DARING TO BE DIFFERENT...
Daring To Be Different
The Old Paulite Association (Europe) feels a clear vision of what St Paul's should be in 10 – 15 years is needed. The world of education in India has changed dramatically and if SPS is to be recognised as an important player it must differentiate itself from the rest. The discussion document 'Daring To Be Different' presents the thinking of the Old Paulite Association (Europe) formulated after over 4 years.
The paper was referred to recently in 'The Way Forward' session hosted at the school during the 'Paulite Forever' celebrations in October 2014. In the opinion of the committee of the OPA(E) it addresses all the major factors which influence schools like St Paul's.
The complete document has been sent to all those who attended that discussion, including the Revs Halder and Howard. Copies were also sent to the several Old Paulite Associations and to the Bishop of Calcutta, chairman of the board of governors.
It is presented here as an essential consideration for future discussion.
11th September – Mr Mukhia in SPS has confirmed that 'most' of the boys are now back in school and classes will resume tomorrow. The intention now is to reduce the winter holiday and puja holiday periods somewhat to make up for the lost term time.
Ken Pearce writes on 7/9/2013:
The restrictions on schools operating in Darjeeling have been relaxed following decisions taken after a meeting of the GJM and school principals in the Darjeeling area on Friday. The original plan for students to return on the 2nd September did not take place because of the continuing general strike. Paulites en route to school at that time had to remain in The Diocesan Guest House in Siliguri under the supervision of four teachers until conditions allowed them to complete their journey.
Mr Arnold Mukhia, a master in SPS, has kindly emailed today, Saturday, to inform that those boys from Siliguri arrived back in school safely today. The school arranged transport. The rest of the boys making their own way back with their parents will be able to report in school on the 9th and 10th September when the bandh is lifted for a two day window to allow a breather before a further resumption.
There will still be restrictions on students mobility but schools are being allowed to function and those restrictions should not now affect boarders in St Paul's who are on the premises and do not have a long commute daily by bus between their homes and their schools.
(AND FROM BEFORE)
Dear Old Paulite
Some of you have asked for news about the school/Darjeeling/bandhs etc following the renewed agitation in the hills for a separate Gorkaland state. You will probably know there is an indefinite 'bandh'. I was in touch with Rev Halder last week when he was making arrangements to return the boys to their homes, as indeed were the authorities in the other boarding schools. Despite all, they were well.
You might find this link to The Times of India's article on the subject of interest. It is dated 4th August so it is current. Rev Halder is quoted in it.
If I get more up-to-date information from the school I will certainly pass it on to you.
With Best Wishes
Sujoy Dey wrote on 11.08.2013:
Darjeeling tea industry heading for shutdown
Chairman of Darjeeling Tea Association SS Bagaria said the
indefinite bandh called by the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM)
has made it extremely difficult to sustain operations.
Reuters Kolkata: The indefinite bandh called by the Gorkha Jan Mukti
Morcha (GJMM) which entered the ninth day today in the hills has
sparked fears of the Darjeeling tea industry facing a complete
shutdown. The strike would affect the entire post-second flush
which takes place during August amounting to 7.35 lakh kg. The
bandh is going on and it is becoming extremely difficult for us
for sustaining operations, chairman of Darjeeling Tea
Association, S.S. Bagaria, told PTI here. He said that although
the tea industry has been exempted from the shutdown, movement
of tea and inputs from and to the factory has stopped
Bagaria said that the 87-odd gardens located in the hills are
unable to transport the tea from the factory and the produce has
to be stored on the factory premises. There is a capacity limit
of the factories to store their produce. If this continues for
another three to four days, plucking will have to be completely
stopped, Bagaria said. The bandh has also stopped entry of
inputs like coal and fuel to the factories as no trucks were
able to run in the hills, Bagaria said. Since the entire crop
is exported, it will create uncertainty among exporters and
importing countries, he said.
Chairman of Andrew Yule & Company, Kallol Datta, added that
supply of ration to the workers is also getting hit. Owing to
the strike, no ration can be transported to the gardens and
factories, Datta said. We will have to stop all activity if
the strike continues for a few more days, he said. The Indian
Tea Association, the apex body of tea planters, has called an
emergency meeting on Tuesday to evaluate the situation in the
hills. We have called for a meeting of the members having
interests in Darjeeling for a review of the situation, ITA
Secretary-General Manojit Dasgupta said. He said that ITA would
talk to local transport operators to ascertain whether they were
willing to transport tea with police protection.
