Principal BS Bahl, a doyen of Indian academics, passed away recently. The author of 18 standard text books in chemistry, he was very popular among students, with great achievements to his credit in teaching and building institutions.
The great teacher continues to inspire students and remained faithful to the cause of true education. He groomed and polished the potential of his students, to his last breath, even as he turned 102.
The founder of the DAV College at Amritsar in 1954-55, he ensured it ranked among the best colleges in the region in just seven years. His 16 years at the helm at DAV College, Jalandhar, propelled the college to the pinnacle of its glory. and also brought him name and fame.
Bahl was punctual to the second and made viable plans and would stick to them. Scouting for talented students and sportsmen was a passion with him and the college bagged all merit positions in all activities.
Blessed with a keen sense of observation, he knew the chaff from the grain and would provide free-ships to the needy and brilliant students, most times from his own pocket.
His reputation as an educationist travelled far and even governments sought his advise.
Well-travelled, he suggested several useful plans at meetings as a senator and syndicate member at the PU, the GNDU and the Punjabi University, Patiala. He willingly retired at 66 in 1978, though the DAV College Managing Committee was not willing to let him go.
Bahl then played a role in the administration of many DAV colleges and schools as a distinguished advisor and later as the senior vice-president of the DAV College Managing Committee, New Delhi.
He would spend his last days at KB DAV Centenary Senior Secondary School, 7-B, Chandigarh, as its chairman and willed that his ashes be spread at the flowerbeds in the school. In 1993, the golden jubilee edition of his most popular book ‘Advanced Inorganic Chemistry’ was published. I asked him, “Sir, how and when did you get interested in writing such books?”
His answer, “I felt concerned about students. When I was a lecturer, during summer vacations, I would go to hill stations. At a certain hill station, there was a cobra in my room. The reptile’s fear would keep me awake at night, and I used this time to write and revise my books.” He was a genius at putting staff to optimal use. In 1976, the DAV College at Kangra was to be started and he asked me to go there as the head of department, from my posting at Jalandhar.
He convinced me thus, “We will pay you more...I know good teachers are costly...but a bad teacher could cost us more...you’re, therefore, the best choice...!”
After I joined, I wrote a detailed letter to him expecting a long reply, but his succinct response was worth a thousand words, “Nothing less was expected from you...” How little he would say, but how much he would get done. firstname.lastname@example.org
(The writer is a Kangra- based psychologist)