The Old Nabhaites Association
The best way to judge a school is from the achievements of the students it turns out. By this yardstick, PPS has much to be proud of. Spread all over the globe today are doctors, engineers, journalists, executives, businessmen, farmers and teachers who are alumni of the school. Above all, a large number of officers from the defence services have emerged from its portals.
EEver since the first batch passed out of the School, the need was felt to have a recognized body that would act as a platform for all the former students to meet and stay in touch with one another and continue to have strong bonding with their alma mater. This practice was in line with similar bodies in place for all the leading public schools of the country and elsewhere. Emotion for the school was succinctly expressed by Vijay Singh (B-113, 1967) who remarked that, “when I left home for school, I was terribly homesick. And when I finally left school for home, I was terribly school sick”.
Mr. J K Kate realised the importance of an Old Boys Association. To give a practical shape to this idea, a meeting was held on 14th March 1965, where the following proposals were accepted and implemented:
- The old boys of PPS would be known as Nabhaites. This was proposed by Pritpal Singh (R-1) and seconded by late Harbir Singh Chahal (J-34).
- The Association would be called the ‘Old Nabhaites Association’ (ONA)
- The Headmaster would be the ex-officio President of the ONA.
- Mr. YP Johri (Mathematics) proposed the name of Mr. OP Bhatnagar (Hindi) for the post of General Secretary (Staff). Mr. Y P Bhardwaj (History) seconded it. Mr. Bhatnagar was selected unanimously.
- Late Vinod Mehta (S-4) was appointed as Secretary of the ONA.
The following were nominated as the Branch Secretaries:
- Patiala Branch: Parminder Singh Nagra (S-1)
- Jalandhar Branch: Harbir Singh Chahal (J-34)
- Chandigarh Branch: Anil Kumar Luthra (S-44)
- Kharakvasla Branch: Madanjit Singh Bedi (S-32)
With this the ONA got off to a flying start. Over time it has evolved into a body with many chapters and a large membership. The passion and zeal of Nabhaites has always ensured that ONA activities are a regular feature in the school calendar year after year.
During the initial years, a few Old Nabhaites would come a day before the Founders’ Day and there would be a football match either Past vs Present or ONA vs Staff. This was generally followed by tea, an evening ONA meeting in the Assembly Hall of Junior School (Malkani Hall) and a dinner on the Junior School lawns with staff members. This pattern continued for many years.
The ONA was initially an informal body and remained so for over a decade. In 1980, Dr. Jashanjot Singh Bhangu (S-52) was posted as Radiologist at the Civil Hospital, Nabha. Feeling the need to reconnect with all his classmates from school he mooted the idea of launching the ONA formally and legally. Gp Capt AJS Grewal, the Headmaster, responded enthusiastically and threw open his office to Old Nabhaites. The first step was to locate Old Nabhaites. The Bursar, Mr GS Punia, helped in locating the registers containing addresses of school boys on which the term bills were sent to their homes. A list was then compiled for communication and contact.
Local Old Nabhaites like Kedarnath (J-4), Pradeep Batta (J-22), Pradeep Gupta (B-315), an old school girl Dr. Gurpreet Grewal (nee Kalyan) (first lady executive member), and a BA student Gurjinder Singh Benepal (S-420) assisted Dr Jashanjot. Mr. K C Tandon, a staff member, was also included in the core team as a Teacher member. They held meetings in the Crafts room, next to the garage in the senior school, and decided on a Constitution. This was given legal shape by a young Old Nabhaite lawyer and documents expert, Satwant Puri (ex-Satluj) of Patiala, and the formal registration of ONA was done under the Societies Act, 1860 at Chandigarh. Gp Capt AJS Grewal was the ex-officio Chairman. Zora Singh Bhullar (J-16) was the first President, Kedarnath the Treasurer, Pradeep Batta the first Secretary and Pradeep Gupta was Joint Secretary. Dr. Jashanjot Singh preferred to be the Organising Secretary. Mr. Grewal gave the ONA space by converting one of the domes of the Kairon Block into an office, by closing it from the sides and putting in requisite furniture.
