Guest Column: Remembering Kumari Vidyavati Anand, an educationist par excellence
The birth anniversary of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first vice-president of the Indian Republic, is celebrated as Teachers’ Day. On this day as I pay my homage to him, I also pay tributes to Kumari Vidyavati Anand (popularly referred to as Madam), the founder principal of Hans Raj Mahila Maha Vidyalya (HRMV) in Jalandhar, the foundation stone of which was laid by Dr Radhakrishnan on November 7,1959.
Madam developed deformity in her hands at the age of 10, but with grit and determination she went on to do her master’s in economics and became a lecturer at HRMV in Lahore. After partition, the college reopened in Jalandhar in a rented building with 70 students. Mehr Chand Mahajan, who went on to be the third Chief Justice of India, was the then president of the DAV College Managing Committee (DAVCMC) and reposed faith in Madam and she accepted the challenge of building a first-rate girls’ college. Today, HRMV is a multi-faculty postgraduate girls’ college with a magnificent campus. It is the pride of the region,evolving with the changing aspirations of youth and the expectations of the nation.
Madam was a member of the Panjab University senate from 1964-1971 and 1971-1977 and a member of the syndicate from 1974 to 1975. She was actively associated with the social welfare programmes of the Arya Samaj. A Gandhian to the core, she wore khadi all her life.
Someone who considered discipline to be the quintessence of education, Madam was a strict disciplinarian; no one could be lax with their duties on her watch. However, under her stern exterior, there throbbed a compassionate heart. She offered generous concessions to students in need.
Very few leaders have the willingness and courage to train their colleagues to take up higher responsibilities. Madam’s discerning eyes spotted talent and rewarded it. HRMV became a nursery of future principals of DAV Colleges for Women in north India, all groomed by Madam and now working with missionary zeal.
Madam was the only woman to be appointed the secretary and the vice-president of DAVCMC and Arya Pradeshik Pratinidhi Sabha, New Delhi.
Madam led an ascetic’s life. She had bought a house in Delhi years ago and as the rates of the property sky-rocketed, she sold it later for more than Rs 1crore. Of this amount she donated Rs 85 lakh to the DAVCMC, which adopted DAV College for Women, Karnal, at the request of its founding fathers.
When I was asked to take charge of the college it had a few faculty members and was a single faculty college without a suitable building. Madam gave the college Rs 40 lakh for its development and the organisation decided to name the college after her in recognition of her commendable work.
Today, Kumari Vidyavati Anand DAV College, Karnal, has 350 students, modern laboratories and a multi-purpose auditorium. Her family has given a corpus fund to DAVCMC, out of which every year scholarships worth Rs 15,000 are given to students on merit-cum-means basis.
I am reminded of Sir Edward Dyer’s words:
“Some have too much, yet still do crave;
I little have, and seek no more.
They are but poor, though much they have,
And I am rich with little store;
They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
They lack, I leave; they pine, I live.”
I am so glad to have been associated with Madam. She took me under her wings in Jalandhar and then followed through my journey, being instrumental in making me grow both professionally and socially.
Madam left for her heavenly abode on January 2, 2002, but her rich legacy will inspire many generations.
The author is a retired principal of KVA DAV College, Karnal, and member, DAV College Managing Committee, New Delhi.