(Recapturing the excitement of the First Founders’ day cum inauguration of The Punjab Public School by the President of India ,Dr Rajendra Prasad. In the words of, and as remembered by Mr OP Bhatnagar, a multifaceted Teacher and also as recorded in the School Chronicle. The speeches are included in another section. Picture shows the President unveiling the Plaque at the entrance to Kairon Block.)
a) The first Founder’s Day was on 14th April 1961. President of India , Dr Rajendra Prasad formally inaugurated the school. The Governor, Chief Minister, GOC-in-C Western Command, Area Commander, Lt Gen Kalwant Singh, the four erstwhile rulers, Their highnesses of Nabha, Patiala, Kapurthala and Malerkotla and several other dignitaries had agreed to come. Mass PT was to be performed on the ground next to MI Room (present Rose garden). A new stage was made in the circular lawn( in front of Kairon block) for speeches, prize giving, and stage performances. Maharaja of Patiala had loaned a gigantic Shamiana with thick wooden pillars for support. All human efforts failed to put up the shamiana. It was too heavy even for Punjabi muscle. Ultimately Army’s help was sought. Army sent two caterpillar type cranes with a fatigue party. They success fully pitched up the huge shamiana. But the maneuvering of the crane left 2ft deep network of trenches in the soft PT ground. Mr Kate was upset. We assured him to do everything to solve the problem. All night staff and students worked to fill up all the trenches with mud. Rectangular patches of grass were placed on mud to make the lawn look like a continuous lawn.
The big shamiana (loaned by Maharaja of Nabha) under which the whole school and guests sat. The royalty in front. The school children at the back
b) The highlight of the stage performances were plays. Hindi play, “kutte ki maut” was directed by Mrs Kate and English play “The invisible Duke” was directed by Mr SC Cowell. I played tabla and dholak with all musical items.
c) Two days before the function, on 12-4-61, Mr Kate asked me to paint three panels for stage .A horizontal panel of 36ft by 3ft was required for the top of the stage and two vertical panels of 18ft by 3ft were required for the two sides of the stage. He wanted the panels fixed next day. A very tall order! Mr Kate engaged three carpenters and got me the three panels by 5.00 pm. I worked on those panels with the help of my art hobby pupils. I worked non-stop from 5pm to 11am on 13-4-61.By 2.00pm the panels adorned the stage. Mr Kate could not believe his eyes when he saw the beautiful panels.
d) Seating dignitaries Seating arrangements for such a large number of dignitaries was a nightmare. But the teacher-incharge, Mr. Joginder Singh, was a habitual winner. He planned the seating arrangement. There were nominated and labeled seats for VIPs as per protocol rules.
e) Crashing of the Shamiana:As expected, the function was a huge success. Speeches, prize-giving, followed by P.T. display, visit to the exhibitions, tea party and back to the shamiana for variety entertainment program. In the end, Rashtrapatiji left for Hira Mahal (where he stayed) along with Governor, C.M., ex-rulers etc. In 20 minutes all left the shamiana. Then came a big dust storm with slight rain. Then I saw the gigantic shamiana crashing down. Had anyone been under it, he would have been crushed by the giant beams and pillars or would have suffocated under the shamiana. I was highly worried for the boys. I promptly walked all over the shamiana to check if there was any casualty. Thank God! No one was trapped underneath. A major mishap averted. It surely was an eventful function.
Mr OP Bhatnagar capturing a scene on canvas on a trip to Rohtang on the banks of Beas.
OP Bhatnagar (Ex Hindi, Art, Dramatics)
“The woods are lovely dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep”
On 11th April, 1961, The President arrived at Nabha station by special Presidential train with the engine bearing the national flag. The President was received by the Governor of Punjab, board members and the Headmaster at the station.
From the Chronicle:
The School together with a large concourse of parents and visitors, assembled in an enormous ‘Pandal’ erected on the circular lawn directly in front of the New Secretariat building. Immediately on the President’s arrival at 10.00am with a huge entourage including the Governor Shri VN Gadgil, high ranking officials from the Defence Forces, State Administration, Prinipals of Sanawar, YPS Patiala and Lovedale, the members of the staff were introduced to him by the Headmaster. The President was then conducted in procession to the dais and proceedings opened with the singing of a prayer addressed to Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. It was followed by the Headmaster’s report wherein Mr.Kate expressed his gratitude to the President
“If I mistake not, this is the first public school in independent India to be inaugurated by the First Citizen of the country”.
After the Headmaster had read his report, the President performed the official act of inauguration, which took the form of unveiling a tablet bearing the inscription:
THE PUNJAB PUBLIC SCHOOL
DR. RAJENDRA PRASAD,
PRESIDENT OF INDIA,
11TH APRIL, 1961.
The President then delivered his address and expressed his pleasure at visiting an institution that he described as “young in age but full of enthusiasm and hope about the future”.
