January-February 2004 issue
Vivekananda at Kshir Bhawani, Kashmir
National Schools of Kashmir
An Institution with a Mission - 3
... J.N. Kachroo
1 | Part 2
Change of Guard:
ate D.N.Raina had a short tenure of just over a year as the Principal. The time was well utilized as a transition. I stepped into his shoes in 1970. Shri J.N.Patwari, my colleague for nearly three decades was promoted as headmaster. These changes ensured continuity of the spirit of the school motto and traditions. Late L.K.Rambal, Principal, College of Education and Prof. Dr. Susheela Bhan were coopted as members of the Managing Committee.
From day one, the challenging goal of modernising the school was relentlessly pursued with predetermined priorities.
Staff: Without violating the spirit of Grant-in-Aid Rules, an attractive salary structure including a provision for pension in addition to usual retirement benefits, provision for sponsorship for in-service training, and induction of female teachers ensured recruitment of young talented staff. Shri Bashir Ahmed, who was on deputation from the government joined the school service on permanent basis after resigning his government job. The practice of hiring on contract retired teachers was restricted to exceptional cases in the interest of maintaining standards in certain disciplines. (Ref: Appendix Pt.1)
1969-70 was mostly spent in planning, selecting staff, improving infrastructure starting from the bottom and the top at the same time, preparing a well equipped Kindergarten class, and imparting intensive teaching in 9th and 10th class. Teaching of English was reinforced as a prelude to changing the medium of instructions to English in a phased manner. This was achieved in three years. The result justified the efforts. details are of academic interest. (Ref: Appendix Pt.2)
Co-curricular Activities: Believing in imparting education beyond the text books for an allround development, a blend of sports and literary programmes constituted a workable
In spite of certain infrastructural shortcomings, games, sports summer camps, hikes, sports, especially races became regular features. Besides participating in inter-school events, the school had the distinction of representing the state at many national levels. (Ref: Appendix Pt.3)
Annual symposiums, debates, elocution contests, quiz and essay writing competitions, cultural meets, musical programmes and mock Parliaments formed an integral part of the 'School Action Plans'. Invariably the subjects or themes of each of these activities were topical intended to educate the students and increase the awareness of the parents, who formed the bulk of the audience at the presentation occasions. These public functions were chaired by VIPs, intellectuals, academicians adding credibility to the efforts. (Ref: Appendix Pt.4)
Enrolment: Close rapport with parents, completion of 'Annual Action Plans', vibrant activities of students and good results at the matriculation exams, revived the popularity of the school. It became co-educational. Roll of the school rose to over 1700 in 1982 against less than 800 in 1969. It catered to the less previleged and weaker sections in particular.
Finances: With increase in roll and certain amendments in Grant-in-Aid Rules, the situation was eased. But certain illogical provisions hampered growth. A struggle to get the rules modified gave birth to 'Kashmir Aided Schools Association', with late D.N.Nadim as President and J.L.Taimiri as V.President. I was elected its Secretary. The Association met with little success till late S.M.Abdullah came to power in 1975.
S.M.Abdullah's Patronage: A two hour impromptu meeting with late Shaikh Sahib in January 1974 at Delhi proved very propitious for the aided educational institutions in general and National School in particular. J.N.Patwari, V.P.Gurtoo and late J.L.Dhar were with me. Soon after he assumed power in 1975, an 'Advisory Committee on Aided Education' with four non-official members headed by the Finance Minister D.D.Thakur was constituted. Late S.K.kaul and I were nominated as members. The other two never attended any meetings. This Committee got the rules rationalised. It proved a saviour of small schools and defendant of honest ones.
National School used to hold a symposium on the life and works (or related topics of late J.L.Nehru on 27 May every year. Sheikh Sahib condescended to preside over this function on 27 May 1974. Starting from that day, he regularly graced one or the other function every year. On his advice, National School would hold its Annual Day on 2nd October to synchronise it with Gandhi Jayanti. He presided over it almost regularly.
A Catastrophe: In late 1970's, the school building was crying for repairs. But the landlords were trying to rope in a powerful party to convert it into a commercial complex. The school could not be ousted without government support. The C.M., late Sheikh Sahib did not favour the idea. Instead he advised the School for a settlement, assuring government aid.
Negotiations, swinging between outright purchase and effecting repairs with revision of rent, belied any conclusion for over two years. Hardly a month after the passing away of Sheikh Sahib, the school building was destroyed in a fire in the wee hours of 7th October 1982. The C.M., Dr. Farooq Abdullah visited the site within hours and assured help for rehabilitation.