Ken Pearce wrote on 10.08.2013:
Sourajit phoned Joy Halder this evening. He informs that the principals of the major schools in Darjeeling, including Joy Halder, met Gurung yesterday to discuss the effect of the bandhs on the Hill Schools and urged that schools should be allowed to function. Gurung was adamant that the indefinite bandh would continue and that no exception would be made for educational establishments.
I believe SPS is closed for the duration.
Not good. In this political unrest can you imagine parents wanting their children to return when the bandh is lifted? I can't!
I do not know what arrangements are being made for the examination years 10 and 12.
Thought you might be interested in this update.
Ken's email to Sanjoy Chatterjee on 08.08.2013:
It goes without saying that we in the OPA(E) are disturbed by the situation in Darjeeling and especially concerned about the effect the indefinite bandh will have on St Paul's and the other great scholastic establishments in that area.We fear irreparable damage. Kabir Mustafi sent me a copy of an email he had sent to Rev Halder suggesting the schools in the area might approach the GJM and plead for sanity. I presume you will have seen a copy of that.
Kabir's suggestions do make sense to me but being so far from events geographically it is impossible for the likes likes of me or any of us Paulites here in Europe, far removed from the scene, to say anything really constructive without a first-hand appreciation of the conditions and situation on the ground in Darjeeling. It would be understandable if all the schools there think it best to remain quiet and compliant until the present rush of GJM testosterone subsides. However damage has surely already been done to St Paul's and if our governors can do nothing positive it is impossible to see how this great school will continue as it has done for the past 190 years.
Taking a cue from what Kabir suggested to Rev Halder. I wonder whether the OPA in Kolkata has thought about forming a committee to meet the Bishop/ David Howard /governors to express Old Paulite concerns and ascertain how the Board intends to manage its way out of this crisis? Perhaps we might offer Old Paulite assistance, because without a clear strategic plan from the board, our great school, like all the others in the area, simply will not survive.
A simple question from the Jansens on 07.08.2013:
So sad - does this herald the end of a great tradition? If they are successful and the new state is formed, does anyone know what impact it will have on these great educational institutions?
KKM Mustafi wrote on 07.08.2013:
Needless to say but I presume you and the Board were compelled to take the decision to temporarily shut the school.
The exercise of restoring faith among parents is going to be hard. So may I urge that you try to set up dialogues in favour of the continuance of Darjeeling as a safe education hub, despite political stress?
I wonder what the local power echelons are saying and doing about the schools. Is it possible to get all Principals and have a meaningful dialogue with the leaders? Can a "sympathetic" agreement be crafted, so as to swing public sympathy very surely on to the side of rightful demand? It's been done before. K Lama, BBT, SM Pradhan and almost four or five more of us were able to engage different groups in conversation. It led somewhere positive even in the toughest of times.
Hill people, particularly in Darj etc are very pro-children. Always have been. It would be a wonderful if the tenor and quality of protest could be changed so that children and innocents are neither hurt nor held to ransom. That the Movement guarantees its own people no loss of income. And guarantees tourists & visitors the very best of hospitality despite being in a clear state of neglect pending a resolution for Statehood/ autonomy/ whatever....
Gandhigiri is working. Instead of riots thousands of people are signing petitions which go to the right people and cannot be ignored. Courts of Law are now beset with protest litigations. There is relentless pressure in the form of silent vigil during the parliamentary sessions; that (like Japan) - tea production increases; that revenue increases but transfers to other coffers do not and so on and so forth. There are many things to do that will have a far greater impact than bandhs & violence. Twitter and Facebook get huge maasses of support, all the while proving to the world that violence and arson and idiocy have no place any more and simply do not work. Like in Egypt & in Syria.
As Heads of prestigious institutions we enjoy a certain amount of credibility. We can use that to request meetings and conferences and offer to draft plans and organise different programmes and even shame people into working well. Harvard University refers to such people as THOUGHT LEADERS - people who influence positive social change at the national level.
The effect & impact of Thought Leaders has increased by quantum bounds because of ICT. This is an opportunity to make good changes - not just change as in change of government or power or devolution but change in attitudes and ethics and ethos - for the benefit of the people. And in a smallish society like Darj, it's not difficult to connect with the decision makers.
Bandhs shut schools but also shut shops and taxis and buses. In Darj daily income is a very serious matter. Education is a very serious matter. By stopping these activities the harm is incalculable. There is no more scope for cynical inaction because there is just simply too much at stake. For us the fate of St. Paul's and NP & LC etc is at stake. We can't just let the schools sink like a stone and simply disappear except for memories. let's see what we can actually do to save the schools.