In order to keep old Nabhaites informed about each other as well as the activities in the school, a medium for flow of information was necessary. Thus was born ‘The Eagle’. Dr Jashanjot Singh was the Founder Editor. It was initially called the “ONA News Bulletin” and its printing and postage costs were met by advertisements from Old Nabhaites. Later, the name ‘The Eagle‘ was adopted because of its presence on the school logo and its sheer symbolism. With its advent the dormant feelings for the PPS in Old Nabhaites were aroused and the response was enthusiastic. ‘The Eagle‘ contributed greatly to bonding within the ONA.
THE TREATMENT OF MR. KATE
Mr. JK Kate, the beloved former Headmaster of the school, who had given everything he had to generations of students to make them future flag bearers of India, developed a severe heart ailment for which he was advised to go to the US for a triple-vessel bye-pass surgery. The cost was enormous. Being honest to the core (in his later years he lived in a small flat in a society building in Poona), he lacked the resources for the operation. What he had earned in his career was the adoration of thousands of students. On prodding by Dr Jashanjot Singh, Gp Capt Grewal and the teachers at PPS, he was prevailed upon to agree to the raising of funds from his old students from all the schools he had served in, for his travel to the US and undergoing the surgery. There was a tumultuous outpouring of funds for his cause. There were many contributors from other institutions where Mr. Kate had served, but the Old Nabhaites and PPS led by Gp Capt AJS Grewal remained at the forefront. Needless to say, Mr. Kate went through his surgery successfully and his life improved qualitatively. He wrote a letter on his return which was published in the ONA Bulletin giving an account of the whole incident and his trip to the US. The episode made one thing clear. Collectively, ONA could do anything.
SILVER JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS
At the Silver Jubilee ONA Day in 1985, the school had a gathering of over 200 Old Nabhaites. The event was sponsored by Gursharan Singh (B-112) of GS Autos, Ludhiana. The school and ONA were able to organize accommodation for all attendees in PPS and the arrangements were exemplary. This was a turning point for the annual ONA Days.
After the Silver Jubilee, as Dr Jashanjot moved to Jalandhar, the team at the helm of ONA gave way to DONA (Delhi ONA) to run the affairs of the Association. Vinod Kashyap (J-65), leading as President, with Shailender Sharma (Ravi) as Secretary and Pradeep Gupta (Beas) as Treasurer formed the core team. The next decade saw the new ONA team enrolling more members, especially in Delhi and from those in the army who were posted to Delhi. The Delhi Chapter held many functions in various places with style – the President’s Bodyguard Mess, the Air Force Mess or the Anchor Inn. The ONA fund also continued to grow.
THE DORMANT PHASE
ONA activities were affected by the extremist situation in Punjab from the mid-80s to the mid-90s. Very few ONA meetings were held in PPS during that time and ONA activity almost came to a standstill. The credit for maintaining some tempo during this phase goes to the Nabha Chapter where Nabhaites like Kedarnath (J-4), Anil Chowdhary (J-20) with Sanjay Mittal (S-609), Sandeep Jindal (J-428), and Anil Bansal (J-233) and others ran the Nabha Chapter.
In Chandigarh, the other active chapter in this phase, active members like Satinder Walia (J-19), Rajinder Jain(R-266), Archana Katyal, Sudarshan Goyal (B-103), Mahavir Singh (S-308), Kanwar Sandhu (J-106), Jaideep Sekhon (S-19), and Dr. Trilochan Bhamrah (B-90) at PGI had regular meetings and dinners. They also organised regular monthly family meetings which built a great spirit. They even organised Inter-School Debate at Punjab University.
The Jalandhar Chapter of ONA established by Dr Jashanjot Singh (S-52) contributed largely to its resurgence. In 1997, sensing that ONA had become a shadow of its early glory, “The Eagle” was restarted with Ashwani Aggarwal (J-188) as editor and with the efforts of Col Hardev Bajwa (S-25) who acted as a free lance journalist. Dr Jashanjot collected material for The Eagle. Many nostalgic letters started pouring in with words of encouragement and offer of funds. Gradually its circulation, starting from 200, exceeded 3000 making its printing an expensive proposition. It would have been financially unviable without the largesse of the Old Nabhaites who came forward as sponsors.
