Schooled in right values

Indraprastha Girls Senior Secondary School in a corner of Old Delhi taught women their first lesson in education and empowerment.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2006 12:13 IST

Much before it became fashionable to fete women and give them their little due by designating an International Women’s Day for them, a quiet revolution was taking place in the heart of Delhi for empowerment and emancipation of women.

Nestled in a quaint corner of Old Delhi and sharing Jama Masjid’s ancient heritage, is the Capital’s first all-girls school the Indraprastha Girls Senior Secondary School. It is the same school, which despite threats of social ostracism, taught women their first lesson in education and empowerment.

And now, after a successful completion of 100 years in 2004, it is all set to mark its hoary heritage with a commemorative stamp and a first day cover. “The stamp and the first day cover, due for release in April, are dedicated to women’s education and upliftment,” says Lala Narain Prasad, the octogenarian grandson of Lala Jugal Kishore who has taken over the reins of both the Indraprastha School and the Indraprastha College.

The Indraprastha Girls Senior Secondary School was a vision of noted freedom fighter Dr Annie Besant. It became a reality, thanks to the pioneering zeal of the well-known theosophist Lala Jugal Kishore, who had to coerce people into sending their girls to school. Progressive and forward looking, the school’s mandate was not just to educate women but to inculcate in them a sense of self-worth and a confidence to hold their own in the world outside.

Indraprastha Hindu Girls Senior Secondary School, as it was earlier known, started out on May 21, 1904, with just five students, all married members of Lala Jugal Kishore’s family. Today it has on its rolls more than 500 students who are doing their alma mater proud.

The roll of honour boasts legends like Dr Kapila Vatsyayan, the world’s only woman sarod player Sharan Rani Backliwal, freedom fighter Sarla Sharma and Kamala Nehru, to quote Lala Narain Prasad. Working out of a 1857 haveli, donated by Lala Balkrishan Das, the school housed the Delhi branch of the Theosophical Society of India and served as a platform for freedom struggle, informs Lala Narain Prasad.

It still serves from the haveli, which has been declared a heritage site. And in keeping with Indraprastha School’s tradition it continues its fight for social-upliftment and empowerment of women.

First Published: Mar 08, 2006 12:13 IST