These are different days among us now. If we can do something to help good change, the means are available. So we can. And must.
For a start, Jaswant Sokey has put together a very committed team. There are boys in the team from Sikkim, Darjeeling, Nepal etc. They could be great conduits for discussions with local leadership and help to convince them that there are alternatives to shutting the schools - which are the main big money generators for the population - from momo shops to taxis, to fancy hotels to clothes, and boutiques and tourism.
Good luck and do revert so that the world can voice its support for all of you and so that the powers that be have no option but to take action. Blood and burning are passé - they make nothing happen.
More from KKM (this is not pleasant reading):
But who ordered them to send the children home???????????????
The Gorkhaland business was at its ugliest between '86 and '89. replete with decapitations and long kukhris and burning bungalows (including the tourist place on Tiger Hill). Jefferson Gardner was Rector. We got Mr K Lama, Mr BBTamang & Diamond & Co. to inform Mr. Ghising that as a Boarding School we simply could not shut the school and so, for many many bandh days we functioned in games clothes and without long bells, to give the impression that "normal working" was at pause. Food supplies were sometimes short so menus were adjusted. People like the Late Mr Seal (purchase) father of Bhaskar Seal, went into priority mode to ensure supplies would not run out.
On one occasion an armed band were trawling through the Pelly's - Dawkin's forest and Jeff Gardner, in gown and all, arrived alone from the tennis court end and persuaded the crowd to take the Army Chapel path back to Katapahar. And they went, watched in admiration by Hardip and us and the rest of the Dawkins crowd. This was the closest we came to the real threat of violence. And of course the beheading of Capt. Pradhan, of the Tourist hostel just down the road from Carter's.
We had the largest withdrawal in 86 - 87 I think - Shashank Dubey's (School Cap 1989) year X batch. They were worst affected as more than half did not return after the Board exam. But at no time did we ever experience an exodus during term, nor was the school ever completely shut.
So - why did we send the boys back please?
Including updates from the Kolkata boys...
Recent updates on the BOGS from Indraneil Ray!!
The choir performs at St. Pauls' Cathedral, Kolkata
Retirements and resignations...
Mr Arun Jayal, Housemaster of Lawrence retires after 34 years. Those from the 80's will remember him adding onto the History numbers along with 'Teddy' KN Dar!!
The Senior Master Mr. Ricardo Soler will be leaving the school at the end of the school year to take up a position with the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations in Delhi.
On Monday 15th October the school play was performed. This year’s production was the musical “Grease” – an adaptation for the stage of the popular movie of the same name.
Sports Day was on the 17th October and Speech Day and the distribution of Prizes followed on Thursday 18th, after which the school will break the 10 day Puja Holidays. Also at this popular visiting time, parents and friends visiting the school were able to view exhibitions of work produced by the boys pursuing their various hobbies in the Primary, Junior and Senior wings.
We are also informed that after the release of the film “Barfi” (which featured St Paul’s), the school has grabbed a lot of media attention and attracted a number of tourists visiting the school at odd hours. We are not sure how the school is dealing with that, but assume the awareness of the location generated through the publicity accorded India’s talented young actors Ranbir Kapur and Priyanka Chopra is welcomed.
Speech Day / Sports Day photos
The latest from Amrit Tiwary...
School Captain : Abhimanyu Singh (Hastings).
The school won the Edinburgh Shield for the third consecutive year.
Other activities in school such as debates, elocutions and house concerts keep taking place every now and then. The more recent of them are :
English Elocution : Won by Clive
Brain of St. Pauls: Second round leader Akshat Tiwary (class 9, Clive) 96 points. [there is one round remaining]. Coincidentally he happens to be my younger brother (Yes, you would point that out, Amrit!!).
On the 15th of August the Independence Day ceremony took place with a Special Chapel service followed by the NCC parade. The NCC commander for the year was : Samim Kumar Dey
The school captain addressed the school.
The senior school boys took part in the NCC parade, the junior school boys sang a patriotic song written and composed by Mr. Micheal Dutta, whereas the Primary school boys did the Cubs Salute.
This was followed by the various second language concerts with a patriotic theme to pay tribute to freedom fighters.
On the 5th of September (Teachers Day), the different classes put together a variety entertainment for the all teachers of the school in the school auditorium.
The sporting season saw the Marathon Finals with Lawrence clinching the Marathon Trophy followed by Hastings in second place, Havelock and Clive in 3rd and 4th respectively.