and achievements to his name. Some of these are listed below:


1. Leverhulme Fellowship, University of Western Australia, Perth (1975)

2. D. Litt (Honoris Causa) University of Jaffna, Jaffna, Sri Lanka (1980)

3. Honorary Fellow of the Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada (1999)

4. Honorary Citizenship of Oak Ridge City, Corporation of Oak Ridge City, Tennessee, U.S.A. (2008)

5. Excellence Award for 2008, Tamil Nadu Foundation, U.S.A. (2008)


1. Padma Shri, President of India, Govt of India (1992)

2. Padma Bhushan, President of India, Govt. of India (2002)

3. Distinguished Alumnus Award, I.I.T. Kharagpur, [Instituted after its Golden Jubilee and awarded for two of its Alumni] (2003)

4. Scroll of Honour: Eminent Engineering Personalities of India, Institution of Engineers (India). Indian Engineering Congress, Pune (1992)

5. Pranavananda Award for the year 1990, Citation and Cash Award University Grants Commission, New Delhi (1994)

6. D.Sc., (Honoris Causa) Alagappa University, Tamil Nadu (1997)

7. D. Litt (Honoris Causa) Pondicherry University, Pondicherry (1997)

8. Ph.D. (Honoris Causa) Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (1999)

9. D. Litt (Honoris Causa), Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi (2000)

10. D.Litt (Honoris Causa), Karnataka State Open University, Mysore (2002)

11. D.Litt (Honoris Causa), Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad (2002)

12. Ministry of Irrigation, Gold Medal: Institution of Engineers, India (1973)

13. C.B.I.P. Diamond Jubilee Gold Medal and Cash Award, Central Board of Irrigation and Power, New Delhi (1991)

14. NGRI-AHI Indian National Hydrology Lecture First Award (2012)

Literary Achievements

Apart from these, he has several awards to his name for his contributions to Tamil literature in various ways. He has also served as the President, Vice President, Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, and Member of various international and national organizations. He was awarded the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan titles in 1992 and 2002, respectively, for his contributions to the fields of research, education, and engineering. At the national and foreign levels, he has served as a member or chairman of numerous academic organizations, working groups, and expert committees in the fields of hydrology, general education, technical education, and distance learning. He served on the Executive Committee of the University Grants Commission (UGC) for two years. All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Member Joint Council for Vocational Education; Vice-President of the International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) for Asia; President of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU); for a brief time, President of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), London; and for two terms, President of the Indian Society for Technical Education, New Delhi. He was a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, the Indian Academy of Sciences, the Institution of Engineers (India), and the Computer Society of India. Among the 35000+ Alumni, he was one of two selected by the IIT Kharagpur Senate for the "distinguished alumnus award," established and given in its 49th Convocation in 2003. He was given the Sahitya Akademi Award, a national honour, for the year 1988 for his novel, Vazhum Valluvam (The Immortal Kural). For his contribution to Tamil writing in 1998, the Government of Tamil Nadu gave him the prestigious Thiruvalluvar Award. He served as Chairman of the Tamil Academy in Chennai, Vice Chairman of the International Association for Tamil Research (IATR) with registered headquarters in Paris, Vice Chairman of the International Institute of Tamil Studies (IITS) in Chennai, Chairman of the Tamil Language Promotion Board for the Ministry of Human Resource Development of India, and Chairman (Honorary) of the Tamil Virtual University with headquarters in Chennai. He received a D.Litt (Honoris Causa) from Jaffna University in Sri Lanka in 1980 in honour of his services to Tamil literature.


Dr. Kulandaiswamy contributed significantly to the Tamil literary scene. He was popularly known as VCK. One of the most popular stories about VCK involves an incident that occurred during his college days. VCK was a brilliant student who excelled in his studies. One day, he was called to the principal's office and was asked to give a speech in front of the entire college. VCK, who was known for his exceptional oratory skills, accepted the challenge. On the day of the speech, VCK arrived on stage and began speaking. He spoke for hours, mesmerizing the audience with his words. As the day turned into night, the audience grew restless and started to leave the hall one by one, but VCK continued to speak, completely unaware of the passage of time. Finally, when he finished, he looked around and saw that the hall was empty, except for the principal who was still sitting there, listening to him. The principal was so impressed with VCK's speech that he offered him a scholarship to study further. This incident is often cited as an example of VCK's dedication and passion for his work. He never lost his love for Tamil literature and continued to inspire others with his writing and speeches until the very end of his life.

