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KURUVILA JACOB BIRTH CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

The commemorative function in connection with the Birth Centenary Celebrations of Kuruvila Jacob on 3 August 2003 at the IMAGE Auditorium, Chennai, witnessed participation by a wide cross-section of people who had come into contact with the great educationist and visionary at some point in their life as well as those who, in later years, were benefited by his contribution to the schools he built up and to the educational system in general. Alumni of the Madras Christian College High School from the 1940s to the 1960s were present in large numbers, including those who made the effort to come to Chennai from other locations on that day. Past headmasters of the school, teaching staff from the Kuruvila Jacob era, the present headmaster and a large body of the present students of the school and representatives of some of the city schools who have indicated their willingness to join the Kuruvila Jacob Programme for Excellence in Education also attended. Alumni from the Hyderabad Public School and the Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai, were present too.

After high tea, the meeting, compered by G. Shanker (1960 batch), commenced with an invocation by Priya Alexander, Mr. Jacob's granddaughter, and recital of one of his favourite prayers by his daughter, Sulochana Abraham. A brilliant audiovisual, produced by Lata Menon of IRIS Films, encapsulating the events of three-quarters of a century in 18 minutes, was screened, and appreciated and applauded by all present.

N. Ram (1960 batch), Chief Editor of The Hindu Group of Publications, welcoming the audience, dwelt upon the feelings in the hearts of old students of Kuruvila Jacob that had motivated them to organise this function and launch an initiative, in respect to his memory, for achieving excellence in school education. The magnificent turnout for the function reflected the long-term collective memory of those who connected lifelong with the experience of having been in Kuruvila Jacob's school for any length of time. He referred to the quality of experience of those who were associated with the school during its "Golden Years" from 1931 to 1962.

S. Viji (1961 batch), Joint Managing Director of Brakes India Ltd. and Co-Convenor of the Centenary Celebrations Committee, gave an outline of the Kuruvila Jacob Initiative for Prmoting Excellence in School Education which was being launched that day to honour the great educationist and humanist on his birth centenary. The basic objective of the Initiative, which would be conducted in collaboration with the CII Institute of Quality, Bangalore, is to enhance the strategic and operational performance of schools in the process of imparting education to students and would embrace schools in Chennai across all streams of education: State Board, Central Board, Matric, and ISC/CSE. Twenty-two schools have already indicated their participation in the Initiative.

Delivering the Inaugural Address, Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, who was the Chief Guest for the function, dwelt upon the transformation in the role of a teacher in modern times from a primary dispenser of knowledge to a facilitator of learning tuned to the cultural and socio-economic background of the students. He pointed out that the values and methods adopted by Mr. Jacob were extremely relevant today.

Dr. Kasturirangan released the book Shaping Young Minds, a biography of Kuruvila Jacob by Ms Usha Jesudasan, and presented the first copy to Mr. P. Chidambaram.

Mr. P. Chidambaram (1960 batch), Hon'ble Union Minister for Finance, Government of India, observed that the function was more than a commemorative function, it was the celebration of the birth of a teacher who moulded the lives of hundreds of students in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Recounting his personal experiences as a student of Kuruvila Jacob, he referred to the secular nature of the school run by Christian missionaries with a large majority of Hindu students, and the inclusive nature of the education with medium of instruction in Tamil, Malayalam and English. There was no discrimination based on caste, religion or station in life of the students who studied under him.

Mr. M.K. Narayanan (1948 batch), Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, in his Special Address, said Kuruvila Jacob had the distinction of being the most respected and most celebrated headmaster of three prestigious schools of the country, and reminisced on his days in the school in the old building in George Town. He said that education does not serve much purpose unless one is taught to challenge conventional wisdom, and dwelt upon how Kuruvila Jacob taught his students to distill the essence of truth from facts instead of just accepting them, to have faith more than wisdom to overcome trials and tribulations, and not to be afraid of change., Dr. K.Venkatasubramanian, former Member, Planning Commission, and former Vice Chancellor of Pondicherry University, delivering the Presidential Address, recalled Kuruvila Jacob's courage during his association with him as District Education Officer. He endorsed Kuruvila Jacob's view that education should be student-oriented and not examination-oriented.

Dr. Venkatasubramanian released the souvenir brought out in connection with the Commemorative Function and presented the first copy to Mr. M.K. Narayanan.

Mementos were presented to the Chief Guest, Guests of Honour, President, the author of the biography, the producer of the audiovisual, Dr. M. Anandakrishnan, former Vice Chancellor, Anna University and currently Chairman, Madras Institute of Development Studies, who selflessly associated himself with the Centenary Celebrations and the Initiative for Promoting Excellence in School Education, and to Mr. I. Jairaj (1960 batch) who had made this function his dream, passion and obsession.

Mr. K.M. Mammen (1963 batch), Chairman and Managing Director of MRF Limited and Co-Convenor of the Centenary Celebrations Committee, thanked all those who attended the function and all those who had striven hard to make it a success as well as the author of the biography and the producer of the audiovisual for their brilliant and painstaking efforts.

Copies of the following are available for sale:

1. Shaping Young Minds - The Kuruvila Jacob Story By Usha Jesudasan Rs 100/- (Postage / Courier extra)

2. VCD of 3 August function Rs. 100/- (Postage / Courier extra)

3. VCD of audiovisual By Lata Menon, IRIS Films Rs. 100/- (Postage / Courier extra)

4. DVD comprising 2 & 3 Rs. 400/- (Postage / Courier extra)

Please contact:
V.Subramanian or Manoj
S.Viswanathan (Printers and Publishers) Pvt Ltd
38, Mc Nichols Road
Chetpet, Chennai 600 031
Phone: 2836 3344



The celebrated historian, Mr. S. Muthiah, has written an article on Kuruvila Jacob, in The Hindu of 14th June 2004
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