Darjeeling Government College
Our Teachers we owe to
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
It was on Guru Purnima last month that I was with my wife Ranjana to visit and pay respects to the teacher who taught me Nepali language and literature - Bhai Chand Pradhan at his residence. I had a copy of the local Nepali news-daily Samay Dainik that carried that day my article Sir Tashi Namgyal High School now Tashi Namgyal Academy - Our Teachers we owe to with a recent picture of mine with him. Coming from Banaras I had failed in Class VI (1956) due to my poor Nepali and my Sanu Mama Mohan Pratap Pradhan* had requested him to visit our residence at Dak Bunglow (now All India Radio Station) and tutor me in the evening. As the result I could be in Class VII next year. He thus opened avenues for my academic progress securing 7th position in Class VII, 5th in Class VIII, 3rd in Class IX and to pass out the School Final Examination/Matriculation in high second division in 1962. We found him with a leg swollen as a car hit him while he was out for his evening walk nearby and escaped major injury. Yet he was as cheerful as always to accept our warm greetings for a healthy and long life with his ever familiar smile.
It was August 1962 that I was in the precincts of the Darjeeling Government College admitted for Pre-University Course with Science subjects. We had Prof. Tulasi Bahadur Chettri* and Prof. Babu Lall Pradhan* to us Nepali. Young hearts or fault of adolescence, it was but natural for us to be more for fun enjoying the independent college life offered. For our Nepali class students of both the arts and science streams would converge in Room No. 15 or Gallery and responding to the roll call by the teacher engrossed in recording the attendance some of our friends used to escape from the door in the rear. Consequently only 17 of the 51 students could clear and I was amongst the fortunate five successful from Sikkim – others were Tashi Yangzum, Tsering Donka, Tanka Ram Sharma and Ongchen Lucksom. Tulasi Sir later became the Superintendent of the Bellevue Hostel but by that time I had moved out to a paying guest accommodation near the Sharadeshwari Girls’ School on the Hermitage Road. I had met Babu Lall Sir once when visiting his son and my classmate Prem at his residence in Darjeeling. He was in touch with me writing letters for his dictionary and other books which we had in the newly opened Rachna Books thus of some service to our Guru. I remember meeting Tulasi Sir while in Gangtok promoting the Nepali news-daily Himali Abha, which we supported and subscribed in support of his efforts for the cause of Nepali language and literature and had it too in our news-stall in initial days of Rachna Books.
A year wasted, I was back to the Darjeeling Government College admitted for B. Sc. with Zoology Honours course that kept me away from English or Nepali as subjects to study. Otherwise Mrs. Ghoshal taught us English and we must bring our text book in her class. Dr. H. N. Ray was with us once as external examiner and the Post Graduate Students Association had the rare opportunity to felicitate him and his student who was none other than my Guru Dr. B. Dasgupta (Picture 1). Dr. Dasgupta had a numbers of research works done to fetch him numerous doctorate degrees. He was the Head of Department holding the additional charge of the Principal in 1964. That year my friends made me their candidate to contest for the election to represent them in the Students Union. Having been elected I was included in the Editorial Board as the Assistant Editor for the annual magazine Pines and Camellias while Karna Bahadur Chettri a Economics Honours Final Year student was the Editor. Head of Department Economics Prof. P. K. Ghosh was also the officer-in-charge of the NCC and was popular amongst the students. Soon after the election one fine morning Dr. Dasgupta summoned me to the Principal’s chamber and asked me whether I was there for participating in the Union politics or was sent by parents for studying with Honours subject. I replied that I was there to study. To this, he said that studying with Honours subject was not an easy task and I should better divert and devote my mind more towards it. Around that time I had known almost 90 percent of the students which later at the end of M.Sc. studies in 1969 was drastically reduced and was not even 10 percent. Soon after my graduation I was in Birgunj working for a while as a teacher in Maisthan Vidyapeeth, where I could write a book Saral Jiva Vigyan. I paid rich tribute to my Guru Dr. B. Dasgupta for his timely guidance to lead me to the right path. He visited Gangtok once probably in 1984-85 as the State Guest and I recollect of the opportunity we had to welcome and felicitate him in the dinner hosted in his honour.
