MR. MS Bedi

Mr. Manjitinder Singh Bedi

(22-07-1999 to 30-09-2004)




Mr. Manjitinder Singh Bedi (J-82) passed out from The Punjab Public School, Nabha in 1969 after his ISC. He was a good sportsman in school, and was captain of the School Cricket Team, he also represented the School in Football, Hockey and Athletics teams. He graduated from St.Stephen’s College, New Delhi. In St Stephen’s he was member of the Hockey team. He began his teaching career with a short stint of three months at The PPS in 1976 before moving to the Scindia School, Gwalior, where he taught History for 18 years. Later he was the Headmaster of GRD Academy, Dehra Dun and Nishan Public School, Karnal owned by Old Nabhaite Major RS Bhinder (S-229).

Mr MS Bedi the Headmaster, with School staff.

He joined as Headmaster of The Punjab Public School, Nabha on 22nd July, 1999. He was the first Old Nabhaite (J-82,1969) to occupy the coveted seat. During his tenure several new ventures were started. The new Sports Complex for girls was inaugurated. Provision was made for setting up a basketball court, a tennis court and a volleyball court adjacent to the new Dining Hall in Junior School.

Sports complex for girls in junior school next to Dining Hall consisting of Basketball , Badminton, volleyball and tennis courts. Past Vs Present basketball game in progress on ONA Day.

The School organised an inter-school cross country run, on 13th April 2000, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of The Punjab Public School, Nabha.

In August 2000, the first Padma Shri JK Kate Memorial IPSC debate was organized in the school Auditorium. As part of the Anniversary Celebrations, The PPS hosted the IPSC Basketball tournament in October 2000. A record number of 16 teams participated. The PPS also hosted the 37th All India IPSC Athletic Meet in December in which 17 teams of leading public schools sweated it out for the coveted trophy. MNSS Rai team emerged champion while The PPS team was runners up.

In October 2000 and October 2001, the school administration, under the leadership of Mr MS Bedi , Headmaster, helped the Old Nabhaites Association in holding the grand events of “Rendezvous 2000”and “Interaction 2001” as part of their ONA Day celebrations. The highlight of these was honouring of Old Nabhaite Bravehearts’ families -Maj RS Cheema (R-8), Capt Manjinder Bhinder (R-505,1984), Harpreet Mand (B-137), Capt Harpal Singh (R-173, 1973), Capt Harjeet Aulakh (S-297) and DSP Rupinder Teja (J-139,) . A record number of Old Nabhaites attended, especially in ‘’Rendezvous2000’’. Mr MS Bedi also graced the occasion of an ONA dinner and The PPS Horse show with the H.E. the Governor of Punjab as chief guest in Chandigarh.

Pictures show Mr MS Bedi addressing the audience at the occasion of “Rendezvous 2000” (ONA Day); The audience including Old Nabhaites and Pawan Munjal cutting the tape before gifting a bus to The School, with him is the headmaster Mr MS Bedi

Pictures show Audience at the function of honouring the bravehearts at the occasion of “Interaction 2001” (ONA DAY). Families of Manjinder Bhinder (R-505,1984), Maj RS Cheema VrC(R-8,1963), Harpreet Mand (B-137,1969) and Capt Harjit Aulakh (S-297, 1977) are seated in front rows on the left; Maj RS Cheema’s son and wife Jatinder presenting a trophy in his name to the Headmaster Mr MS Bedi; Capt Harjit Aulakh’s father addressing the audience.

Pictures show MS Bedi with Gen Jacob and Minitster Kanwaljit Singh at the horse show. With his mentor history teacher and cricket player Mr Bharadwaj, wishing him well with a gift at the dinner with HE the governor of Punjab.

In 2001, the Gen Jacob Computer Center was inaugurated. It had 31 multimedia computers networked through a virtual LAN drive with remote boot technology. It provided for entire class of 30 with a computer student ratio of 1:1.

Boys working in the Gen Jacob Computer Center in Senior School.

In October 2001, School hosted first IPSC Basketball tournament for the second year in a row with 19 teams participating. This was followed by 38th All India IPSC Athletic Meet in December. The para -sailing club was launched and The PPS became the first in the country to introduce it. Mr Bedi felt horse riding, swimming and para sailing were instrumental in building self-confidence of students and getting rid of their fears.

The ‘Roll of Honour’ Award for Old Nabhaites was initiated by him. In 2003, Maj. Gen. OP Nandrajog was the first recipient of the Honour (He later, retired as Lt Gen and GOC-in-C Central Command).

In 2003 second term on Founders’Day, Justice O.P.Verma inaugurated the new squash courts in the Senior Wing after the function. Shri Hanuwant Singh, scion of the erstwhile royal family of Nabha had earlier laid the foundation stone of the courts and donated a sum of Rs.20 lakhs for the construction.

The Squash Courts in Senior School towards the entrance road from Hira Mahal colony side.

In 2004, Mr MS Bedi was nominated to the Governing Council of the IPSC. He was also appointed as the Governor of Sports Committee of IPSC.
He stepped down from the august office of headmaster of The Punjab Public School, Nabha on 30th September, 2004. During his tenure, the school saw all round growth especially in the field of games and sports.

