The founders of our college, Dr. N.K. Singh and his wife Dr. K. Savitri, were ambitious people. They were visionaries who dreamt of establishing a women’s college in the steel city and aimed to make it a college with a difference. The name they gave it was also unique. They called it ‘The Graduate School, College For Women’. I choose to speak of them as ‘founders’ of our college because I find impossible to refer to one person as the founder and leave the other out. We in the college were liked pampered children who would be scolded by ‘Madam’ the principal and pacified by ‘Sir’ the founder! The college was later taken over by the Ranchi University but the spirit of its founders still prevails.
Dr. N.K. Singh started his career as a lecturer in Jamshedpur Co- Operative College. My husband who was student of the college around that time recalls how his students would throng to attend his classes and those who couldn’t get a seat in the lecture hall would wait outside to listen to him. He went on to become the Head of the Commerce Faculty in the college, Dean of the commerce faculty in Ranchi University and Professor in charge of Jharia College near Dhandad. After his retirement, he could have settled down to an evening game of cards and enjoyed a relaxed retired life. However that was not to be. The educationist in him prodded him on to starting a school and as if establishing a college was not enough he gave shape to another of his dreams and founded a school – S.D. Singh Memorial School for Excellence.
The Teacher’s day is just around the corner and I wish to pay a tribute to this great educationist of our times. I am not competent enough to speak of his achievements for there are others who are better equipped to do the job. I speak of him as one who transformed our institute to an extended family to each of who worked in it – Of the values he instilled into our system.
When I joined the college as Lab in Charge, the college was just ten years old. At the time of my interview Madam and Sir were in Ranchi, with madam busy finalizing her Ph. D. thesis. The two of them trusted their teachers from the science faculty, not yet thirty years of age, to conduct the interview and select suitable candidates. They had such faith in their teachers that they accepted their verdict without a question. It was ten years since I had finished my B.Sc. and I was rather very much out of touch with my subject. I had not even known that such a college existed and had applied purely by chance. My HOD later confided that it was evident that I was out of touch but my academic record indicated that I would soon pick up from where I had left. She therefore decided to give me a chance. If our founders trusted her, she trusted me. It is this chain of mutual trust that linked them to each other and the first lesson I learnt was to succeed I had to trust myself as well as others around me!
Another area that stands out among us is the family spirit that we display. When I was new to the college, I was surprised that some senior teachers called the Principal ‘akka’. If madam was ‘akka’, Dr. N.K. Singh was ‘chachaji’ to some of the junior teachers! I do admit that I did feel a trifle left out in this set up. The principal’s PA was an ex student and so was the PTI. The peon in the Principal’s office was an old acquaintance of her family and during practical exams she would cook not only for the examiners but all of us as well! I would be left wondering if this was a function in the family seeing the hospitality shown by her to the examiners. Each new person was accepted into the family fold and we did not just 'work' in the college but ‘lived’ in it. Till today we continue to be fiercely protective of each other’s welfare.
A real teacher is one who can identify the hidden talent in each of her students. He should be able to bring out the best in them. He should be able to address the problems faced by weak students. We are fortunate to be guided by an outstanding educationist of our times, who continues to pick out gems for teachers. Yes, the school founded by him is also a school with a difference. Teachers selected to work in Dr. N.K. Singh’s school are required to take part in an orientation course. Only after being assessed if they are mentally competent enough to face the challenges posed by the profession, are they finally allowed to join the school.
Dr. N.K. Singh is turning seventy-five this year. He still continues to be part of our college. He may still spring surprises and come up with another enterprising program. I can only hope that we stay well enough to cope with this young man’s zest to do his bit, I mean best, for our society.
I end with a song that I loved to sing as a school girl-
Dare to be a Daniel
Dare to stand alone
Dare to have a purpose firm
And dare to make it known
Somehow I feel that these lines sum up the values that we have inherited from our mentor Dr.N.K. Singh and it is our duty to pass it on to the next generation.