I would like to take this opportunity to send cordial fraternal good wishes for a happy & successful Reunion OCA Delhi next Saturday.Would you be kind enough to add my sadness on behalf of OCAUK:Last evening I received a call from Les Homer (L 43-49) in Bristol to say Ron Plunkett (C 43-50) passed away at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon in Somerset after a prolonged illness.Pauline with love & devotion nursed him through those years.After leaving school the first time I met Ron again was at attending my first OC Reunion on Oxford Street about 1971. From that meet Ron, Les, Arthur Jones (L 42-48) & I remained in close contact. Ron joined the Metropolitan Police force and retired as Superintendent & settled into a charming homestead on Porlock Hill Somerset. Maggie & I and sometimes accompanied by Shirley & Arthur Jones spent many long weekends and on occasion Sylvia & Les Homer would join all of us. Happy Days & us guys recalling school years & tales of India while our wives rehearsed their exchanges. Pauline & Ron attended all the OCA lunches till Ron could no longer travel after moving to resettle in nearby Allicombe. Phone calls, letters & cards replaced contact & our presence.I can recall the significant return to Patina OCAUK Chairman Dick Bayliss, Ron Plunkett, Arthur Jones & myself made June 1992. DC Anand kindly sponsored & made arrangement with late SM Jain to make our experience an outstanding visit. For all of us an historic moment struck that gave the arrowhead to the Spirit of BCS across the globe.We shall miss Ron and send our united condolence to Pauline, son Shaun and daughter Melanie – bless him another Curzonite to be remembered.Thank youPeter Stringer (Lefroy 43-47)
We are planning a 8 day exploration trip to Lahaul Spiti valley visiting Chandratal Kaza Tabo Kalpa Sangla ending at our school on September 24th in time for our school annual celebrations.
We can accommodate maximum 20 people. 10 OC couples, or individuals 20. As we intend having senior OCs (my vintage) all aspects of safety will be given high priority. Special vehicles with medical/mechanical will be escorting us. No sedan cars. You will have to bring your own SUV. If necessary we can provide SUV s but that will be at additional cost. We prefer you have your own SUVs.
We are working out the costs, it will be approximate Rs.30,000 per head. That includes accommodation and 3 meals a day. Included the medical/mechanical support. All vehicles will be provided radio sets to keep communication alive when we are traveling where there is no cellular phone connectivity.
If you have any queries please revert or call me. Kindly DO NOT delay your confirmations as we have to do booking of accommodation and work on logistical support.
We will meet in Manali on 16th September, last night at Narkhanda 23rd September.
If this trip materializes, we hope to make this an annual feature…! Please give me your inputs.
Further to “Open Letter to Board of Governors, BCS Shimla” here is an update from Gay Niblett
I was delighted to hear of the response from the Board of Governors to my open letter.
We all look forward to hearing of the progress with the ‘Infrastructure Development Fund’ in the School and hope that from overseas we can report a development with our meeting(s) with the Master of Marlborough College in September.
We shall also maintain and progress our efforts with the Head Masters of Rugby and Westminster.
With our thanks and very best wishes
Hon. Life President
I write to you with the attached letter, which was sent to each of the Members of the Board of Governors of Bishop Cotton School. It is my “last bugle call” as Chairman OCA (UK) but a “reveille” to all Cottonians with special emphasis on those Indians living in India, who can more easily make the journey up to the old School to see the situation as it is and with their support, ensures the changes are made to carry BCS successfully forward into the 21st Century.
With my thanks and best wishes to all Cottonians,
Chairman OCA (UK)
Chairman and Board of Governors
Bishop Cotton School
Shimla 171002 (HP)
4 June 2010
Dear Chairman and Board Members :
I address this letter to you on the occasion of my stepping down as Chairman OCA(UK) after 10 wonderful years at its helm. It is also a seminal moment in the history of our School, in the 150th year since its foundation.
No longer can we look back alone on its history, its tradition and its name on the CV of its pupils to set them apart in the world of globalised pressure and competition. The future demands a stronger, more pragmatic background, based on today’s exigencies and values.
I have been privileged to read Vijay K. Stokes (Rivaz 1948-54) treatise, “150 years of Bishop Cotton School – an assessment of the past – and the future” which should be mandatory reading for all members of the B.O.G. and the Staff of B.C.S. and would be a salutary and eye-opening document for all pupils of B.C.S. past and present. A masterpiece by a brilliant scholar, author of innumerable papers and publications and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers amongst many distinguished honours and for the past 20 years studying the culture of the area 50 miles north of Shimla.
Vijay K. Stokes, like the President of OCA(India) and myself was in Rivaz House, whose motto is ‘Sirvamus’. We all have the School and its future at heart and I quote three small extracts tying-in the past with the future which portray the thoughts of us all:
“… Some good things about (our) school years … irrespective of their background, a rigorous enforcement of the uniform and pocket-money, a strict enforcement of the leave policy and an equal treatment of all parents made all students “equal”. Personal integrity was considered important, as was telling the truth. One did not do underhand things – that was just not cricket! The School motto ‘Overcome Evil with Good’ was in consonance with Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals”.
