Saturday, August 01, 2009

Lokmanya Tilak & New English School, Bandra

From the class third till the eleventh, I studied at the New English School, Bandra. The name English remained only for the namesake, everything else in the School was Marathi, including the teaching of English language.

In those eight years, this school underwent a physical transformation from tin roof to asbestos one with a another roof top structure came next to the first one. What remained unchanged was a brass bell whose frequency of tolls would announce different events and the calender day of August 1st - birthday of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. This day was commemorated, year after year , with only one agenda - that of public speaking competition.

Every year, select students would participate in classroom speaking competition on Lokmanya Tilak and they covered four aspects of his life. ' Swarajya maza janmasiddha hakka ahe'(freedom is my birthright) , I won't take a beating for a crime that I didn't do (incident of groundnut eating and making classroom a mess) , his publishing kesri newspaper , writing Gita Rahasya- a commentary on Bhagvad Geeta and starting public celebration of Shivjayanti and Ganeshostava. The order of these points would shuffle but what didn't change was the same faces of public speakers and the order of the winning candidates. My involvement as a back bencher remained only to the clapping.

Last month, while evaluating the business feasibility of a new venture in India on the manufacturing of pharmaceutical Glass tubing and ampoules , I bumped on to one more aspect of Lokmanya Tilak that is as exemplary as the other fours that my classmates had drilled . India's first glass factory, in Talegaon near Pune was set up by Lokmanya Tilak in 1908. This plant was financed by collecting one paisa per family per month from the masses and was named as PAISA FUND GLASS WORKS. It seems that this plant continues to be in production. I wonder if Eagle Glass has any connection with this. Mr. Ishwar Das Varshnei, a chemical engineer from MIT , an ardent student of glass manufacturing came in contact with Lokmanya Tilak and this led to establishing of Paisa Fund Glass Works. Students of the Samarth Vidyalaya, an institute associated with Lokmanya Tilak , were trained in glass manufacturing and set up other glass factories around the nation.

Aniruddha (Raju) Dhongade, a brilliant student and my school classmate, thrived every year , while extolling the glories of Lokmanya Tilak in his audacious oratory style. He won best public speaker trophy, year after year , on August 1st. I wonder if he still has in Indonesia , all those winner's gifts and trophies.

I would be curious to visit New English School on August 1st and see if the tradition of Public speaking competition is still in practise.

P.S.: Akshta listened intently to my narration of the Tilak's classroom story. When the story was over, her first immediate response was 'mazya kappaila Tila'

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Anonymous Yogesh Ambekar said...

Your blog took me to Our August 1's and Oct 2's.... tradition was continued in our decade also.
Yogesh Ambekar
1984 Batch
New English School, Bandra

8:53 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

Raju Dhongde always reminded me Australian left arm spinner Murray Bennet. We all used to play cricket in government colony bandra with Sanju Gajre, Milind Gunaji, Babu Sawant and Raju.........
Dhananjay Kandharkar

6:17 PM  

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