He lauded the role of Public Schools in providing holistic education to the children and at the same time emphasized that such schools should avoid being elitist and should open their doors to all classes of society like PPS had done. He concluded his speech with the following words.
“I have every hope that this institution will soon catch up with similar schools in Punjab and elsewhere and will continue to grow from strength to strength in the service of the youth and the country at large”
Before leaving for Hiramahal Palace, where he was to lunch with Their Highnesses of Nabha, the President went round the exhibition arranged in the Assembly Hall. This included Arts, Leatherwork, Handwork, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Geography sections. During the course of the day a large number of parents and visitors visited the Hall and many of them spoke in high terms of praise of the exhibits, and in particular of the paintings and other articles turned out by the boys.
The President and his entourage were among the large audience at the variety entertainment which was presented by the school at 6.00 p.m. that same evening. The programme opened with a rendering of ‘Rag Malkaush’ by the School Orchestra. Next came an abridged version of ‘The Invisible Duke’, a one-act play in English. Taninder Singh(S-35,1964) as the Astrologer was outstanding, while Daljit Singh Shaheed (B-54,1966) gave and intelligent and convincing performance as nekko, Deepak Kapoor’s(J-2,1965) Duke was on the stolid side and distinctly lacking in verve Jasbir Singh Mann(R-37?) as the attractive but the irascible Lady Amelia, Narinder Nath Dogra(S-61,1964) as the amorous but pusillanimous Francisco, and Harjeet Singh(J-49,1967) as Dekko,the astrologer’s loyal adherent, all proved adequate in minor roles. The colourful period costumesand the realistic décor contributed appreciably to the success of the play.
The animated yet graceful Kumaon folk dance by Indra Surjit Singh (S-32,1964 first PPS girl), Surinder Punnia (J-54,1963 second girl) and Jyoti Kate (third girl) (R-52,1967) proved deservedly popular.
The highlight of the evening, however was ‘Kutte ki Maut’, a one-act play in Hindi in which all the players were drawn from the Junior School. Among a large cast, all of whom spoke clearly and distinctly and acted with the charm born of a complete lack of self consciousness, special mention must be made of Bhupinder Singh (B-20, 1966) as Miss Bela Batliwala, whose whole existence centred round her beloved dog ‘Tommy’, her boy-friend, Inderjit Singh (J-40,1967), who believed in the efficacy of the aphorism ‘Love me, love my dog’, Jyoti Kate as her maid –servant, naïve and pert by turns, and Narinder Mohan Gupta (J-25,1960-62) as Jyotishi who, despite his apparent artlessness, adroitly exploited the situation to his own advantage.
The day of days in the school’s history was rounded off by a display of mass P.T., Horse work, gymnastics and tableaux. The boys looked the epitome of smartness and carried through the whole show with commendable alacrity and precision.
(from the Chronicle Archives, April,1961)
Middle picture shows President with Headmaster JK Kate at far end,CM Sardar Kairon at foreground end, Governor Gadgil ,C Mangat Rai and Brig Gurkirpal in between to right of The President.The second picture shows Mrs Macmillan,Mrs. Tankha and ladies being introduced to the President
First picture shows The Three of four first girls Surinder Punia (Minna)(J-54),Jyoti kate(R-52)and Basanthi Mathu(R-73).The first PPS girl Indira Surjit Singh(S-33) is not in the picture. .The second picture shows Mrs Macmillan Nursing matron,Mrs Tankha and Miss Row. The third picture shows teachers at back stage Mr Punia, Mr Kumar, Mr YP Bharadwaj and Mr SC Cowell.
In first picture Bhupinder (B-20) is incidentally walking in front of dignitaries (Bela Batliwala in the play). Later, a Urologist in Minnesota. Second picture shows the men that mattered, the board members from left Brig Gurkirpal, Raghuvender Choudhary (DLF fame), Col Naunihal Singh Mann and the Secretary of the Board Mr JK Kate. The last picture shows mass PT held in the dark, we the boys carried lamps at the start.
My dear Kate,
I am writing to express my appreciation to you, all the Members of the Staff, as also the students, for the excellent arrangement that you made for the inauguration by the President of India. Please accept congratulations and convey them to those who helped you to make the functions such a success.
The students put up a very good dramatic show which I consider to be second to none that I have seen in various schools that I have had the privilege t visit.
With bets wishes,
Kalwant Singh, Lieut. General
Through the kindness and good offices of Brigadier Gurkirpal Singh ,Sub Area Commander, P&H.P., a military pipe and drum band was in attendance at the time of the inauguration ceremony and did much to enhance alike the dignity and enjoyment of the occasion. To Brigadier Gurkirpal singh as well as the musicians we would express our warmest thanks.
We are deeply grateful, too, to the Officer Commanding ,Officers and all the ranks of The Scinde Horse, for their invaluable help during the course of the preparation for the various functions on the 11th of April. The success of these functions was due in no small measure to their generous assistance , given so willingly and in innumerable ways.