“ … Mr ‘Tubby’ Whitmarsh-Knight – who set a very high standard as a role model for integrity and as a teacher – was the Senior Master and (my) House Master, the school was well run! Later, as the qualifications of the teachers declined, many of the good practices became rather lax and richer parents could ask for rules to be bent; the School tended to become more of a ‘finishing school’ for the rich” and finally :
“ … The focus of education must shift to training the mind to think – which is the essence of education – and to inculcate a sense of enquiry that best prepares persons for rapidly changing environments. THIS WILL REQUIRE HIGH QUALITY TEACHERS who can make science and mathematics more exciting than cricket (IPL not withstanding!) THE STATUS QUO WILL JUST NOT DO.
“ … WORKING OUT THE REQUIRED REVOLUTIONARY CHANGES IN EDUCATION IS CERTAINLY BEYOND THE KEN OF THE CURRENT STAFF.”
The vital points made by Mr Vijay K. Stokes are echoed by me and other OCs worldwide: a radical change in direction and control by the Board of Governors along with a change in attitude and structure in the running of the school; a delegated line of responsibility filtering down from the Headmaster via the Senior Master, House Masters (and teaching Masters) through Prefects to the pupils themselves must be clearly laid down. Only thus will there be mutual respect achieved with mutual responsibility.
Staff accommodation has to be made decent and acceptable enough to attract the highest level of teachers – who may be fewer but better.
Staff salaries must be increased substantially, commensurate with better qualifications and enough to attract teachers not only from the best in India but from outside India – cost of living adjustments will be taken into account along with leave and travel and the needs of families – not making it essential to have both husband and wife working, simply to provide a living wage!
The infrastructure of the whole school must be overhauled.
Classrooms, dormitories, bathrooms, kitchens, dining-room, recreation rooms laboratories, I.T. and Art, Engineering, Crafts, Hobbies, Theatre and other studies must be renewed and up-dated. Sports facilities improved immensely.
Class sizes must be restricted to 30 pupils per class.
The total number of pupils must be reduced to between 300 and 350.
Fees will have to be raised – without fear – to reflect the changes in the facilities and infrastructure and the upgraded staff.
The School has to compete not only with other schools in India but be looking to provide for schools from the UK and USA who are selling their brands worldwide.
Globally fees for boarding schools range between £25,000 and £30,000 per annum.
Marlborough College has set up schools in Malaysia and the USA. They are actively seeking partners in India. This is not just for the exchange of teachers and pupils. Harrow, Rugby, Westminster and Dulwich College have joint ventures in India and China or are seeking them. This also applies in the setting up of similar schools in the Middle East.
Over the past 18 months OCA(UK) has been developing a relationship, principally with Marlborough College but also with Rugby and Westminster – all schools associated with our Founder, Bishop Cotton (and could call on Harrow School as well) to try and integrate to exchange teachers and pupils between BCS and Marlborough College. The Master of Marlborough, Mr Nicholas Sampson, his Deputy and Mr Larry Lamont – who has met Mr Robinson at school – are keen to foment the relationship. It would be a travesty if all these efforts were not acted upon now.
A chance was lost some 10 years or so ago, when Board Member Mr Deep C. Anand hosted a number of Marlborough pupils on a visit to India with Mr Martin Evans, Secretary of the Old Marlburians. Following last year’s 150th celebrations at Marlborough and the annual cricket match between Marlborough and Rugby – a team from Rugby came to India and was entertained in Delhi by the OCA.
So the potential exists. It must be nurtured.
India stands in the forefront of nations in I.T. and its sons and daughters occupy posts at the highest international levels in Banking, Science, Research, Industry and Commerce. It is to these posts that B.C.S. must aspire for its pupils and now is when it must act – taking the vital steps to renew and reinvigorate its great institution to meet these challenges.
Forgive me for writing at such length but the added inspiration given to me by Mr Deep C. Anand and Mr Vijay K. Stokes caused me to amplify and substantiate those views.
I trust you will consider, digest, discuss and act soon on our thoughts, which come from our hearts and the love of our alma mater and gratitude for all it gave us.
With very best regards,
Yours most sincerely,
21st October 2009
My dear Fellow Cottonians,
Bishop Cotton School, Shimla – Sesquicentennial Celebrations
I write to thank each one of you – all those who came and many of those who could not – for showing that the spirit of BCS remains alive in all of us.
The six days of celebrations starting with the OCA dinner hosted by Chandigarh Chapter on October 1st and ending with the Closing Ceremonies at the School on the 6th were an absolute delight and I am sure will remain a cherished memory in our hearts and in our lives forever.
Indeed, what a gathering it was! With over a thousand OCs from India and across the Globe – from UK, USA, Canada, Pakistan, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand – many of whom had made this memorable journey for the first time after leaving School! We have all come back from the experience with our spirits soaring, our memories refreshed and bonding reinforced. Let us not ever forget what our School means to us and what it has given us. Let us continue to OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD.
I take this opportunity to especially put on record my appreciation and thanks to the Members of the Himachal, Chandigarh and Delhi Chapters of the OCA who gave their valuable time, effort, support and cooperation in ensuring that this grand event was such a resounding success. I also thank the OCA World Body for their unstinted efforts, contribution and, most importantly, their presence during the celebrations. And last but not the least, I thank each and every OC who contributed – whether in the form of personal effort, advice, financial resources or for just being there!
Wishing each one of you happiness, success, good luck and good health,
With my very best wishes,
Deep C. Anand