A dynamic person with excellent organising capabilities, he always stood for traditional concept of balanced and holistic education in a public school.

At the time of their leaving the School, Mr and Mrs Bedi donated a trophy to be awarded to the Best House Show every year. He bid adieu to the School with the following message: “My parting words to all of you would be- please remember, whatever you do, think first about the School. You must have a sense of belonging to this place. It is your alma mater. Be optimistic and positive. And I am sure you will be successful.”

Cmde. IL Syal


(Dec 2004-Dec 2010)

Commodore IL Syal took over the reins of The Punjab Public School as Headmaster on 14th Dec 2004. A special assembly was held in the school auditorium to welcome him. Mr. Kanwar Sandhu, Honourable Member, the Board of Governors, formally presided over the introduction and shed light on the distinguished background of the new Headmaster of The PPS Nabha.

An alumnus of the prestigious Bishop Cotton School, Shimla, Commodore IL Syal is one of the leading educationists of the country and an academic visionary. Besides two Masters degrees in English and Meteorology/Atmospheric Sciences, Pune, he holds a postgraduate diploma in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations. Comm. Syal was a trained psychologist and had served on the panel for selection of Defence Officers.

He has held the positions of Principal, Aditya Birla Public School, Renukot, Principal, Naval Academy, INS Chilka, and Principal, Sainik School, Korukonda (AP). Prior to joining The PPS, Commodore Syal had served as the Principal of Manav Sthali School, a leading public school in Delhi.

During his tenure, the school equestrian team once again bettered its own record by bagging a whopping 51 medals and prizes at the Delhi Horse Show on February 6&7, 2005. The feats of Simardeep Singh, Vattandeep Singh (who emerged champions in their respective categories) and other riders came in for special praise from Gen. J.J. Singh, Chief of Army Staff.


The Horse Riders with Gen JJ Singh and with Instructor Risaldar Saudagar Singh as a team.

In June 2005, Courtsey ONA, through its Jalandhar Chapter and Capt IS Dhami (R-257,1976), three girls Jasmine Bajaj, Harsimrat Kaur Tiwana and Taranjit Kaur visited UK under Derby Youth Exchange Programme. It is organized by Commonwealth countries for the welfare of youth to explore a new side of the world. Mr Dhami was Deputy director, Youth welfare Punjab and project director ,Punjab.

Pictures of The Derby exchange contigent in UK with Capt IS Dhami with turban in the picture on left in front of Buckingham palace Gate.

Kurt Hahn – a German educationist and visionary had founded the Round Square and laid down the IDEALS as a comprehensive approach to education. In the second half of 2006, The PPS applied for its membership and was immediately accepted, as the school philosophy dovetailed perfectly with the IDEALS. The PPS became a regional member of Round Square – a network of around 70 prestigious public schools from all parts of the world sharing a common philosophy based on IDEALS – the pillars of Round Square. Students from the school regularly attend regional conferences spread evenly throughout the year at various member schools.

The school introduced the Dreams and Teams project aimed at developing young leaders and global citizens through sports and cross-cultural awareness. Dreams and Teams Mini-Festival was conducted in the school campus. Twenty-five young leaders planned the Mini-festival, christened FUNRISE – 2007, and more than 80 students from the Junior Wing participated in Statue Dance, Relay Race and Art Competition.

In June 2007, under Comdr. IL Syal’s helmsmanship PPS once again made a mark in high altitude mountaineering when Raghav Verma scaled Mount Deo Tibba as a member of an IPSC Expedition. It was for the first time that IPSC had organized and sponsored an expedition.

The PPS won the seventh Shri JK Kate Memorial IPSC Debate in September 2007 on “Judiciary must overrule Legislature and Executive”. Sixteen schools participated in the annual event and Justice Mr. M Kumar, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, was the Guest of Honour. Namrata Majhail and Sumit Khuddian spoke with great poise and confidence and came in for special praise from the judges and guests alike.

In the same month The PPS became the first school in Punjab to win the International School Award accredited by the British Council. The Award came in the wake of school actively inculcating international curriculum to make the students learned global citizens. The school had entered into partnership for exchange of views with two schools in the United Kingdom – Lodge Park Technology College, Corby, and Derwent Community School, Derwent, Derby. The students also organized projects and celebrated international days such as Labour Day, International Human Rights Day, Earth Day, Red Cross Day, Commonwealth Day and International Friendship Day.

On Jan 28, 2008, he organized a gala get-together of senior Old Nabhaite Defence officers, led by the three Roll of Honour Awardees, Lt Gen O P Nandrajog, Vice Admiral J S Bedi and Lt Gen T K Sapru. Many distinguished Old Nabhaites came together for this memorable get together at The PPS. The idea of the get-together was conceived by Commodore Syal and the Old Nabhaites promptly gave their consent to the Headmaster’s call. Also present were Maj Gen Vinay Sharma, Maj Gen G S Dhillon, Maj Gen Sureshwar Tiwari, Brig A S Jassar, Brig Deepak Vashisht, Brig Anil Kayastha, Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Mr. Suresh Mittal, Chief Engineer, PWD, S Harinder Singh and many others who had carved out a niche for themselves in their chosen professions.
School regulars Mr. Kanwar Sandhu, Dr Jashanjot Bhangu and Mr. Kedar Bansal were also present.

