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P.N. Razdan (Mahanoori)

Gandhi Ji used to say, “In India we have two types of people: those who work and those who get the credit”. Ethnic minority of Kashmiri Pandits, by and large, belong to the first category. Rarely have they received their due recognition for their efforts and contribution to the national cause. May be we are ourselves to be blamed. After all, the old saying is, “Do in Rome as the Romans do”. One has to beat one’s own drum to receive public appreciation as is the culture of Independent India. There are a number of persons from our community who have failed to receive due recognition for their untiring efforts, dedication and devotion they have shown to the development of literature, science and social welfare. One such person, who comes readily to ones mind is Shri P.N. RAZDAN (Mahanoori) an eminent educationist, a prolific writer, an innovative teacher and a great physical enthusiast who had achieved a number of milestones in the field of swimming, boxing, hiking, etc; during his youth.

Sh. P. N. Razdan
P.N. Razdan

Shri Razdan was soft spoken, gentle and modest person. But behind his simple, unassuming personality was hidden a man of great talent, grit and stamina; one who never compromised with his principles inspite of the difficulties and hardships he had to face. Shri Razdan was educated, during his formative years, in C.M.S. Central Biscoe High School at Feteh Kadal, Srinagar, a pioneer institute of modern education in J&K State. After his graduation from the Punjab University, the Mission authorities offered him to take charge as Senior Science Teacher of their high school at Anantnag.

He introduced multipurpose activities in the School Science Union. The alternate monthly meetings of this Union were culminated in yearly annual functions in which the parents, old boys, elites of the locality as well as Mission authorities from Srinagar would participate. His enthusiastic dynamism and progressive ideas that he put to practice made him very popular with the boys, parents and the intelligentsia as well as VIPs.

Shri Razdan, during his tenure of more than three years at Anantang, penned down the manuscripts of three books. M/S Ali Mohd and Sons, Srinagar published two of these- booklets dealing with High School physical science made easy. The third manuscript-a book on the Dogra rulers of the J&K State, however, remained unpublished.

Only after about six months stay at his new place of posting, Central Mission High School, Sheikhbagh, Srinagar, he was deputed to the Teachers Training Collage at the Prince Of Wales Degree Collage (Presently Govt. Gandhi Memorial Science Collage) at Jammu. Soon after completing his professional training and obtaining the B.T. degree he was transferred as Senior Science Teacher of Central Mission High School, Fateh Kadal, where his enthusiasm and dynamic activities fructified into his famous experiment of innovative science teaching. As a highly dedicated teacher he consolidated his experiments by becoming a freelance journalist. He started contributing articles, giving details of his experiments, in the top most education journals of the country from 1940 onwards. His maiden article was published in “TEACHING” one of the two yearly special issues of the top most journals published by Oxford University Press, Nicol Road, Bombay. This brought him substantive remuneration, which was more than his monthly salary at that time.

The series of articles published by the Punjab Education Journal, Lahore (now Pakistan), augmented with the selection of his articles published in other different journals of the time, in the country, brought him honour of publishing his book, entitled,” New Horizons In Education “ with a foreword by the then reputed educationist, diplomat and historian Late Dr. Tara Chand.

Yet another book of his, containing three one act-plays on science topics, to infuse interest on science amongst the aspiring students was published in 1948. T.C.E. journals and publications, Lucknow, published his two one act plays on science study. The third self-published book entitled “Progressive Education” with an introduction by Dr.L. Mukerjee, an internationally known psychologist and the then Chief Editor of “EDUCATION”, Lucknow, was brought out in the year 1962.

It was in recognition of his academic pursuits in the field of education that the reputed Patty Wardhan Christian Society of Poona, dedicated one of their many journals to record the profile of two well known educationists of India namely, Shri Vishveshria of Karnataka and Shri P.N. Razdan (Mahanoori) of J&K.

His professional activities and prolific writing did finally made the State Govt: in 1949, to offer him membership on the panel of eminent educationists constituted to write science text books for Middle Classes. Not only this but subsequently he had the honour of being offered the membership of the Academic Board for high and higher secondary schools of then J&K University which continued as such for the Board Of Secondary Education when it came into existence. This was followed by memberships of;

1. Syllabus committee for high and higher secondary schools,

2. Advisory Board of Govt; Teachers Training Collage, and

3. Committee for the revision of middle school textbooks.

As a member of the Executive Committee of the All J&K Teachers Union his paper “Side lights on Kashmir Govt’s Education Policy” though initially rejected, was ultimately accepted, after public intervention through vernacular newspapers and the co-educational policy was withdrawn from the very next session, to the great relief of the people.

Shri Razdan has also many textbooks to his credit. M/S Ali Mohd. & Sons, Srinagar, published seven of his books, which he wrote for high schools, and these captured the local University markets for over three decades. Three textbooks on biological sciences, for higher secondary schools, two of these with co-authors, published by M/S Kapoor Brothers, Srinagar, continued for several years.

Shri P.N. Razdan also worked as a part time lecturer, teaching Science and Nature Study to the B. Ed. students of the Gandhi Memorial Degree College, Srinagar, for about two decades.


The Author with his wife and grandson Rahul Razdan

After his exodus to Jammu in the year 1990, Shri P.N. Razdan like many others of his community members suffered a lull and spent his time brooding. Innovative person within him, however, resurfaced and he ones again indulged in his academic pursuits. The three books he wrote and completed thereafter have since been published and are entitled “Gems of Kashmiri Literature and Kashmiriat”, “Ticklish Stories” and “Nand Bab (the mystic saint of Kashmir)”. The J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages approved the first two of these books, sanctioning subsidy for publication thereof. His book “Hindi in Kashmir” tracing the history of appearance of Hindi in Kashmir was also considered for the Sahitya Academy Award. Alas, his fourth book entitled “Trio Of Frustrated Love” with reference to Haba Khatun, Arni Mal and Rasool Mir, remained unpublished due to his demise under tragic circumstances in October’ 2003.

Last but not the least, his level of satisfaction as a teacher is described in his own words as follows “Unawares, despite the formidable multiple odds I had to face all through, I still feel proud of having been a teacher. With the multiplicity of co-related hobbies, I could enthuse my taught with interest in their learning process by innovative methods. Unawares, the unknown, unostentatious and imperceptible, subtle honour appears to have been mysteriously bestowed upon me by some divine heavenly powers that be. This has enabled me to play the game of education with dedicated devotion during my teaching career. This has enabled me to feel fully satisfied with my teacher’s role.”

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