Tag Archives: Spot Light

First Class Cricketers killed in World War 2 & Some distinguished OCs from 1926-1928

Dear All,

I am taking the liberty of forwarding an interesting piece of correspondence concerning an Old Cottonian, Vivian Chiodetti who passed out in 1912. Please read the exchange of mails that follows this note.

I happened to glance through the list of names from 1864-2004  http://www.oldcottonians.org/ocs1863-2004_listing.htm A quick read is interesting and lists some very distinguished people.

For the year 1926 it lists the name of Dewan Ranjit Rai (for more go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dewan_Ranjit_Rai)  father of Arunjit Raiwhose mother lived just after First Bridge ahead of East Bourne. She was the half sister of our dear friends Sukhinder and Mukhinder Singh. Dewan Ranjit Rai was awarded the Mahavir Chakra posthumously and is listed as one of the officers who saved the Kashmir Valley for India in 1947.

I quote from Wikipedia ”  He was the first officer of the Indian Army after independence to fight a battle on October 27, 1947. He was the first officer to be awarded the Mahavir Chakra. He died on October 27, 1947 in a paddy field near Pattan. Five generations of his family have served in the Indian Army, including his grandson Maj (retd) Shivjit Singh Shergill and great grandson Faridjit Singh Shergill”

The list for 1927 includes the name of Rustom Feroze Boga. I wonder if this gentleman was in any way related to the legendary sports person, Jal Boga, in the 1950’s. Jal Boga is an unusual Parsi because they have produced some of the best academics, lawyers and doctors but rarely an athlete!

That year also lists a few other interesting and charismatic people who made a name for themselves later in life. The Batra brothers both with the same initials R N with one being Rabinder and the other  Rajinder. One of them became a General in the army and it was his son who was in Curzon house having finished in 1966 or 1967. The Batras carry the long life gene!!

This was a distinguished class because it also consisted of Mr E A Cuzen who was the Lefroy Housemaster in 1954 when I joined School. I just discovered that his first name was Edward. He left BCS in 1957 and I am informed his son, Neil, joined the Royal Air Force. They also had a daughter Glenda. Never really heard much about this family after they left BCS. Mr Cuzen taught history and was quite a distinguished batsman and a decent hockey player.

Leslie Sawhny who distinguished himself in the corporate world, leaving the army prematurely, was the brother in law of J R D Tata. Leslie Sawhny, based on the history of the Tatas was intuitive in bringing about the selection of Darbari Seth of Tata Chemicals. Leslie Sawhny was also the man who turned around the fortunes of Taj hotel in Bombay which was at one time considered a white elephant by bringing in a band of good people that included Ajit Kerkar. Leslie Sawhny’s untimely death on the golf course was a body blow for JRD who depended on him almost completely in developing and shaping the Tatas at that time. There are several institutions today named after Leslie Sawhny and it is said that his departure was deeply felt by JRD and the Tatas for a long time.

The following year, 1928, lists the name of Narottam Sahgal better known as the former husband of Nayantara Sahgal, the writer and daughter of Mrs Vijay Lakshmi Pandit. Narottam Sahgal was well known in Bombay as the Managing Director of Ciba-Geigy and he accomplished a major job in handling their  pharmaceutical business and persuading the Swiss multinational to establish a research centre in Bombay when R & D was still not a fashionable word!!

So, we have quite a heritage of distinguished people and there are several others waiting to be written about. It would be a good idea to catalogue the lives of some of these legends. We always feel nicer by association when you have little to crow about !!

Warmly,

Vijay

—– Original Message —–

From: OCA Webmaster

To: Aditya Sondhi

Cc: Ajay Thiara ; Praveen Dharma ; Sukhinder Singh ; roy.robinson7@gmail.com ; vk@devats.com

Sent: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 12:28 AM

Subject: Re: Fw: Fist Class Cricketers killed in World War Two

Dear Aditya

Mr Praveen Dharma who is an Old Cottonian himself and is a Staff Member at BCS Simla was able to look up the records of admission (called the Dooms Day Book!) and found that Mr Chiodetti was at BCS for just one year in 1912. Records appended to this email.

Yes, we are aware of your family Lambas who were at BCS.