We had been studying right from Pre University Course till our M. Sc. in the same College and we were in the last year towards the fag end of our studies. A thought had been harbouring in my mind for quite some time past. One day when we were having our tea, I shared it with my friends Prem Chand Pradhan and Desh Ratna Subba (both doing their master in Botany) that time is nearing for us to leave the ramparts of the College and wish we could contribute something outstanding. We decided that it would be fair enough if the Post Graduate students also get their representation distinct in the College Union. It was difficult convincing the Principal Dr. B. Dasgupta that led us to some unrest but after a struggle hard and running here and there we could get such a provision finally incorporated in the constitution. The Principal being the ex-officio Chairman of the students’ council, the Vice Chairman would be from amongst the Post Graduate students and Surendra Kumar Pradhan was the first student to become so.
Dr. H. C. Ganguly was the Head of the Department Botany and also the co-author of our text book College Botany. Gambhir Singh Yonzone, who also studied there joined as our lecturer in 1966, had taken us for a botanical excursion to Majhitar (Picture 3 and 4). I had organized a meet of the Science fraternity from Sikkim and Darjeeling Himalayas under the auspices of the State Council of Science and Technology for Sikkim in 2001 when our school teacher P. B. Chakravarty* along with Dr. Yonzone and others were felicitated by the Chief Minister in the capital. It was magnanimous of Pawan Chamling, who elated expressed in his address that when he finds himself in the company of learned scientists on a rare occasion like this, he feels himself amidst the God. Earlier, I had the rare opportunity to get my book Vikasko Goreto : Grameen Proudyogiki (2001) launched by him in a simple function at the Nepali Sahitya Sammelan, Darjeeling. Dr. Yonzone also graced the function along with other literary luminaries when our publication Sharad Chettri Smritigranth (2013) was launched by Banga Ratna Krishna Singh Moktan there.
In my article in tribute Darjeeling Sarkari College _ Ek Swarnim Yug carried by the souvenir Darjeeling Sarkari Mahavidyalay – Sthapanako Ardhashatabdi brought out on the occasion of 50 years of our alma mater, I had mentioned it that though the College was celebrating its Golden Jubilee in 1998, its Golden Era in the real sense was during the 1960s when we were the student there and had excelled in various fields bringing glory. I also reiterated that in spite of the several difficult period and problems, the especiality of this College was that it always overcame them all and provided best opportunities to its students to develop their multi-faceted talents as the institute itself continued its journey onwards ever forward. The credit goes to its Principal, teachers and many employees in their support. This Institute fulfilled many of the hopes and aspirations of the hill people and also of many from the plains and still continues to do so undoubtedly. In the field as varied as literature and music, art and culture, films and dramatics, education and social service, sports and entertainment, engineering and architecture, administration, army, police and politics students passed out from here have earned a name and fame for themselves, society, state and the nation not only in the country but also back in the neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhutan. Students who excelled in their respective fields are Bang-Ratna Krishna Singh Moktan, Swar-Samragyi Aruna Lama*, maestro Gopal Yonjan*, Chief Minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari, Chief Secretary of Sikkim Purna Kumar Pradhan and in Andhra Pradesh Trilok Kumar Dewan, secretaries, actors, politicians, orators, lawyers, litterateurs, educationists, historians, principals, ministers, parliamentarians, legislators, etc. I regret my inability to elucidate further giving the names of all who excelled thus due lack of time and space here.
Since my early days in 1962 Dr. B. Dasgupta was the Professor and Head of Department for seven years until he assumed the chair of Principal in 1968 for over two decades (1968-1972 and 1977-1993) thus served the longest period of 27 years yet unparalleled there. It was during his long tenure that the College saw many epoch making landmark decisions that brought in various facilities and manifold improvements that added multiple dimensions to the institute. It would not be an exaggeration to state here that whatever the College is today it is due to his remarkable and outstanding contribution beyond any comparison that sought the status of a Deemed University in the past now emerging loud for a full-fledged University that we come across in the press.
To conclude, I on my own behalf and on behalf of all the students (with their due permission) bow in respect to offer in tribute to this holy temple of learning and to Dr. B. Dasgupta and all the teachers who served and are serving dedicated upholding the dignity of the Institute on the solemn occasion of the Teacher’s Day expressing our gratefulness as ever and wish Darjeeling Government College continued progress and all round development further excelling in all the field to bring home more laurels and glory to our alma mater.
Disclaimer: It is my personal account and a sincere attempt to document the events and places in and around me often on detour here and there. Some names with asterisk * are for those no more amidst us. Nepali version of this write-up is also available. Any comment is welcome and may be addressed to me at Rachna, Opposite Manan Bhavan, Development Area, Gangtok 737 101 Sikkim phone 94340 22677 / 03592 202677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org