Navayug School - yaadein
Sh. Jiwan Nath Dar
13.04.1904 - 10.07.1989
Early days and life thereon
Sh. Jiwan Nath Dar was born in Lahore (now in Pakistan) on Wednesday, the 13th February 1904, adopted and brought up by Maharajpati, the widowed 19 year old grand-daughter of Raja Dina Nath Madan, the Ex-Chief Minister of Punjab, under the regime of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. His fiercely independent and self-respecting mother instilled in the young Jiwan Nath Dar a high degree of freedom within well laid down parameters of discipline. The mother-son duo were ardent followers of Mahatma Gandhi. Jiwan Nath Dar started his schooling in Lahore. Unable to cope-up with the murky domestic politics of Raja Dina Nath's haveli in Lahore, the duo moved to lucknow in early twenties, where he finished his schools and joined Christian College, but finally migrated to the newly founded S.D. college of Commerce, an institution with nationalistic flavour and thus much to the liking of the mother-son duo. A keen student of Geography, he went on to become a lecturer in the same college, upon his graduation, but left it very soon as he found the profession to be dull and a little too academic. He married Kamala Dar and was blessed with a daughter and two sons Bharat Dar (known later on as Amar Nath Dar) and Kailash Nath Dar, both of whom followed the foot prints of their worthy father to become eminent educationists.
As Educationist- His philosophy on Education
Jiwan Nath Dar and his mother stood for genuine human equality and upliftment of the under privileged. They both firmly believed that through ones efforts one could overcome the most severe handicaps. His lecturer's job didn't offer him much of an opportunity to work on young and tender children, which he resigned to join Modern School Delhi, where he worked for about 3 years (1928-31). When Modern School was shifted from Dariya Ganj to Barakhamba Road, he along with the other teachers and the students carried a brick each from Dariya Ganj to Barakhamba Road to lay the new building foundations. He enjoyed the curriculum of Modern School & made an impact on the school. He soon realized that education of the under privileged in a palpably Indian setting was to be the mission of his life, so he went on to found Vidya Bhawan, Udaipur, where he accepted a job at 50% of the salary at Modern School. He was joined there by Dr. Zakir Hussain and Dr. K.L. Srimali.
When his daughter was born, his mother told him to temper his romance for educating the under privileged with earning enough for his family's needs, so he joined the Doon School. He liked the training & the program which the school offered to its students, but not being allowed to keep his mother with him on the campus made him unhappy, so he joined The Scindia School Gwalior. In 1956 he took over as the Principal of the iconic Netarhat School, where admissions were made purely on merit & the fees were paid as per a student's family income. The school paid higher salaries than colleges. It was able to collect a distinguished faculty & attain high academic standards. Today,probably no other school has as many students in the Civil Services as Netarhat. He resigned his job at Netarhat as he was unwilling to give admission to a minister's relative who had not made the grade in the entrance test. Then he joined Vikas. He led a retired life thereafter.
In the silver Jubilee year of the country's independence, the NDMC wanted to make a gift to its citizens in New Delhi. After due consideration over various options, the administrators (Mr. Yusuf zayi, Mrs. Gujral, Mrs. Sheela Pant and Mrs Vidya Ben Shah, together with Mrs. Uma Prasad, the wife of the then Lt. Governor, Delhi) decided to gift New Delhi with a school for the gifted children, which was similar in its flavour to Netarhat. When it came to appointing the Principal for the school, Mrs. Uma Prasad insisted on appointing Sh. J.N. Dar, who could be located with a great difficulty with his old colleague and friend Dr. K.L. Srimali, the then VC of BHU. Sh. Dar agreed to accept the assignment on 3 conditions, viz. he won't appear for an interview, would accept a consolidated salary of Rs. 1800 p.m. without any increment thereon, and Hindi as the medium of instruction. He ran Navayug School for 4 years (1973-1977).