Best regards Anil

On Mon, 10 Apr 2017 at 6:26 PM Aditya Sondhi  wrote:

Dear Anil (if I may),

Thank you for writing back. I’m sure this will take Nigel’s efforts further.

It would be a pleasure for me to send your OCA a copy of my book on the alumni of BCBS (http://penguin.co.in/book/non-fiction/the-order-of-the-crest-2/) as also a copy to BCS Shimla. Would the School address be apt for both?

Incidentally, my dad grew up in Shimla but schooled at your rival St. Edward’s. Several uncles (Lambas) went to BCS though.

Warm regards,

Aditya

———-

Aditya Sondhi, PhD
Senior Advocate
Additional Advocate General
State of Karnataka

On Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 10:47 AM, OCA Webmaster <webmaster@oldcottonians.org> wrote:

Dear Aditya

This is fascinating.

Yes, Mr. Vivian Chiodetti is listed as being of the 1912 BCS Batch.

You can view the listing

http://www.oldcottonians.org/ocs1863-2004_listing.htm

We do not have any photos on file though, and therefore am copying Bishop Cotton School Headmaster Mr Roy Robinson to seek his assistance. It could be possible that Vivian Chiodetti is listed on one of the School Honor Boards.  I’m hoping that Mr. Robinson can depute one of the school boys to go look up the Boards and then send us a photo of the same. Maybe a photo of Mr. Chiodetti will also be found in the School records of class photos from for these do date back to 1912…

Best regards

Anil Advani

Webmaster for oldcottonians.org

On Mon, 10 Apr 2017 at 10:14 AM Aditya Sondhi wrote:

Dear Shimla OCA,

Please see the mails below. Would you be able to help?

Warm regards,

Aditya

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

From: Nigel McCrery Sent: Monday 10 April 2017 00:28

To: Aditya Sondhi

Subject: Re: Fist Class Cricketers killed in World War Two

Dear Aditya, Many thanks for the reply. Yes if you know anyone that could help that would be wonderful. It would be a shame to go to print with just that photograph missing. He played several sports for the school including cricket, so I am sure there must be a pic somewhere. Nigel MCcrery

From: Aditya Sondhi <>
Sent: 08 April 2017 08:33:45
To: Nigel McCrery
Subject: Re: Fist Class Cricketers killed in World War Two

Dear Mr McCrery,

A pleasure to hear from you and to hear about your upcoming book. My research suggests that Vivian Chiodetti is from Bishop Cotton, Shimla while my old school is Bishop Cotton, Bangalore. They are not sister institutions, though they are founded and inspired by the Bishop, respectively.

Would you like to try contacting the alumni association of BCS Shimla ? I have an email id for them from some years ago and hope it still works – ‎webmaster@oldcottonians.org

I would love to get hold of your book once it’s out. In my book – The Order of the Crest – sent to the MCC, I do refer to ‎Old Cottonian cricketers martyred in WW1. Should I come across names from WW2, I’d be happy to share them with you.

Do take a look at the book if you find the time.

With warm regards,

Aditya

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

From: Nigel McCrery

Sent: Friday 7 April 2017 21:29

To: aditya

Subject: Fist Class Cricketers killed in World War Two

Dear Sir, Your name has been given to me by the MCC. They think you might be able to help. I am just finishing a book on Fist Class Cricketers killed in World War Two to be called, “The Coming Storm” To be published by Pen and Sword this July (Cover attached). I am trying to get information on an old boy of the Bishop Cotten School, a school I understand you are an expert on. His details are,

Major Vivian Alexander Chiodetti. he served with the 2nd Manchester Regt attached to the 3rd Burma Rifles when he was killed on 17 January 1942. He was also a First Class Cricketer playing for Hyderabad. I am looking for any information on this man and especially photograph. I have been in touch with the school but they have not been very helpful and are I feel a tad confused about what I want. With your links with the school I was hoping you might be able to help, fingers crossed. He was born in Rawalpindi on 31 May 1905 and joined the army in 1925. He played cricket for his school I understand. Any help very gratefully received.  Many thank. Nigel McCrery

 

BCS sets an example

Rainwater harvest by Northwest: How this school in Shimla has emerged as an example for other residential schools.