To capitalize on the momentum regained by ONA, a meeting was held in Nabha to form a new team to run the Association. Navin Talwar (S-79) was elected as its President. Dr. Jashanjot Singh (S-52) was General Secretary and Kedarnath (J-4) became the Treasurer. This was followed by the drafting of a new constitution by Col Tejinder Singh (S-70). A meeting was held in Hotel Gulmohar in Ludhiana and the constitution was discussed clause by clause by thirty Old Nabhaites representing different Chapters and those from the army. Capt IS Dhami (R-257) had the body registered at Jalandhar under the Societies Act, 1860. This was a milestone as a completely independent ONA was now in place.
With changing technology and the internet playing a major role in the world, the ONA was not to be left behind. A website “ppsona.com” sponsored by Satwinder (Jimmy) Singh (J-453) from California was launched bringing Old Nabhaites together from all over the world. Dr Jashanjot Singh did the ground work providing content and administering the site. The Eagle, website and internet has helped ONA extend its eagle-like wings from California to Australia. With time to reduce costs of printing, The Eagle e-zine issues were started where for a change, even photographs could be included..
Regular ONA days are now being held at the school. The ONA has been bolstered by chapters like CONA (California) and TONA (Toronto) and meetings in army messes of Old Nabhaites all over India. Other active chapters are Gurgaon, DONA, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Tricity (Mohali, Chandigarh and Panchkula), Amritsar, Bhatinda, Faridkot, Patiala and Nabha inspite of occasional slow down.
Several functions have been organized to strengthen the ONA. “Rendezvous 2000” was organized by the Jalandhar Chapter headed by Col Sant Parkash Singh (R-84) and Organizing Secretaries Dr. KS Sangha (B-371) and Capt Inderjit Dhami (R-257). Almost 300 Old Nabhaites participated in the gala function. Pawan Munjal (S-163) delivered the keynote address. Many old teachers who had been invited were honoured. Blankets were presented to Class IV employees. The senior Old Nabhaites and all girls present were given mementos. A nostalgic slide show of the history of PPS was also organized. A grand fireworks display was sponsored by Dr. Inderbir Nijjar (R-167) and Dr. Preetam Singh (J-242) to usher in the new millennium.
“Interaction 2001” was a grand function held in the school auditorium in memory of the Old Nabhaite bravehearts. Maj RS Cheema (R-8), Capt Harjit Aulakh (S-297), and Capt Manjinder Singh Bhinder were remembered and their families were honoured on the occasion.
Keynote addresses by Old Nabhaites were also initiated along the line. Darshan Dhaliwal (S-5), NRI from Milwaukee, donated Rs 4 lakhs. Pawan Munjal (S-163) gifted a bus to the school. Rajeev Bakshi (B-151), the Pepsi Co Chief, gave an engaging talk on the qualities for success and also offered to fund an IT project in the school up to Rs 5 lakhs. Kanwar Sandhu (J-106) and Lt Gen OP Nandrajog (B-1) were others who delivered keynote addresses.
The ONA at the time of Golden Jubilee in 2010 was run by President, Harpartap Ajnala (B-45) and General Secretary Col Bhupinder Grewal (S-50), ably assisted by Harvinder Dhaliwal (B-627), Joint Secretary, Kanwar Gill (R-095) Treasurer, and others like Executive members Supreet Singh (S-836), Yudhveer Shergill (R-793), Harinder Khatra (J-597), Gulzar Singh (B-401) and Gagan Dhaliwal (S-0310). Gagandeep Kaur (B-678) and Neelinder Sandhu (B-807) also volunteered to come forward and help. Their enthusiasm and spirit have been heart warming and it bodes well for the future.