On the left is trio of Lt Gen TK Sapru (S-42,1964) Army Commander West;Lt Gen OP Nandrajog (B-1,1963) Army Commander Central and Admiral JS Bedi, Flag Officer ,Western Fleet: The picture in the center is from School chronicle page of the gathering and on the right showing interaction with students. Nandrajog presented school with a horse and Bedi presented the model of a ship to the School

In February 2008, Inderpreet Kaur, a student of Class XII visited Japan under an exchange programme sponsored by Youth for Understanding India. She was one of ten students selected from elite public schools after a rigorous written exam and personal interview. She spent almost one month with her host, Mrs. Hiroko Fujiwara, a retired school principal, and attended classes at Matsuyama Higashi High School at Matsuyama.

In August 2008, Amrita (J-0740) represented Punjab state in U-17 National Football championship held at Haldwani.

In October 2008, continuing their winning spree, the school Riding Team won the Northern India Inter Public Schools Equestrian Meet and bagged 86 medals out of a total of 120.

The school hosted the 45th IPSC Athletic Meet for Boys and Girls from October 31st to November 2nd 2008.The school athletic team (boys) under the expert guidance of Mr. Jaipal Singh came out with all guns blazing and gave MNSS Rai, their closest sporting rival in modern times, a run for their money. Records tumbled one after the other as the school athletes stamped their authority and class.

Picture on right shows group photo of teams before a Past(ONA) Vs Present basketball match in 2007 with Headmaster IL Syal and Harpartap (B-45,1967) President of ONA.


The students of class VII and VIII participated on the theme of “warmth” under the UKIERI Project (United Kingdom India Educational Research Initiative) in Jan 2009. Children expressed the theme Warmth through different creative forms. They recited poems, wrote essays, made charts and power Point presentations displaying and expressing the theme of warmth.

In June 2009, five boys of the school again successfully climbed Deo Tibba peak (6001M) as part of the IPSC team.

The school became ‘Global Member’ of the Round Square fraternity in October 2009 at Mayo College Ajmer Conference. The School also hosted the Senior Round Square Conference in September 2009.

The UKIERI delegation from UK visited the school in October 2009, before leaving for Amritsar next day.

Commodore Syal had more than 37 years’ experience in the field of education and administration. He was conferred with the ‘The Jewel of India’ award by International Institution of Education, an organization based in New Delhi.

Picture on the left, Headmaster addresses the audience before Variety Entertainment; Anita Scammell (nee Williams) giving book as prize to a student while Mr IL Syal looks on. Attendance of many Ex-volunteer service overseas teachers from UK at the Golden Jubilee was a highlight of the event. Picture on the right is from the Chronicle issue covering the Golden Jubilee Celebrations.

Commodore Syal’s term as Headmaster came to an end in December 2010 after he had very successfully conducted the Golden Jubilee Celebrations in April of the same year. President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Patil had graced the occasion as the Chief Guest.

Gp Capt. AJS Grewal

Group Captain AJS Grewal

(01-09-1979 to 12-06-1991)

The Third Phase

Gp. Capt. Amar Jit Singh Grewal did his early schooling privately under two Englishmen Major Jarvis and Mr.Walkem, and then completed his school education and graduation at Lahore. Later, he did his Masters in English from Government College, Ludhiana. After a course in journalism, he worked freelance with ‘The Statesman’.

In 1952, he joined the Indian Air Force. In 1957, he did the basic course in mountaineering, following it up with the advanced course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling.He was part of India’s first expedition to Mount Everest under Brigadier Gyan Singh, but had to abandon his attempt to scale the peak barely 750 feet away from the summit, due to bad weather. Later, he climbed Mount Neelkanth.

He was the Director, Indian Supply Mission, London, from 1967 to 1972, and a member of the Board of Governors of St. Paul’s School, Darjeeling. From 1973 to1977, he was Principal at HMI, Darjeeling and later at Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi. His hobbies included photography, trekking, journalism and shooting. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, London, and a member of the Alpine Club, London.

The pictures show activities related to adventure under The DEAS scheme; With Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh a long time board member and Army Commander western Command; The Friendhip peak expedition.

When he joined The Punjab Public School in 1979, the School was going through a lean patch. There was lack of activities for the characteristic needs of teenage students involving adventure and creativity. Within no time, he introduced activities that animated the campus. The World Wildlife Club and Hiking Club sprang up quickly and the school was abuzz with action. Judo and Karate coaching was also introduced. His vision was to create a future generation which would not only “do well” in the materialistic sense but also aspire to excel spiritually, morally and intellectually. He wanted to raise a generation which would set an example in simple living and high thinking. He dreamt of PPS alumni proving themselves as efficient administrators, honest businessmen, gallant soldiers and dedicated and clean politicians.