Bishop Cotton School in Shimla tides over water scarcity by harvesting rainwater, setting an example for other residential schools located in hilly regions.

bcs_water_harvesting_1Shimla school goes from students bathing every other day to swimming daily!

Mathew Jacob, estate supervisor at Bishop Cotton School (BCS) in Shimla, remembers when he took his students walking in single file to the nearby stream to wash and bathe every other day in the summers. Shimla is a city blessed with very high precipitation but a poor distribution network which results in water scarcity in the summers. Established in Shimla 1859, the famous boys’ residential school with illustrious alumni including author Ruskin Bond, industrialist Ratan Tata and golfer Jeev Milkha Singh to name a few, was also victim to this crisis.

Rising strength of the students and staff continued to burden the already stressed supply but the school managed by hiring water tankers and providing only short supplies to residents. For Jacob, it was a situation that could be easily handled. “I belong to Kerala where we have traditionally been harvesting rainwater in wells and ponds. At a household level, we hang a muslin cloth over four sticks and the rainwater passing through the cloth is collected in a pot to be used for drinking and cooking,” he says.

Rainwater is first made to go through a mesh which stops the big particles from the rooftop
Rainwater is first made to go through a mesh which stops the big particles from the rooftop
The concept of rainwater harvesting is simple but to implement this at an institutional level, technical know-how especially about filtration and plumbing systems was required. Help came in 1992 from the Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART), which was running a programme on rainwater harvesting for institutes. Two storage tanks were dug and lined with polythene to collect rainwater from rooftops.

Though the programme ran only for two years, it introduced the school management to the basics of the required set up. The storage tanks were fortified with cement and new structures were built with links to the rooftops. Already slanting roofs of the buildings in the hills easily fit into the scheme of things. By the year 2000, rainwater was also being used for flushing in the washrooms and bathing. The school also got four borewells of which two are still functional. The water falling on around 1350 square metre of rooftops is collected at different locations.

bcs_water_harvesting_2

The rainwater is led through a mesh which stops pollen, pine needles and monkey droppings from going into the filtration chambers, which are mainly lined with pebbles, coarse sand and charcoal. The filtered water is then sent to the storage tanks from where it is either pumped to the overhead tanks for use in the toilets and kitchen or for gardening. The water from the storage tanks is also sent to the central filtration plant before its use for drinking and cooking.

“When I joined here 22 years ago, we had a storage capacity of just 14,000 litres. Today, there are four storage tanks with a capacity of around 7 lakh litres. Of this, rainwater makes up around 3 lakh litres,” Jacob says. The daily water demand of the school is around 1 lakh litres of which 60 percent is met by the Municipal Corporation. “During lean months, this supply further reduces but we have enough water for the residents, and water tankers are not required,” says Rabinder Kaul, former incharge of the school’s Nature Club.

The experience also inspired the school to look for natural solutions to a challenging situation. In April 2006, the swimming pool had no water due to a supply problem from the Municipal Corporation. The management decided to hire 24 water tankers at cost of Rs 60,000 to fill the pool as swimming classes were getting delayed but before that could happen, clouds gathered and the management changed its mind. “Rainwater flowing out through the open drains was diverted towards the pool downhill. It was made to pass through a steel tank lined with filter media. By next morning, the pool was filled to its maximum capacity of around 2 lakh litres without any expense,” Jacob explains.

The school spent around Rs 45 lakh on its water set up which includes the centralised water filtration plant costing Rs 35 lakh. “Though rainwater is usually clean, we were not sure about the supply from the Municipal Corporation. Besides, we also use groundwater through borewells which requires filtration,” Jacob says. BCS has emerged as an example worth emulating especially for residential schools in the hills which are bound to have high water demand but low supply.

Originally published on India Water Portal’s blog. Republished here with permission.

http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/shimla-school-goes-students-bathing-every-other-day-swimming-daily

Lopa & Greesh Ghai

From Vijay Khurana :

Dear All,

About two weeks ago, while on a visit to Bombay, I chanced to meet Lopa Ghai at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club.

Lopa Ghai is the wife of our dear friend Greesh Ghai who passed away in August 1988 of a heart attack. He was 42.  He was, perhaps, the first one to go from our class of 1963.