He loved school teaching, as it offered an opportunity to mould the raw promising students into perfect citizens of tomorrow. There too, he would prefer working with underprivileged students from the poorer sections of the society. He believed that every child could possibly reach the zenith of mankind provided he/she was presented with right kind of environment best suited to realize his/her potential. Sh. Dar believed in over-all growth of his students, and therefore, he never insisted on learning by rote. Instead he would want his students to be inquisitive, to reason out the things and ask questions. Sh. Dar believed that questioning is the structure for the building and thinking leads to questioning. It is hence essential to encourage questioning, if we wanted our students to think and reflect. He also laid a lot of emphasis on situational learning. For instance when Pokharan nuclear explosion was carried out in 1975, it despite being the vacations, he convened an assembly of about 200 students and asked Mr. Suraj Prakash, the Physics teacher to rush to the school and explain as to how a nuclear explosion takes place. He was always on the lookout for imparting situational learning to his students.
He taught biology at Doon School, while Geography remained his subject of specialization. While teaching Geography, he would ask his students to close their eyes and imagine as if they were right there amid the location being described in their geography lesson. He would tell his science teachers to ask the students to find out real life associations to what was being taught in their science lessons. When the students co-relate scientific phenomenon with real life situations, it becomes easier for them to understand and learn the fundamentals of science, he believed. His school labs were equipped with the best of the equipment available.
He was a great champion of Hindi, but always insisted that his students spoke English on the play field and in the dining hall, as it was to become a medium of higher education in their lives later on. He would hold long assemblies, a big part of which was spent on correcting his students' pronunciation. He wanted his students to develop a flair for creative writing, develop command over oratory skills, walk and sit straight, play outdoor games, respect all religious and linguistic communities, assimilate in varied cultures, adapt to all types of environments and work in a cohesive manner.
Languages, Maths, Science, Home Science, Humanities, Music and Dance, Dramatics, Sports, P.T. and Parade, Elocutions, Debates, all were a must for his students, which were all aimed at ensuring a balanced personality growth.
He professed and practiced collaborative learning, i.e. linking one subject to the other, rather than treating it as an alien and disassociated discipline of learning. He would encourage the teachers of different subjects to sit together and discuss among themselves as to how their subjects can be linked and collaborated with each other.
As he chose to work with students hailing from underprivileged families, he ensured that the teachers spent maximum time with their pupils and played as their perfect role models, enabling them to emulate their teachers and imbibe the best of the traits in their personalities. He took keen interest in each child and would discuss at length with the teachers about the development and growth of each and every child. He would stay on the campus itself, which allowed him to sit late in his office, mark the notebooks of the students (detained for completing their home-work), check their correction work and guide them as and when required. He won't hesitate in relocating his students to his own quarters, if there were problems with their (the students) families.
His philosophy and ideology of a wholesome education can best be put in his own words, as under-
Every Child should be physically fit, mentally alert, forward looking who could adopt and adept in fast changing technological era.
A true Leader and Motivator
Sh. Jiwan Nath Dar was a true leader and motivator. Given an opportunity, he would pick up young and promising teachers available in various institutions. He would nurture and groom his teachers who would eventually be taking up the task of bringing out the best in his young students. At times, the teachers would feel annoyed and over-worked. Sh. Dar would call upon such teachers and enlighten them on the real purpose and motive of education.
He motivated not only the students, but also his fellow teachers. He would invite his old, retired colleagues to teach at the newly started schools, primarily to demonstrate before the younger faculty as to how a seasoned teacher teaches and thereby make them learn the skills of teaching. Sh. Mathur the Maths teacher at Navayug and Sh. Bose, the English teacher, the veterans from Modern School were invited by him for this very purpose. There were occasions when the teachers committed small mistakes like awarding physical punishment to a student and thereby hurting him, and were consequently about to be suspended or terminated . On such occasions, he would stand for the cause of the teachers and own full responsibility of any such mishap. He would encourage his teachers to be in constant touch with all the students, seek reports from them and offer remedies on one to one basis.
He would be at side of the playground whenever a match was being played and buck up his students. Be it a victory or defeat, he always motivated them to exhibit a true sportsmen spirit and play for the glory of the game, but try to give out their best at the same time. He ensured that the teachers and students, both participated in the games and sports. He himself would lead the teachers’ team in the teachers versus students’ game, even at the ripe age of 70. This indeed was a great gesture and testimony to his leadership and motivational role.
