Though just 12 of them, but girls in Doon School

DoonSchool DehradunDehra Dun: The three-day 77th Founders’ Day celebrations of the Doon School will culminate with Vice President, Hamid Ansari addressing the students and the large gathering of parents, teachers and guests, later this evening, bringing the renowned boarding school of the country, an year closer to its 100th year, which will be celebrated in 2035.

It was in 1935 that an advocate of Calcutta, Satish Ranjan Dass, laid the foundation of the school, on land which was then owned by the Forest Research Institute (FRI). Little perhaps did he know then that the foundation that he was laying would be of the school that would command a name for itself among schools not only in India, but the world.

Though its buildings reflect of the colonial past, but the focus of the school has been on the complete education and upbringing of its students and not academics alone. The various mountaineering and trekking expeditions, the open fields and the fear of the yellow card are still in vogue and the open air theater venue to some scintillating plays by theater luminaries.

It is no wonder that some of the names that have walked down its portals wearing the school tie include former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, his son Rahul Gandhi, union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, renowned writers Vikram Seth and Amitabh Ghosh, first Olympic gold medalist in an individual event, Abhinav Bindra, Punjab politician Manpreet Singh Badal, and cine actor Chandrachud Singh.

The Golden Jubilee of the school was held in 1985, with Gulab Ramchandani as the school headmaster. Rajiv Gandhi, who also happened to be an old student of the school, was the chief guest being the Prime Minister. Much to the delight of the Doscoes, he came wearing the school blazer, tie and grey flannels, the school uniform that he had worn almost every day when in school.

But a piquant situation arose when in the school auditorium he went to the dais from where he was to address the gathering. Seated on the dais was Mr Martyn, the old headmaster of the school, when Rajiv was a student. Old time school discipline came in the say of his sitting down next to his old headmaster and it was only on the intervention of Mr Martyn, that he took his chair.

The Platinum Jubilee of the school was celebrated in 2010, and the then President, Pratibha Patil came as the chief guest. Doscoes keenly look forward to the centenary celebrations and though many of them may no longer be there, but they will fervently wish that they are there, if not in letter than at least in spirit.

Incidentally, the Doon School has always been a boys alone school and the daughters of the staff in a quid pro quo arrangement, were admitted in the Welhams Girls School. But on continued demand and pressure by the staff, the headmaster yielded to admit the daughters of the staff in the school. So the Doon School has opened its portals to girls, albeit limitedly and there are 12 girls now studying in what was earlier a purely male bastion.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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