Dr. Kulandaiswamy was known for his dedication to education, and he worked tirelessly to improve the quality of education in his community. One day, he received a request from a small village school that was struggling to find a teacher for their students. The school was in a remote location, and most teachers were not interested in working there due to the difficult conditions. Dr. Kulandaiswamy decided to visit the school to see if he could help. When he arrived, he found that the school was indeed in a poor state. The classrooms were small and overcrowded, and there were no resources or materials for the students to use. Despite this, Dr. Kulandaiswamy saw potential in the students and was determined to help. He asked the villagers for their support, and together they began to work on improving the school. They built new classrooms, provided resources and materials for the students, and even arranged for a teacher to come and teach at the school. Dr. Kulandaiswamy's efforts paid off, and the school began to thrive. The students were eager to learn, and their academic performance improved significantly. In recognition of his work, Dr. Kulandaiswamy was awarded the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards in India. Dr. Kulandaiswamy's dedication to education and his willingness to go above and beyond to help those in need have left a lasting impact on his community. He is remembered as a true champion of education and a source of inspiration for all those who seek to make a positive difference in the world.

Reference Material

The website of Dr. Kulandaiswamy gives an insight into many facets of his life as an educationist, hydrologist, educational reformer, administrator, philosopher, orator, author, and poet. It also has many of his pictures and text of the legendary speeches he has made on several occasions. http://kulandaiswamy.com/

Selected Publications

1. Chow, Ven Te, and V. C. Kulandaiswamy. “General Hydrologic System Model.” Journal of the Hydraulics Division 97, no. 6 (June 1, 1971): 791–804. https://doi.org/10.1061/JYCEAJ.0002994.

2. Chow VT, Kulandaiswamy VC. “The IUH of General Hydrologic System Model.” Journal of the Hydraulics Division 108, no. 7 (July 1, 1982): 830–44. https://doi.org/10.1061/JYCEAJ.0005884.

3. Kulandaiswamy, V. C. “A Note on Muskingum Method of Flood Routing.” Journal of Hydrology 4 (January 1, 1966): 273–76. https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-1694(66)90085-0.

4. Kulandaiswamy, V. C., M. Krishnaswami, and T. N. Ramalingam. “Flood Routing through Channels.” Journal of Hydrology 5 (January 1, 1967): 279–85. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-1694(67)80107-0.

5. Kulandaiswamy, V. C., and S. Seetharaman. “A Note on Barnes’ Method of Hydrograph Separation.” Journal of Hydrology 9, no. 2 (October 1, 1969): 222–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-1694(69)90080-8.

6. G. Padmanabhan, M. Narayanan, R. Sakthivadivel and V.C. Kulandaiswamy, A review of deterministic mathematical models for rainfall-runoff relationship, Proc. of Diamond Jubilee Symposium of Central Water and Power Research Station, Poona, India, 1976, pp. B7-1 through B7-11.

7. V.C. Kulandaiswamy R. Sakthivadivel and G. Padmanabhan, Status of Hydrologic Education in India, Proc. of International Water Resources Association Symposium, "Water for Human Needs",December 1975, Pub. by IWRS, New Delhi, India.

8. V.C.Kulandaiswamy, R. Sakthivadivel, G. Padmanabhan, and S.Seetharaman, Prediction of Cavitation Inception in Hydraulic Machines, Sixth Symposium of International Association of Hydraulic Research (IAHR), Sept. 1972, Rome, Italy, pp. J5-1-18.

9. Kulandaiswamy VC. A basic study of the rainfall excess-surface runoff relationship in a basin system. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; 1964 (Ph.D. Thesis).

10. Kulandaiswamy VC, Rao TB. Digital simulation of a drainage basin. Mathematical Models in Hydrology. 1974;2.

11. Kulandaiswamy VC, Babu Rao T, Painter R. An analytical approach to the determination of infiltration rate. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. 1970 Jul;46(3):395-6. https://doi.org/10.1680/iicep.1969.7279