Pictures of mountaineering, Photography and Cine clubs

To prevent encroachment on School land, Gp. Capt. Grewal had the boundary wall constructed around the entire school. He also introduced the concept of SUPW ((Socially Useful Productive work) in the school to raise awareness levels about social work among students. In March 1980, he launched an ambitious project to plant 5,000 trees on the campus. The Rose Garden on the land adjacent to the Hospital, was started with more than 30 varieties of roses which continues to enchant visitors. Later the Cacti Garden was conceived and laid by the School Horticulture Club. Two new Tennis courts were also constructed.

The School Horse Riding Club was started in July 1981, and 25 enthusiastic students immediately registered themselves as members. The PPS conducted it first Equestrian Display at the annual Athletic Meet in November that year. The event continues to be a show-stopper for visitors and guests. Mountaineering and hiking activities reached their zenith during the tenure of Gp, Capt. Grewal with trekking trips to Rohtang Pass, and Pindari and Kolahai glaciers. With regular adventure courses at NIM, Uttarkashi, and HMI, Darjeeling, The PPS firmly established itself as one of the pioneers and torch-bearers in mountaineering.

With school staff; and with Tejinder Khanna, IAS as chief guest; and with chief guest Air Marshall MM Singh.

Rapelling , trekking, mountaineering and tennis activities

It was during his tenure that The Old Nabhaites Association was formally launched by the Old Nabhaites. Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967) approached him for school support. Mr Grewal not only fully supported but also encouraged the Association to establish itself. The front right dome of Kairon Block was designated for ONA office by converting it into a room and providing essential furniture. The School office was used for postal and official work. Gp. Capt. AJS Grewal was also made the first ex-officio President of the Association by the ONA.

Picture show ONA office in the dome; Letterhead and MOA of ONA showing G.Capt. AJS Grewal as EX-officio President of ONA.

There were two changes he brought in school which were not acceptable to many. He changed the eagle in the school logo; This was not appreciated by many older nabhaites, as Public schools follow traditions, without such changes. it was later reversed to older design. Another deviation he made from tradition was that he shifted the Founders’ Day to Diwali break usually in October, perhaps for cooler weather and Diwali break. This has now been reversed to original and actual Founders’ Day in April when school started.

The logo made by founders and Founding Headmaster Mr.JK Kate, and the changed logo of Gp. Capt. AJS Grewal. Sir Edmund Hillary and wife interacting with school children.

The Headmaster with Duke of Edinburgh’s Adventure Scheme Award winners; The tree plantation drive, when 5000 trees were planted in India by the Nature Club.

The Tribune article, 1st Dec.1985, the day, The School celebrated it’s Silver Jubilee. Picture of The Headmaster’s Green behind Senior School. The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip with The PPS award winners and teachers Tilakraj and Sukhram Sandhu. Gp Capt AJS Grewal and Air Marshal Dilbagh Singh viewing photography exhibition

The School’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations were held under the helmsmanship of Gp. Capt. Grewal. In 1988, he held additional charge of looking after Dashmesh Academy, Anandpur Sahib.The last few years of his tenure were marred by extremism sweeping Punjab those days. The school was affected too. The students had fights, the support staff and some teachers formed unions. The school executive committee set up an inquiry to improve the school. Under given circumstances, Gp. Capt. Grewal resigned as Headmaster on May 15, 1991, after serving the School for more than a decade. During majority of his tenure the School scaled new peaks of glory.

Mr. Atma Ram Gupta



(20-06-1972 to 30-05-1978)


Mr Atma Ram Gupta joined The PPS in June 1972 as its second Headmaster. An alumnus of St.Stephen’s College, Delhi, he had obtained his Master’s degree in Physics from Delhi University and then started his teaching career at the Delhi Polytechnic Institute. Four years later, he joined Mayo College, Ajmer. He served there for 23years and functioned as Head of Physics department. He was the incumbent Vice -Principal at Mayo at the time he joined The PPS. During his tenure at Mayo he had also gone to the UK to teach at Uppingham School, England, for a year. Mr Gupta was a scholarly man and was known for his gentlemanliness, easy manners, conversational abilities and down-to-earth attitude. He became the torch-bearer to usher in the second phase of The Punjab Public School.

Picturesshow, Top:with staff, Middle: Auditorium inaugurated in March 1973 though founded in Mr Kate’s time and Bottom:Introducing staff to chief guest, CM, Mr Giani Zail Singh on same day.

During Mr. AR Gupta’s tenure, the new auditorium was inaugurated, on 10th March, 1973, though its foundation had been laid in Mr JK Kate’s tenure. The size of Dining Hall was also increased to accommodate the entire School and 50 guests at the same time. The Old Assembly Hall was converted into a spacious and majestic library that is now among the best in the public schools of the country.

Mr. Gupta was a bachelor, but there were a number of nuptials amongst the staff during his tenure. In his speech at the Founders’ Day of 1974, he mentioned that:
“A record number of members of staff got married in the year, quite undeterred by the economic crisis. Probably they felt that two can face the difficult times ahead better than one. I must confess, as a bachelor headmaster, I have completely failed to inspire them but I am glad their marriages have given them stability. I welcome their ladies to our small community.”

Stressing the role of holistic and balanced education, Mr. Gupta told the students that:
“You boys are very lucky that you are growing up in such a desirable environment where all round development is the objective. This is no easy task. The stress on academic education in our country even at the cost of physical, emotional and cultural development is unfortunate. A complete and wholesome personality is possible only when all our different faculties grow proportionately.”