Some of his students would come from very humble backgrounds. He would try and find out various ways and means to boost their self-esteem. For instance, if someone's mother swept the floors in a hospital, he would tell that student to ask his mother if she could arrange for admission of a patient using her influence. This was aimed at enhancing the self-esteem of the student concerned.
He tried to find out the best traits and potential areas of each student and motivate him/her in that direction. The same school could therefore, nurture and groom artists, sports persons and singers on one side, while science students, CA aspirants, medical students, prospective Civil servants, Police Officers and Armed forces officers on the other. He also helped his teachers and office staff to grow and attain their potential. Under his guidance and motivation, one of his PAs in Netarhat made it to the coveted Civil Services, while a fourth class employee became a class one officer. He encouraged his teachers to go for higher qualifications and take up assignments at NCERT, AIR etc. Khadim se Maqdoom ban jaaoge- he would motivate his students by telling this.
As Manager and Administrator
Though a teacher at heart, he relished being a manager and administrator as well. He had been instrumental in laying down the foundation stones of several schools of standing in the country. He had worked in the best institutions of his times viz. the Modern School, the Scindia School, Netarhar Vidyalaya etc. These were not mere day schools but also had a boarding facility, which demanded a 24x7x365 attention from their managers and administrators. The students came from varied backgrounds, and depended almost wholly on the school for all their requirements, besides education. Mr. Dar would look into the details of each and every aspect incidental thereto. He would delegate several tasks to the respective managers, house masters and his respective team members, but would also keep a tap on everything.
All departments of the schools were allowed desired amount of freedom and autonomy but Sh. Dar would review their functioning from time to time, and ensure that everything is carried out in a proper manner. For instance, teachers would take turns to observe what is happening in the dining hall and jot down their observations in a register meant for the purpose, which they would eventually discuss with Sh. Dar and carry out remedial exercises, if so warranted.
Sh. Dar believed in participatory management and thereby had a first-hand feel of the activities taking place in all areas of his jurisdiction. He was open to suggestions from the staff as well as the students. He had immense patience and respect for all kinds of colleagues that he worked with.
When Navayug was set up, he insisted to stay on the campus itself, so that he could manage the school in a more efficient manner. This meant a lot of inconvenience to his family and they had to live in a class room partitioned with Mrs. Dar's Saris. There were no separate toilets for the family and they had to share the common toilet with the ladies/girl students. This, however didn't deter him from his decision.
Mr. Dar and Values System
Sh. Dar was a Gandhian in the core of his heart. He believed in dignity of labour and would pay due respect to everybody in his vicinity. Once when at Netarhat, he along with his family, was going to attend a function in his van. He saw some elderly women who were also going to the same function. He asked his sons to get down and make room for the elderly women. Such was his concern for the poor, the women and the elderly.
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 his elder son to help him cross the river in his rubber dingy. He wanted his students to tell a truth at any cost. But there were occasions when the students would try to hide things and tell a lie. Patiently, he would ask them repeated questions just to ensure that eventually they cough out the truth.
He believed in austerity and limited his requirements to the minimum and thus ensured that he didn't have to rush after money. This he also preached his students in his morning assemblies. He didn't mind wearing old worn out clothes, as long as they were sewn, washed and folded properly.
He wanted his teachers to respect the parents of the students, how so ever poor or shabby they were, so that the students didn't feel let down by their parents and continued to respect them. This meant an equal treatment to everybody, at times, at the cost of the teachers' own self-esteem and self-respect. Mr. Dar would sacrifice the latter for the former, in the larger interest of his students.
In his opinion, everybody deserved to be respected. He would never take anyone for granted. For instance, one of his former students. Mr. Hari Dang became the principal of Airforce School, Subrato Park. But when Sh. Dar wanted to see him, he took a proper appointment from Mr. Dang and reached his office only at the appointed time.
He had prescribed half pants and skirts for his students’ right up to class XII. This was meant at developing in the young students a physical resistance against the extremes of the summers as well as the winters. He opined that only one game, i.e. Cricket was played in pyjamas, while players in all other games put on half pants, hence there was no reason as to why grown up students should feel embarrassed dawning such uniforms.
