Hi Web-surfing Stephanians,
Before going on to tell you a bit about the JCR and its workings in 1961-62 I thought I would give you some info about a couple of Stephanians from my time - the brothers 63ers Roshan and Aftab Seth. Both are gentlemen. I am happy that both have done well in the world - Roshan in acting and Aftab, well he has just released a book of poems "Pillars of a Landscape" published by Ravi Dayal Publishers.
This hardback edition is well illustrated by Anandjit Ray. The book contains 29 poems in the 55 pages. The price is very very reasonable at Rs. 85 (hardly the cost of a packet of fags in Finland -which is Rs. 140). The book is well worth it for your special bookshelf for Stephanian authors (and now a plug - as also my two books "Handbook for Survival in Finland" and "Seven Years Hard Labour in a Finnish Holiday Camp - A Finnish University". :-)) And do not forget the book by Arun Shourie that I wrote about a couple of issues ago.
Can anyone give me a list of other Stephanian authors so we can prepare a master list?
I am not going to tell you about the book of poems but a brief introduction to the Seth brothers. They were great actors. They were extremely friendly to everyone. I do not think that in my time I ever saw either of them frowning in real life. They were, however, superb in their use of expressions on the stage, especially the production of King Lear (1962-63). There was never any show or artificiality about them in their day-to-day communications. I think they were Doscoites, but to this I cannot swear.
The first time I saw Roshan after leaving college was in one of those Z-car type TV serials in England in the mid-sixties. I think he must have been one of the earliest Stephanians to have got a break in that British media. Of course his role in Gandhi is well known, but not being a movie follower I do not know much more about his film career. Maybe someone of you can fill us in!
And now about the JCR - 1961-62. As I mentioned it was about the dullest thing in college. As soon as I got elected we formed an action committee consisting mainly of second year students. (We had a couple of third year students on the Committee and one I remember was 62er Sarwar Lateef - I wonder where he has got to?) We prepared a plan. It was great but it looked expensive as the wants were a stereo gramphanoe set, a better radio, lights and a new table tennis table, carrom boards, chess sets, card tables for bridge. It was my task to convince Principal Sircar and the Staff Member on the Committee Vice Principal Shanklin (if I remember his name correctly as I seem to remember a d at the end of his name).
Surprisingly, at the Sunday morning breakfast when I put the case to Principal Sircar, he understood the issue and organised the funds almost immediately. Even before the end of the first quarter we had a JCR with great equipment and even the Table Tennis competition between the college and others was hosted in the JCR. We had a couple of very good players and I especially remember 62er Kishen Mubai in one dramatic encouter in a packed JCR.
Not satisfied with this level of success, the Committee then decided we would organise competitions for the residents. Chess, draughts, bridge and table tennis were held and were extremely successful. I reached to the final of the bridge competition with Ajay Verma as my partner, only to lose to the twins 63ers Suraj and Chander Rai (great squash players) on the very last hand with some superb bidding on their part - a virtually uncallable slam being bid and made despite some fantastic sacrifice bidding by Ajay and me. We are convinced that it was the telephathic communication by the twins at that stage which got the better of us as Ajay and I had played impeccable bridge the whole evening to see a grand slam, doubled, redoubled being made by Suraj taking an unbelieveable finesse of the 9 of spades.
These competitions, which lasted through the whole of the winter, really made the JCR popular. However, what really got us the support of the entire college was the organisation of the first ever JCR evening where the student talent in the college was used to put up an evening of music and drama. I do not remember the names of all the performers, but Principal Sircar and Dean Rajpal were amazed at the amount of talent we discovered in the college. Principal Sircar made sure that we had tea, samosas and barfis for all. We had a packed hall which cheered the entire performance. We even had some Miranda House girls turn up (although we had not intended it to be an open evening).
I do not know how many of these traditions have continued but already the next year we saw them dying as the Committee was taken over by a few who thought at the start of the year they would do something better than us, but finally did not do anything as they did not establish the correct rapport with the authorities.
The crux of the matter was to have good communication with the staff. That was possible because Principal Sircar was always open to suggestion and agreed in the students interest on most issues. In our dictionary I would describe him as a Montessorian - The Child is the Father of Man - and he showed that it was possible to have a happy environment for us students who were far from our homes. Many may disagree, but I think our second year in residence was one of the most active and pleasant ones that I can remember - and it was not due to me - I was only the figurehead of a group which was active enough to be successful.
And that brings me to the crux of this Kooler Talk (Web Version). If you want it to be successful, then you must take part in it by joining in framing its layout and contents. I have pushed in 4 issues and can keep it going for several more, but your contributions would be welcome. I can then concentrate more on making my main page, Findians Briefings, more provocative!
I am already persona non grata in Finland for my hard-hitting writing on social and economic issues so I need more time for investigative research to keep up that tempo. I do not believe we should rest on past laurels and only content ensures greater readership. This page is the reverse, as it now has the readership support and now needs more content.
JCR President 1961-1962
Mukerjee Block S-8 (1960-1963)
Gyp: Kundan Singh - a great guy who helped us out in every way possible from jumping gates to fixing the late night register!!