The Science block, housing two Physics and two Chemistry labs, store rooms, two faculty rooms and a gas room was inaugurated during his tenure.

The Science Block recently and at inauguration by Union Minister, S.Swaran Singh.

Two changes that he brought in The PPS because of influence of his stay at Mayo College were considered controversial by many. One was changing the designation of Headmaster to Principal, contrary to prevailing practices in most Public Schools. Secondly, he changed the unique uniform of brown and cream to blue and grey which broke a tradition that is held very important in Public Schools. Both changes were reversed in later years.

In 1976, the School set a new record by sending 23students to NDA, Kharakvasla, in a single year. By far this has been the best performance of the school. By this time 140 of The PPS students had made it to NDA, and 92 of them were already commissioned officers. In 1978, Mr Atma Ram Gupta left The PPS to join Mayo College, Ajmer, as Principal. Mr Gupta ,a thorough gentleman, functioned in a liberal and democratic style throughout his tenure of six years. He believed in a gentle approach to handling students and gave due respect to their genuine demands and ideas.

Mr. J K Kate

Mr. J.K.Kate a life sketch

Mr Kate was born in a small town in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra on12th August 1914.He moved to Pune at an early age and then moved to Baroda where he passed his matriculation. He studied in the well known Baroda High School and started his teaching career in the same school. Right from an early age he was interested in literature and poetry and wrote many poems ,which were published and started’Sharadutsav ‘a poetry meet for poets  .He wrote a poem detailing the history of the Gaikwads on the birth of Sangram Singh Gaikwad the son of Pratap Singh Gaikwad H.H of Baroda State .and thus came in close contact with the royal family of Baroda.

He would take tuitions even when he was studying The Patwa coaching classes where he taught were a cause of jealousy among the other teachers as his class was always full!

After completing his masters in Pali and his B.T. he started his teaching career at Baroda High School.He was full of energy and enthusiasm and soon established a reputation of being an excellent teacher. In 1953 he joined The Daly College, Indore as a teacher. There too he started many new schemes including a House System for day scholars, which was much appreciated by the parents. He started a tuck shop for the school; this was also highly praised as everyone lived on campus, and would have to go a good five kilometers to get even a packet of biscuits! Thus his administrative skills got a fillip. By the time he left Daly College for Sanawar he was a House Master.

In1953 Mr. Kate joined The Lawerence School, Sanawar, as a bursar Apart from teaching he took over the administrative reins of the school. He introduced new ideas and brought about many changes in the school, whether it was replacing the western diet for an Indian one or hiring tailors to stitch

uniforms or going to Bhakra Nangal to ensure the school got electricity (it got electricity for a few hours each day).In a short  span of time he earned the respect of the teaching fraternity not only in Sanawar but in other public schools as well. In1958 he was selected by The British Council to study the public Schools in England.

In1959 he was selected as Headmaster, to start the first Sainik School in India in Nabha,as was envisaged by Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon,the then chief minister of Punjab. In1961 it became known as The Punjab Public School. With his vision and dogged determination he brought the school on par with other well established public schools in India.In1972 he was conferred the Padmashri for his contribution to education When I asked him how he felt when he met the President he replied, that what gave him greater happiness was to see that the three aides who escorted him to the President  were his ex students!

In the same year his old school, Daly College called him to take over as Headmaster and to reestablish its former glory .For Mr. Kate it was like going back to his roots and he brought about sweeping changes which helped the school establish some of its credentials.

In1978, the government of Haryana beckoned him to head their prestigious Sports Institute at Rai.He always loved the North and decided to join. Soon he joined the Motilal Nehru School of Sports Rai,as Director. Not one to take things easy he worked as hard as ever, in spite of his ill health.In1981 he retired and set up residence in Pune with his family.

This life sketch would be incomplete if I didn’t mention Mrs. Nirmala Kate who stood by him through thick and thin and by her presence helped his dreams come to reality. By her calm and helpful nature she lent grace and dignity to whichever post Mr. Kate held. And worked as hard for the benefit of the school.

As was his nature he kept in touch with his old schools and school boys. There was a steady stream of visitors it was then that he was in his element. As I sit typing on the laptop, I cannot but imagine how happy he would have been with one of these gadgets. The people of Nabha were close to his heart, his face would light up if they called or came and in the end it was they who took care of his heart with their care, magnanimity and love for him, for his boys and his teachers life had come full circle.

The end came on 5th August 1990.I’m sure if he could live his life again he would still love to go back to Nabha and serve the boys he loved and cared for so much.






In 1984 The British Council posted me from Caracas as Representative and Director in Portugal, and I decided to take my local leave on a visit to India and to see again JK Kate.

In 1968 I left Nabha to take another degree in Edinburgh.  I had wanted to stay on in India and there was a tempting possibity of Mayo where Headmaster Gibson was nearing retirement.  But universal advice was that the Indian Public Schools were under threat.  It was forecast by our senior officials in Delhi that the Schools would inevitably decline.  True, there were anti-foreign demonstrations in the capital and Moraji Desai had set his face against the Public Schools, but I could not go along with such views, coming from the Punjab Public School where a dynamic headmaster, J K Kate, was embarked on expansion in an institution producing young, confident and able students who could lead the development of the largest democracy in the world.