Sh. Dar was a believer but never did he force any of his students to follow any particular religion. He, however, made it a point to enlighten the students on all religions and made them recite prayers from all sects and religions. Before each meal, the entire school community would recite loudly a prayer composed by a student only and thereafter Sh. Dar would chant om shanti- shanti- shanti- to mark the end of the prayer. In morning assemblies also he would invariably chant this mantra. The food prayer was a kind of thanks-giving to the god and a wish that everybody on the earth got at least what the students were getting to eat. Such was the sense of equity that Sh. Dar imbibed in his students.
He believed in sharing his privileges. Therefore, if he ever found any student thronging on the food, he would call an assembly and cite examples from the jungles of Africa, where, as per him, even the uncivilized jungle-men came out of their huts, before each meal, and shouted loudly to invite for food, if anybody was hungry in their vicinity.
He was dead against wasting any food item, including salt. He would tell that salt, if wasted, will have to be collected with one's eyelids in the heaven. He had a strict watch on the students' plates, when they had finished their food. He would pick up pieces of uneaten salad from the floor, wash them up and consume. He would not preach but practice what he told. This had a lasting impact on his young students.
Sh. Dar was a man of character and wouldn't give up to any pressures. He won't yield to any temptations either. His younger son fell short of a couple of days for the eligibility age for admission in the Netarhat. He didn't tamper with the rules to give him admission in an improper manner. When a politician tried to pressurize him for an ineligible student's admission in Netarhat, Sh. Dar preferred putting down his papers instead of yielding to such pressure. When Navayug was to open, many officials in NDMC tried to push their relatives into jobs thus being generated, but Sh. Dar didn't budge and went by merits of the candidates. Such was his value system.
Mr Dar as a Role Model
Mr. Dar played a perfect role model to his students. He knew that the young students are very keen observers and would emulate their teachers in all respects. Most of the schools where Sh. Dar taught, were either day boarding or boarding schools. Therefore, the teachers were to play not only as class teacher or the subject teacher, but also mentors and house masters. In such arrangements, the only adults in the vicinity of the students were either their teachers or the school's administrative staff. If such adults didn't play as proper role models, the students were likely to develop improper personalities and suffer the same shortcomings that the illiterate and uneducated masses suffered, thereby defeating the very purpose of education.
Gifted but disadvantaged sections of students that Sh. Dar had chosen to work with, used to be initially marred with another peculiar problem. They came from economically poorer sections of the society, the parents wherein had in all likelihood their own inherent problems and could thus, certainly not play as ideal role models to their growing kids. It was therefore, essential for their teachers to double up as teachers as well as perfect or near-perfect role models.
Sh. Dar was a role model not only for his young students, but also for the newly recruited teachers, who had no exposure to a wholesome quality education. His impact was manifested not only on his staff but also on his two sons who also took to the noble profession of teaching. This in itself is a testimony to the great influence he had on the generation immediately next to him and the ones following them.
He walked straight, sat straight, played field games with his students, depicted a true sportsman spirit, spoke loudly and distinctly enough to be heard by the boys and girls sitting in the last row of an assembly of eight hundred and odd students. He was a brave man, capable of facing all odds that life ever offered him. He stood by his ideals and didn't budge a bit from his principles. He, in the capacity of a teacher and a principal thereafter, was assigned with the task of grooming young boys and girls that would prove to be ideal citizens of the country, capable of steering it to the newer horizons of modern living.
But for him, several thousands of young men and women in this country would have failed to realize their potential and the country would have been deprived of the contribution they eventually made to the development and growth of their mother land. Alumni from each school that Sh. Dar headed joins hands to pay him rich tributes in the deepest sense of gratitude.
Sh. Dar passed away on Monday, the 10th of July, 1989, leaving behind a legacy of which Navayug School (N.Delhi), Netar hat (Jharkhand) Vidya Bhavan (Udaipur) and Gyan Mandir (Patna) are the a blazing stars, and a galaxy of bright students who continue to glitter across the globe.
(Based on inputs received from Sh. J.N. Dar's two sons- Sh. Sh. A.N. Dar (also known as Sh. Bharat Dar) and Sh. Kailash Nath Dar and interview with Sh. Suraj Prakash, Physics teacher, Navayug School, I Avenue, Sarojini Nagar, N.Delhi)
Memories of Mr Dar from his son, Mr K N Dar