(Not shying from throwing in some criticism PPS Gill (B-39,1964) was Chief of Bureau,The Tribune and wrote this article on ONA Day 2000 (Rendezvous 2000). It appeared in The Tribune on same day (Sunday, 22nd Oct, 2000) under the Education section.)
‘‘Onward and Upward’’
PPS Gill (B-39,1964) (Ex-Chief of Bureau, The Tribune)
(Written at the time of “Rendezvous 2000” ONA gathering on Sunday Oct22, 2000)
THE official body of former students of The Punjab Public School (PPS), Nabha, goes by the name: The Old Nabhaites’ Association (ONA). It is now more than 35 years old with the first batch in their 50s.
Time, as they say, flies away quickly. It all seems as if it was only yesterday when we were ‘‘boys in school’’. Today as we look back, over 4,000 students have left the portals of the palatial school building, once the secretariat of the Maharaja of Nabha.
The school owes its existence to a visionary: late Partap Singh Kairon. It was his brainchild to establish a Sainik school and give an opportunity of quality education to the children of men in uniform without distinction of rank. The idea caught the eye of late Krishna Menon, the then Defence Minister. He extended the concept nationwide.
But Kairon had his own plans. To keep his project out of the purview of the Defence Ministry, he renamed it The Punjab Public School, which was formally inaugurated by late Dr Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India in 1961. The Kairon, however, opened two Sainik schools as well, one at Kapurthala the other at Kunjpura; now in Haryana.
As the ONA celebrates ‘‘Rendezvous-2000’’ today, old memories, bitter and sweet, come flooding. Those were the days when we students underwent rigorous training in discipline, physical fitness, academics or pursing hobby classes and sports. The long work hours put in by the founder Headmaster, late J.K. Kate, the one-to-one relationship with the teachers, the mandatory orders to speak only in English, rugged PT drill, the Wednesday debates or talks Saturday evening movie et al are the reminiscences of yesteryear which will get revived today.
It was a boys’ ‘‘only’’ school when we passed out. Today, PPS is a co-educational institution with 850 students on roll. Over a period of time, it has lost some of its old charms and prestige. It also became a victim of unionism, bureaucratic apathy and political indifference and interference by successive governments not to forget the decade long extremism gripped Punjab.
A lot has changed and much needs to be changed and, perhaps, restored too to keep alive the spirit of Kairon, realise the dreams of Kate and maintain the school’s identity. Being part of the ‘‘system’’, The PPS could not remain insulated from man-manouvered machinations and vagaries of time for too long. The special status the school enjoyed once was also lost in the maze of routine government functioning. Financial constraints and unkept promises adding to its woes. No visionary Headmaster followed Mr JK Kate. The later staff though good, has not matched the standards of early decades.
Such thoughts, per force, cross the mind as we, the old Nabhaites, assemble on the Headmaster’s green and look back hoping things will change and improve. The campus has been spruced up. Only yesterday, October 21, the 40th Founder’s Day was celebrated where the Governor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), was the chief guest.
As in respect of many other institutions, PPS, today has one of its old students, M.S. Bedi, as its Headmaster. The school owes much to those men who played a key role in realising the dream of Kairon. They include Lt-Gen Kulwant Singh and Col Naunihal Singh Mann.
From our experience, one thing can be said about schooling at PPS: it did not produce snobs, but boys who have risen in their varied, respective vocations and professions by sheer grit, determination and hard work. May this be in the field of politics, defence, civil services, medical, engineering etc. Some even ventured into sports, journalism and business and stand out.
As The PPS celebrates its 40th birthday, it is time to rediscover and reinvent it reviving the real objectives with which it was established.
The school is ‘‘home’’ to boarders but it now permits day students as well. The School scroll shows that old Nabhaites have risen to high ranks in defence forces and scaled many heights in their respective careers. The who’s who of Nabhaites is a long list of those who have distinguished themselves.
Recently, Wisconsin University selected eight students giving them scholarship for higher studies abroad. The number of scholarships has now been raised to 25.
The school badge has an “Eagle” with the motto: ‘‘Onward and Upward’’. The ONA has adopted this as the name of its news letter The Eagle, which connects the Old Nabhaites and the alma mater with the Old Nabhaites.
Prithipal Singh Gill (B-39,1964)has been Chief of Bureau,The Tribune, Additional Director, Communication, PAU, Ludhiana and Information Commissioner ,Punjab.