Thus, in my return to India in 1984 to visit JK Kate, I was curious to see how the Indian Public Schools had fared. In the Autumn of that year, I visited the Doon School on my way to Mussoorie, and of course that school was thriving and had greatly expanded.  Sadly I could not get back to Nabha, as Punjab was a troubled state after the invasion of the Golden Temple;  however, everywhere there was evidence that the Indian Public Schools, far from being in decline, had hugely prospered and were in great demand.  By 1984 great changes had already taken place in India, and the population of 500 million I had known in 1968 had now in 1984 grown to 800 million, and the role of the Public Schools in this  progress was self-evident, a role to which JK Kate had contributed so much.

In early 1964 I landed at Bombay in transit for Hyderabad where the Public School was an uneasy mixture of old Jagidar traditions and the transition from a British headmaster, Arnold Brown, of the Everest crowd.  Mukram Jah, the enlightened heir to the Nizam, was Chairman, but there was a melancholy air of decline which perhaps, influenced the impending withdrawal of British support for the Public Schools.  It was decided to transfer me.  My new posting to Nabha in 1965 was a revelation.  Our Delhi Office had described J K Kate as the most impressive headmaster in India, and the Punjab Public School was bustling with new projects and an enthusiastic student body who represented all the optimism that would take India forward.  What was extraordinary was the infallible direction that J K brought to the management of the school.  He assembled a talented Indian staff with a minority of British subsidised teachers, and welded them into a cheerful and happy family.  The school was housed in old imperial buildings but the whole atmosphere was one of modernity and new ideas.  Its Headmaster had innumerable high level contacts and was indefatigable in promoting his school.   The strong links with the Punjab State, the Sikh community, and the legal and civil and military institutions, gave the school a prominent and influential position in Punjab and nationally.  I visited other Public Schools with J K, among them Mayo and Sanawar which had been long established and successful schools, but the PPS was up with them in all the traditional Public School virtues, and surging ahead with the imaginative leadership of J K.

A new and recent pleasure has been receiving the newsletters from the immensely successful former student association, run by people like Dr Jashanjot Singh Bhangu.  The obvious enthusiasm and evidence of the huge success of the School, and the reminiscences of old Nabhaites brought back my own memories of  ’65 and ’68:  of Sam Cowell, who used to dine with us frequently to listen to Bach and our music collection,  and Miss Malkani and her young staff who lived below our flat in the Primary School and gave such devoted service to young Nabhaites.  The senior staff and housemasters were an outstanding and dedicated body of teachers.  As a former sixth form master in Britain, I admired the success of my senior students in the Cambridge Certificate, and on the cricket and football fields where they soundly beat me.  Reading through the correspondence from old Nabhaites, I was struck by how many of them now occupy prominent positions in India and abroad, and the obvious pride in their old school and its headmaster.

The Indo-Pakistani war was a bizarre interlude when I patrolled as warden with the VSO, Janet Anderman.  In 1964 I had travelled over by ship to Bombay with Indian and Pakistani graduates from Sandhurst and the memory of their camaraderie and esprit de corps made me a little sad at the hostilities that were developing during my time in Nabha.

Founders’ Days were always spectacular:  in one of them. the India CIC, General Chaudhri, arrived by helicopter and expressed indignation about his namesake’s book, Continent of Circe, until I gave him a copy at his departure.  An odd event was a production of Drinkwater’s Robin Hood play, which J K asked me to take over with John Rigby. although I secretly sympathised with the unfortunate students who had to take part.  Students of my time will remember the visit of Geoffrey Kendall’s Shakespeare players with the small company running on and off stage in a variety of costumes and parts.  We gave them dinner and saw how that extraordinary group was kept alive by the strange enthusiasm of the English medium schools for Shakespeare. As a counterbalance I have to confess to displaying British newspapers and comics in the school entrance hall – younger students lapped up Thunderbirds, but the most vociferous applause was for the Miss World report in the series of British films I got from the High Commission.

The Mallon family life was full of friendship and hospitality, largely due to the Kates.  My wife, Ann, developed skills in Indian cuisine, helped by Nirmala Kate and her friends, and I acquired a preference for Indian and vegetarian food.  Our third child, Margaret, had been born in Hyderabad, and our fourth, Mairi, in Delhi, while we were at Nabha.  The last involved me with J K in my new MG in a collision with a military convoy on the Grand Trunk Road.  Predictably, J K’s contacts provided me with a jeep and a complete rebuild of the front of the MG –   as a safeguard a Puja was carried out on the car on its return.  Mr Oberoi, Sam Cowell’s replacement, became a great friend and tried to revise my written Urdu, while my sons became fluent in Hindi, Punjabi and even Tamil (the last from the ayah).  But when we returned to Edinburgh they ran wild at school and their weakest subject was English!  We were greatly helped by the Horlick’s management in Nabha, although I declined their invitation to head  in convoy at dawn for Delhi during the Indo-Pakistani war.