Lt Gen TK Sapru (S-42), after retirement as GOC-in-C Western Army, took over as President of ONA after the Golden Jubilee of The PPS. As board member he was part of the committee for Golden Jubilee celebrations of PPS and steered it. Other Old Nabhaites who wre on the committee were Harpartap Ajnala (B-45,1967) President and Col BS Grewal (S-50,1967) Secretary of ONA and Dr jashanjot Singh (S-5,1967).
Gen TK Sapru was alsoresponsible for conduct of the Golden Jubilee of the ONA also. He has been a member of the Board of Governors of School and has thus helped improve things in school by taking keen interest and working with the Headmaster. He has also gone to great lengths to start “PPS Golf” at ChandiMandir which has become a regular feature and a hit with over hundred Old Nabhaite golfers .
Recently Brig Harinder (Peter) Bedi (R-58,1968) has taken over as President. His team includes General Secretary Mrs Gagandeep Thind (B-678,1987), Vice President Rajinder Jain(R-266,1976) Treasurer Vikas Jindal (J-846,1992) assisted by Joint Secretary Supreet Singh Puri (S-836,1992), India Spokesperson Ms. Neelinderjit Sandhu (B-807, 1986), Girls wing in charge Ms Puneeta Sandhu(J-540,1987) and Ms Geetanjli Gill (S-491,1983)
The ONA has been supported and encouraged by former staff members also. Many who could not actively participate have donated money and have generously underwritten the costs of dinners and other ONA activities. Space is too small to accommodate the names of the vast number of Old Nabhaites who have helped in various ways on the road to present.
The vision of ONA as far as school is concerned is that of non-interference in the day to day school administration which is left to the Headmaster and his team. The role of ONA lies in supplementing PPS by providing avenues to help students grow as individuals and realize their full potential.
Following awards have been instituted by ONA at different times:
a) ONA Scholarship for fully Residential Meritorious Students of Rs. 70,000 is given to deserving students from Classes IV to XI. It is sponsored by Dr Rupinder Brar (S-291) from USA.
b) ONA Best Teacher Award (Senior and Junior Schools) worth Rs. 1,00,000 is sponsored by Gurkiran Singh Dhillon (J-735)
c) ONA K K Katyal Memorial Award for Best Karamchari worth Rs. 10,000, sponsored by Mr. Katyal’s daughters, Archana (R-307) and Vandana (R-344)
d) ONA Late Sardar Gurdarshan Singh Sandhu Most Improved Child from Rural Background Award of Rs 1,00,000 sponsored by Capt Sandeep Sandhu (R-512) and his wife Puneeta Sandhu(J-540) in memory of his father.
e) The ONA President’s Award for the Best All Round Performance in Extracurricular activities (excluding Academics) of Rs 5,000 each for the Best Boy and Best Girl. Harvinder Singh Dhaliwal (B-627) contributed Rs 1,00,000 the interest on which goes for a gold medal with these awards.
f) Brig AS Jassar (B-210) awarded the variety entertainment participants Rs 11,000 for their wonderful performance at the special function held in honour of Lt Gen O P Nandrajog, Vice Admiral J S Bedi and Lt Gen T K Sapru.
g) Lt Gen T K Sapru, (S-42) presented a cheque of Rs.50,000 to the school in 2007 for a “Scholar’s Blazer” to be awarded to the topper of ICSE (10th) class every year, who rejoins the school. Earlier he had gifted a horse to the school.
h) The ONA has also arranged for Dr. Ms. Iqbal Judge to conduct two Interactive Workshops on Creative Writing / Story writing for senior exam-going classes, one in each term. The Creative Writing Award Workshop is sponsored by Dr. Preetam Singh (J-242).
i) Vice Admiral J.S.Bedi (J-3) presented a model of the ship INS Talwar, a metallic statue of an old sailor at the ship steering wheel and the Western Naval Command crest to the School during the Alumni get together.
j) Lt Gen OP Nandrajog(B-1) presented the Central Command memento to the school. He also presented a horse to the School Riding Club.