Silver jubilees are not uncommon, yet 25 years as head of an educational institution is indeed something of a rarity. That achievement has just been recorded by Stephen DaCosta, Principal and Manager of the Frank Anthony Public School in Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi. After teaching in reputed schools in Lucknow and Allahabad, DaCosta joined FAPS in 1989 as Vice-Principal and was appointed to the top slot in 1992. Teaching English literature is his specialty. Under his stewardship the school, which caters to 3,500 students and prepares them for examinations conducted by the CISCE, has grown in both sizeand stature. A series of awards have been earned by DaCosta, most prominent among them being the HRD Ministry’s National Award for Teachers, which was presented to him in 2007 by the President of India. He has served on the managing committee of leading schools across the country. A man of many parts, Stephen is an active social worker who has been president of the New Delhi YMCA. A tireless worker for his community, he is the long-standing president of the Delhi Branch of the All India Anglo Indian Association and has been a member of thenational executive of the organisation. Awards etc were recently overshadowed by the “recognition” extended by FAPS at a function to mark his 25 years of sterling service. While colleagues lauded his professional prowess, what was outstanding was the respect, admiration and love exuded by the students ~ a schoolteacher could ask for nothing more.
The only permanently-based British knight in Delhi, Sir Mark Tully, fell seriously ill some time back and surprisingly enough only one local paper reported his admission to a Saket hospital. Hopefully he has recovered now and gone back home. Sir Mark’s No1 East Nizamuddin house became a landmark after his retirement as BBC Bureau Chief in India. Just adjacent to the Siri City wall of Alauddin Khilji, he shared the residence with his live-in partner Gillian Wright, herself a writer, who has acquired a rare proficiency for a Briton in spoken Urdu and literature.Except for short visits to meet his family in England, Sir Mark faces Delhi’s climate of extremes with great fortitude. He did a feature film for the Railways on the romamce of steam engines some years ago, travelling on trains through the length and breadth of the country, which endeared him to many. He also acted in a film on the “Mutiny” of 1857, in which he rode a horse in period costume.
The last time one met him was in February at the Gymkhana club, where he sat under a shamiana on a secluded seat, taking down copious notes, probably for a column he writes for a Delhi paper. Now 81, one hopes Sir Mark will grace the Delhi socio-cultural scene for many years to come.
Usually people are afraid to change~ obviously who wants to come out of one’s comfort zone? But a colleague came across a group of male teachers in Ranchi, who changed themselves after attending “a few lectures”. Surprisingly, those lectures were not meant for them but students in their schools. The colleague, who was on a field visit to schools in Kunthi district of Jharkhand, organised by an NGO, interacted with some students and teachers trying to check the impact of intervention. The NGO, which works for gender equality, had held some sessions for middle school students in Kunthi district. During the interaction, the students, particularly boys, informed how the sessions changed their lifestyle. They recounted how they now treated girls as equal, worked at home, helped their mothers in household work and several other changes in their daily lives. Once done with the students, our colleague turned to the teachers, who also shared their experience following these sessions. To our friend’s surprise, many of them enthusiastically informed how these session changed their thinking and so their lifestyle. Among a host of changes, now many of them have started cooking or helping their wives to cook. As can be expected, this feedback brought a big smile on the faces of the organisers standing there.
Overheard: If nothing else, the new set of currency notes are certainly a colourful lot ~ one can now spend by the colour!
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Contributed by: Keith Flory, R V Smith, Rakesh Kumar and Asha Ramachandran