It was a great delight to meet up again with J K and Nirmala, their family, and all their friends in Poona during my return in 1984.  I went on to Goa to visit the Portuguese archives and to meet their daughter, Jyoti Kate (Mrs Mahajan) and her family. It was a blow to learn in Lisbon later of J K’s death.  He had seemed so lively and well in Poona.

There are a host of memories which would need a book to recount.

I have had many fascinating and happy postings.  Africa was a culture shock. We went on to Madrid and later South America – a lovely and exasperating land, and most recently Lisbon.  There were visits to Singapore, Korea, Ceylon, South Africa, Rhodesia, Greece, Italy, Iran (under the Shah) and Baghdad before its troubles.  But the most memorable experience was my all too brief three years in Nabha.  It was a privilege to serve under J K Kate in the Punjab Public School, which remains as his enduring legacy.

by John Mallon (Ex English head and SeniorMaster)









Obsesed with innovation and efficiency, Mr Kate had the unconscious expectation that great educationalists and administrators always have – that he should be at the centre of any orbit. And he was. He was a visionary whose imagination was fired by grandiose projects, the more seemingly impossible, the better. When he arrived in Nabha in 1959 to establish the Punjab Public School he imposed his own granite discipline over its ‘crew’. Never the curmudgeon of myth, he had a droll, genial personality that made supreme intelligence and formidable self-control.

Few would dispute that he was seen as a demanding, no-nonsense headmaster who aroused a mixture of respect, awe and fear. His intellect and fervour made a strong impression on all of us. “What counts is what you deliver,” he said. He would say, “Yes”. He would say, “No”. But he never said, “Maybe”. He used to say that efficiencies in the educational world were infinite, a faith grounded in the belief that there are no bounds to human creativity. He did it through sheer force of personality, coupled with an unbridled passion for a keen attention to details many heads would often overlook.

He had the gift of presence. When he walked into the Staff Common Room, people straightened their ties and held their breath in anticipation and he dazzled them with effortless command. No one worked harder at his job to prepare more diligently for every challenge. His stellar career, inspiring personal history and reputation for integrity had endowed him with a unique moral stature. He sometimes revelled in a good laugh and took a warm, caring and – there is no other word – paternal interest in the lives of the students and all those worked with him.

When in early 1967 I was interviewed by him in Nabha for a teaching position at PPS what made me fall for him was his excitement and enthusiasm for his seven year old school. He talked with fire and grace and with apparently a profound knowledge of school education but was never didactic and did not at any stage monopolize the conversation. I feel incredibly privileged to have known him, and fortunate to have spent six years under him. Once I joined PPS I found
that he could be gentle, kind, humorous and sympathetic, all at the same moment.

He never gave orders, only occasional suggestions and frequent keen insights into school matters. He was an astonishing man – truly a dazzler, brilliant and, when you were able to catch him in a reminiscent mood, an interesting raconteur – filled with restless energy, initiative and passion. He could be our toughest critic, restlessly and relentlessly urging us to examine what we had done and how to do it better next time often leaning in to ask the tough, embarrassing – and central – question the rest of us had been dancing around. He could actually be quite demanding and he expected all of us to not only keep our lockers clean but also to dress well and be
supremely punctual and he was not concerned with being liked as much as he was concerned with being ethical and doing the right thing for everyone.

He was completely down to earth, otherwise, and closer to it than most. This seeming paradox dissolved in the face of admiration and affection all of us felt for him as a person. And, at the same time, somewhat reserve, appreciative of humour, unobtrusively purposeful, never bitter and always brave, matter-of-factly, loyal to his friends and deeply devoted to his family, he ennobled all his human relationships. At the regular meetings wih housemasters we could see that he was a consummate host with the grace and dignity of a statesman. He and Mrs Kate agonized over the smallest details that might affect the happiness and success of others, unaware that they were naturally one of the most delightful and accomplished presence in our lives and those of the thousands of their admirers.

Looking for recognition and appreciation was not one of his preoccupations. He treated his election to the chairmanship of the Indian Public Schools’ Conference and the award of Padma Shree with modesty and humility. He was like those wise men, a rare trait indeed, who remember the good deeds of others and forget their own. I think of him as essentially a man of goodwill, that is someone who wanted life to be worked according to the highest values and truest principles available to us: these were reflected and expressed in his professional life, public engagements and private family home.

He was a man of extraordinary fertility. All was grist to his mental mill. His bright, intelligent and persevering secretary, Pushapraj, would confirm that when he spoke he cut clean through the matter and never wasted words. Although there was a prominent sign, PLEASE BE BRIEF, on his table for the visitor/caller to see he listened with total concentration to what one had to say, a sympathetic grin flickering at the corner of his mouth People stood in awe of his sagacity. I know better than anyone else that he never lost his temper. What he did do, albeit rarely, was to  misplace it. He would not suffer fools gladly and he disapproved of inefficiency, tardiness and plain garden-variety stupidity. Most of us who learned the ropes of headmastering from Mr Kate have tried to imbibe from him the value of time, the pleasure of working, the obligation of duty, the courage of convictions, the virtue of patience, the power of kindness, the dignity of simplicity and the strength of character but how much of these, we do not know. Our gratitude to him is exceeded only by his generosity.

