J. N. Dar – The Man
Mr. Amar Nath Dar remembers his father (Late) Mr. J N Dar
J. N. Dar was more than just my father: He was also my teacher of Geography, my housemaster in the Scindia School, and also my supporter on the games field during the matches. Wherever he taught, I found him trusted, respected and loved by the parents-students-colleagues and staff genuinely in ample measure, not so much for his designation but as an individual. Had it not been so, I would never have myself become a schoolmaster. Respect for him verging on reverence was almost universal both in the profession as also within the family. Everyone found him simple, honest, diligent and caring. There was nothing artificial around him even in dealings at home. As a result, he was my inspiration, and with time, my mentor. I loved him, trusted him, respected him and admired him.
I found him in love with his work: The role of a nurturer what we seem to call today ‘pastoral care’ came naturally to him. Modern world has come up with many terms and terminology as also analysis of every thought and action. But my father lived much of it through his beliefs and actions. There were no gaps in these areas in him. What he thought, he believed in; what he believed in, he said; and what he said, he delivered. He himself extended due courtesy, respect and trust to all in equal measure. For him, a dignitary was no different from the lowest of his workers. He respected life and not positions of people – or even the designation. I have often wondered how he would have fared in this world where manipulations, competition and awards seem to be the order of the day.
Surprisingly, I did not find him badmouthing anybody, even in private at home, or bear any no grudges to anyone. He would be generous and forgiving even to the ones who might have deliberately tried to harm him. He loved to see his colleagues rise just as his PA at Netarhat had joined the Civil Service and his Bursar went on to become the Finance officer of Ranchi University. As a principal, I never found him hesitate to make a courtesy call on his colleagues - even clerks and parents – without any ego or ulterior motive. All this came so naturally to him. Despite this easy connectivity – not familiarity – I did not see him seek any advantage from people or show any favours to them.
I have often wondered how he would have fared in the world of today! He had no trappings of designation. I was so happy when he became the Principal at Netarhat as we would then were to have a car and a phone and a peon! Very soon on assuming charge at Netarhat, however, as we were driving to the main building for a function, he saw some ladies walking hurriedly to the venue. My father stopped the van and asked me to get down so that the ladies could get in. I did crib then at home but I also got the message that I was young and could walk, but these ladies had to be helped. Moreover, for him school came first and then the family. Actually, there were no barriers between home and school. In Navyug, we found him happily sitting in the office till late so as to know that all the students had reached home safely. His lunch could wait!
A devoted son, an understanding husband and a kind father, he was looked up to by all his cousins, nephews and nieces and uncles and aunts. Consequently, for part of his life, despite financial strains for a schoolmaster, some of our cousins even stayed with us for their education. But my father, my mother and grandmother carried these responsibilities without a murmur.
His Geography lessons were great fun. Though not an artist nor a mathematician, he would draw a sphere on the blackboard in one movement only which amused his students a great deal. Sometimes, to excite our imagination, he would ask us to close our eyes and imagine the scene on the Savannas or the Equatorial forests. Yes, we did try to bring before our eyes, the landscape and the animals in those lands before our eyes. Around the Founder’s Day time, he urged us to prepare informative and attractive charts for the exhibition, and to do so, we would go late into the night.
In his enthusiasm and diligence, he was no different during my matches. Going up and down the side lines, he would out cheer the opposition with his full throated “buck up,… come on”. During the half time, if our team was on the losing side, he would tell us not to let another goal be scored in the next half. And it did work. For him, it never seemed to matter whether we were winning or losing. What mattered was our sincere effort and playing within the rules of the game. “Be sporting!” he would say.
He had tremendous physical and moral courage. He was willing to expose himself to any danger for the safety of his students. In Netarhat, he was informed that a student had run away from the school. He immediately got into the Mercedez Benz truck and asked me to help him cross the river in my rubber dingy.
I remember with joy, how, dressed in an angarkha and topi, he would take part in a Quwaali session during an entertainment put up for the boys in the open air theatre at Scindia. Being the grandson of Ratan Nath Sarshar, he was no doubt at ease with Urdu and would deliver the lines energetically and eloquently, even breaking into a dance, such as would bring the house down. On occasions, some student would stage an imitation of his for the entertainments at which he and my mother would laugh. I, too, enjoyed these take offs on him. Sometimes, for the House Evenings, he would narrate interesting stories and his discourses for Astachal (Evening meditation) were no different: They were not so much for morals but he would make us think. How can you have morals if you can’t think?
My younger brother was just a couple of days short of the eligibility date for entrance to Netarhat Vidyalaya. My father overlooked the appeals from my mother to my father that he should overlook this gap. I am proud that my father had the courage to ingore the appeals of my mother.
These days we have been having lot of media noise about school education and banking, village development, etc. At the Scindia School, he was responsible in the early 40’s only, with one or two of his colleagues, for initiating Adult Literacy classes (Students taught servants at least to sign their names), a Cooperative Bank each for the teachers and other staff, a Ladies’ Club, Social Service (Community Service) and even Village Development work in a village some kilometers away from the school without any barriers of religion, caste or creed or even political affiliation.
I was rather critical of many of my teachers at Scindia and even my Principal. I was in class VI when my father said,” What is the point of cribbing every day? You become a teacher and the principal at Scindia!” So, this challenge and my reverence for my father made me a school master. Thank God that I did so! It has been such a rewarding life.
Some Old Students and Old Colleagues have remarked more than once that they wonder why Mr. J.N. Dar was never felicitated by the government. Made as he was, that mattered the least for him. He had his rewards: With the help of his colleagues, support of his students and their parents – and the trust of the government – he created wonderful institutions like Netarhat Vidyalaya (Bihar and now Jharkhand), Navyug School and Gyan Niketan (Patna), that have always been the real need of the country.
Mr. Amar Nath Dar
The only Old Boy of the Scindia School to head his Alma mater, he also won the Cariappa Shield as The Best All Rounder in his final year and in 2009 the School conferred upon him the annual Madhav Award for an Old Boy of Eminence for his contribution to education. As a schoolboy he was called upon to represent his state at the football nationals, and later on to play cricket for his university. He is also a topper of his university in Masters for English.
At The Doon School, he handled a plethora of responsibilities including housemastership and Dean of Activities and climbed up to 21,200 feet in the Garhwal Himalayas, acted in a movie and was the Chief Examiner for ICSE for the English Language Paper.
He has worked in several schools round the country as the principal, director and chief mentor and is the Chief Mentor today at DPS – Greater Faridabad.