Greesh and his younger brother, Rajiv, were pulled out of BCS at the end of 1962 because their parents were not enthused by the grades that these boys obtained in school. They moved to Cathedral in Bombay and eventually finished their schooling from that institution.

Rakesh Chopra and I saw a lot of Greesh during our winter breaks between 1958 and until I left Bombay in 1985.

Greesh’s father was in the timber business and they had saw mills in Yamuna Nagar and in Darukhana near the docks in Mumbai. Changing business patterns saw them see the timber business dwindle and then fade away. They then moved to a rental income stream by leasing out the large property that they owned near the docks where demand was constant with attractive rates still being available. It was no where near the margins that the timber business gave them but they were content with this alternative where the risks were lower and business enterprise was not at a premium.

Greesh was a generous and warm hearted person. He was a good friend. It is a testimony to his sterling qualities that all his close friends stood by and helped Lopa after his passing away. He had earned their loyalty. Greesh was easy going but committed to any effort when he put is mind to something. While at BCS he excelled at painting and on the games field he was a good short distant runner but his best events were the shot put and the discuss throw. He showed aptitude as a soccer defender and a decent cricket player. Sports was an activity he loved most to the detriment of his studies though he was no laggard. His marks were decent but the parents expected a scholar and that he was not !!

After Greesh’s departure, Lopa brought up their boys, Monty (named after Monty of Rivaz house and whom Greesh greatly admired) and Sanjay. Both boys went to Cathedral and then to the US for their college education. They bear a striking resemblance to Greesh. Monty is currently with BBC Worldwide based in Singapore. He is married to the niece of former film star, Vinod Khanna. Sanjay the younger boy stays with Lopa and is an importer of food products. His wife is well known in the dog grooming business.

Rajiv, the younger brother of Greesh became the victim of drug and alcohol abuse fairly early in life. It took a toll on his personality and his health. He lives in a rented apartment not far from Anand Vihar, Warden Road, the family home. He sustained an injury that has impaired his ability to walk. Lopa has provided him with full time servant help and she supervises his care on a daily basis.

Lopa looks almost exactly when I first met her in 1969. She has not changed much since the time of their marriage in 1970. Life just moved on but she brought stability to the lives of her sons. She is justifiably proud of them.

For some of you to be able to recall Greesh Ghai, I send as attachments to this mail, Rivaz house photographs for the years 1961 & 1962. In the picture for 1961, Greesh is standing in the third row, 5th from the left. He is in between Jimmy Gideon and J L Joshi. In the Rivaz House 1962 photograph he is seated 4th from the right in between Harpreet Grewal and CM Kohli, his dear friend and smoking buddy. RLV Nath was the other smoking companion and therefore a good friend.

I recall some lovely and memorable outings with Greesh during our winter holidays in Bombay. The meals at his home were always superb and his mother (she fell to cancer) made so much of an effort to make sure we were fed well. Her cooking was outstanding. (I loved the raita and the gobi she made!!) His father was a mild manner man and short of stature. He often gave in to the demands these boys made of him all the time. He loved them dearly and his was never the firm hand.

Greesh was an emotional man. He was a warm and caring friend. Despite his size and considerable physical strength he was incapable of hurting anyone. He was averse to a physical fight and therefore served as an excellent prop when you wanted to threaten anyone on the road!! One of those guys who knew he had strength but was always wary to even measure its force, let alone employ it!! A timid giant ? Not really but just a pacifist who was afraid to hurt anyone because at the back of his mind he probably knew that the damage he could inflict would be considerable if not severe!! He was just not the street fighter and that he could never be given his character and gentle temperament.

I miss him.

My kind regards and good wishes, again, for the Coming Year

Sincerely,

Vijay

OCs launch successful IT startup in Simla

We are pleased to pass on this news about two Old Cottonians, Vivek Parmar [Ibbetson 1981-93] and Karan Pal Singh Chauhan [Rivaz 1983-95; School Captain 1995] who quit their big city careers to startup in Himachal Pradesh. They are featured on the front page of India’ s leading newspaper Indian Express on December 26, 2015. Congratulations on your success!
99425ffc-8a1a-43f7-9f1b-0c46d7740107

it1