How should I describe Mr Jagannath K Kate – the ‘juggernaut’ amongst headmasters? “He was a tradition – no, more than a tradition. He was an event in the lives of hundreds and thousands of Nabhaite students, staff and parents.” A splendid Indian.

There is an old Irish saying that goes something like this: “Take a good long look, my son, for  once he’s gone, you’ll not soon see his like again.”  Will there be another headmaster like Mr Kate? I wonder.

(In chronological order, formerly Ravi Housemaster; Head of English
and Editor-PPS Chronicle; Headmaster, St Paul’s School, Darjeeling;
Principal, Th Daly College, Indore; Headmaster, The Lawrence School,
Lovedale, Ooty; and, Founder-Principal, The Indian School, Al Ghubra,
Muscat, Oman.)






Remembering J.K. … 

By Mela Singh (The first office Superintendent of PPS)

It is difficult to sum up my experiences with Mr. Kate in just a few words.  I shall, however, try to recollect just a few that have direct bearing on the life of a public school in general and our school in particular.  When I joined the school in early sixties as an Office Superintendent, I was rather over-confident that it would be a very easy job to handle office work of such a small school.  So far as the office work was concerned, there was no problem and I was often patted on the back by the then, Headmaster who was known for his expert handling and management of finances.

But this was not enough in a public school.  I was told by Mr. Kate on more than one occasion, that the office cannot live a life different from the life of the school.  Everything, every department of the school has to be public school like.  I remember one instance when he virtually pulled me up for not arranging to send some peon to the Post Office for a master who had to send a money-order.  He later explained to me that if the master had to run errands for small jobs like that and if he had to teach under tension and anxiety, what good work was he going to do in the class ? He emphasized that if we were doing one small job for the master or anybody else who was on duty, we were helping the school in so many ways.

During Mid-Term treks and tours, it was my duty to send a peon to the residences of all the masters and find out if any service was required.  During holidays and vacations we in the office had strict instructions to deliver the personal mail of staff-members at their respective residences, Mr. Kate told me that this served two purposes : one-a sound tradition of family life was established and two-no one could sacrifice school work on the pretext of a pressing domestic work.  To me the logic seemed convincing.

The office culture in a public school has to be quite different from the much abused “babuculture” of ordinary offices.  Mr. Kate was successful in achieving this right in the beginning.  We were involved in almost every aspect of school life. “You must come out of your files and ledgers and live a more varied life,” he would often say.  Though membership of the Staff-Club was optional for the office staff, everyone of us became a member and we never thought we were a different class.

Although we did not know most of the boys as closely as the housemasters and masters did, we had to deal with their parents on many occasions and this brought the office people also in the larger picture of the school family.

Now I can realize that strong foundation of human relationship goes a long way in the shaping of a school’s total personality.  When it was emphasized that human beings are more important than life-less files and ledgers and that clock-watching of eight hours is not better than honest work of a few hours, we felt proud of ourselves.  The sound foundation of work based on this philosophy has paid rich dividends ever since the school started.  Our accounts and management of budget have even been envied by well known schools like Doon, Sanawar, and Mayo.  In fact all this was the result of teamwork and a strict watch by the people on the top.  This practice has lived till now and worked well.  Before doing anything, Mr. Kate’s maxim was, ,ask yourself whether it is good for the school and whether we could do without it.  If it is good, go ahead.’

The most difficult thing for most of us including masters was to go on casual leave unless it was unavoidable.  I do not want to say that the rules were very strict.  In fact there was no need for one to go on leave for small domestic work because they were taken care of by the school.

Some people have a remarkable memory about old boys and Mr. Kate is one of them.  While sorting out the school mail, I was once unable to trace the house No. of one boy to whom the letter was addressed.  As usual I sought Mr. Kate’s help and I was surprised to find that he not only knew his House No. but also his parents, home, and habits.  He knew almost everything about all the old boys.  Another such person was the late Ms. Malkani whom we often referred to as the school directory.’

Often people talked about Mr. Kate’s miserliness with  regard to school expenditure.  He was miser about time too.  Once I was sent to Shimla to get the scholarship money released.  He chalked out my programme himself in such a way that I had to spend two nights in the train and do the work in one day.  In this way I was away from duty only for one day.  Mr. Gurdial Singh Dhillon, Speaker Lok Sabha once said, “Mr. Kate knows how to create interest in work whether it is teaching, office work or out door work.” After trekking expeditions, he used to call a staff meeting for stock-taking’ as he would call it.  He had a word of praise for those who kept the per-capita expenditure minimum and something else for those who exceeded the limit.

My first duty every morning was to, give him the upto-date financial position. ,”This,” he would say, “helps me in taking decisions that involve money.” The Accounts Section had strict instructions not to spend a single paisa more than the sanctioned limit.  Once the Board asked him to bring down expenditure including the salaries by ten per cent.  Without touching our salaries, he managed the accounts so skilfully that the Board in its next meeting called him a wizard of accounts.’

At the half yearly get-together, the entire teaching and office staff used to be the personal guests of the Headmaster and the Bursar.  Mr. Kate had established personal relationship with everyone and while he drew strength from this relationship, the staff in the bargain got a constant stream of inspiration from him.