Before noon of the same day, the school management was served an injunction forbidding change of status-quo. A legal fight ensured which reached the apex court more than once.
The police investigating agency picked some important persons for questioning. However, the scene changed fast. The investigating agency instead of solving the mystery of fire, kept the school staff on tenterhooks. The C.M's enthusiasm to help the school waned. The school was advised to shift to the outskirts of the city. The stalemate continued for nearly four years. The story is painful, but illustrative of how public interests can be got trampled.
The school continued to function in shifts. The classes were held in ramshakled rooms in the ground floor of the burnt building, in tents and a make-shift barrack made on a 16 feet wide road leased by the Muncipality a few years earlier.
Resurrection: The impasse was broken by the G.M.Shah government which acquired the property under Land Acquisition Act and transferred it to the school on payment of 50 % compensation. The other 50 % was paid by the government as Grant-in-Aid. This was also challenged in the Hon'ble Supreme Court which did not agree to any plea to oust the school from a building specially designed and built for the school. Also the court upheld the validity of the acquisition. However, the plantiff's lawyer withdrew the case before the Hon'ble Court could record a judgement. The building was finally handed over to the school on 15th May 1986. The building was rebuilt and roofed by October 1986. It seems that the school has yet to claim building grant under rules.
National School, Srinagar - Recollections 1969-1986
1. Staff 1980: With one M.A.B.Ed. at the top, the School had 25% trained post graduates;
2. 50% trained graduates and 25% other special line teachers.
3. Results after 10 years of change: Pass percentage in 1980 was 95, in 1981, it was 88 and in
4. 1982, it was 92. 40% of the successful candidates were placed in Ist Division. The School figured in the State Merit List (first 20 ranks) every year, capturing 30 places or 10.7% of places from 1969-1981. Figures of 1982-86 not available. In 1973 (Nov), the School captured Ist (Pankaj Koul), IIIrd (Ravinder Wattal) and XIVth (Surrinder Bhat) positions.
3. a) The School represented the State at national level 3 times at R.C., two times at Camps organised by the Central agencies at Delhi.
b) Presented Iqbal Night, Lalded Night, Kashmiri Folk Music at Tagore Hall.
4. The following graced the School during the period:
Swami Ranganathananda (R.K.Mission), L.K.Jha (Governor), Mekhala Jha, Syed Mir Qasim, Sheikh Abdullah, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Mirza Afzal Beg, Begum Abdullah, D.D.Thakur, M.K.Tiku, P.L.Handoo, Mohd. Shafi, Prof. Rais Ahmed (VC, Kashmir University), Dr. Agha Ashraf, M.S.Pandit, S.L.Pandita, Prof. A.A.Suroor.
M.C. during the crisis: J.N.Bhan, S.K.Kaul, G.A.Burza, M.K.KIlam, Prof. J.K.Pandita, Dr. K.N.Pandita, J.N.Patwari, Qazi A.Rashid, Bashir Ahmed and J.N.Kachroo.
5. They brought honour to themselves and to the School:
a) [Pre-1969 .. in continuation] S.N.Kaul, M.L.Seeru (C.Es), Prof. Dr. A.K.Raina (DU),
b) Prof. Dr. M.K.Teng, Dr. M.L.Peshin, Dr. C.L.Peshin, Dr. R.L.Kaul, Dr. Mohd. Yousuf,
Prof. P.N.Kak (Physics), Prof. M.L.Raina (English), G.L.Sumbly.
Makhan Lal Dhar - A businessman, now the President of the School.
Business: Mohd. Yousuf Beigh, Mohd. Amin, Gh. Hassan Beigh, A.K.Kaul, Nazir Ahmed.
c) Post 1969: Ashok Sultan (BE IIT, C-T ITI) Chittranjan Kaul (BE, MBA IIM), Kuldeep
d) Peshin (CPWD), Dr. Anil Karihalloo (Scientist USA), Anil Zutshi (Eng - USA),
Dr. Pankaj Kaul (UK), Dr. Ravinder Wattal (Mumbai), Rajeev Khashu (Siemens), Sanjeev Khashu (Eng - USA) Dr. Pradeep Mattoo.
(Most of the above under 5 contacted)
School in Financial Distress!
Can such a distinguished institution which has rendered meritorious service, Starve, much less
Its assets: Thousands of its students across the globe.
Contact: J.N.Kachroo, 4-B/202, Whispering Palms, Lokhandwala, Kandivli (E), Mumbai 400101.
Tel: 28865853. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org