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Speech delivered by Shri Navin B. Chawla at 162nd Founder’s Day Function of The Lawrence School, Sanawar (October 3rd and 4th, 2009)
The Headmaster, Shri Praveen Vasisht, Members of the Body of Governors, the teachers and staff, Old Sanawarians, parents and students of the School.
It is a great honour for me to be invited to our School as Chief Guest. Little could I have ever imagined in the years since I left Sanawar that one day this privilege would be mine. Being here today, today will always be an important milestone in my life. May I thank the Headmaster and Members of the Board of Governors for conferring on me this opportunity.
From the Headmaster I have been keeping myself abreast of the progress that the School has been making over the last several years. Which Sanawarian will not be happy to note that the ranking of the School has gone up from the 6th place in 2008 to the 4th place this year. In the publication entitled “Educational World”, Sanawar now ranks as Number 5 in its list for the ‘Academic Reputation’, Number 4 in the ‘Competence of Faculty’, and importantly, is up from Number 5 to Number 3 in the ranking of ‘Honesty and Integrity’.
I spent nine years in school from 1953 to 1961. I would like to share the background of those early years with you, because those years were also a part of our shared history. The year 1953 was just six years after we gained our Independence, and the shadows of partition still loomed over many of our parents and indirectly over our lives. Yet it was a new awakening. Although Sanawar was founded in 1847, it was then a different School with a different ethos for only British students. These were children of British soldiers of the British Army, usually the other ranks, who could not afford to send their children to a School in England. It was only after we became independent in 1947 did Sanawar start to acquire a different ethos and a different way of life. We became an Indian School for ‘Indian Students’. So, in many senses while we were an old and historic School, but we were also a young School with Indian students beginning to acclimatize both Western and Indian values.
Many of the old Sanawarians present today especially the group of 1959 will have shared many aspects of these formative years of growing up and beginning to understand that new environment. Many important principles of my life were imbued over those years and have hopefully stood me in good stead.
In my speech today, I would of course like to draw upon my own experiences as a student. All of us present today are equally committed to the School, by a shared special bond that would like the School and its students to excel even further.
If I was asked to point out some of the important lessons that I had learned in Sanawar in my formative years, I could summarize it in a sentence by saying it was how to play the game of life. In the game of life, there are always winners and losers, but we were especially taught to be good losers. Not everybody can come first; somebody has to come second and somebody has to come last. We learned never to belittle those who struggled to keep up. It was always natural to look up to our achievers, and to this day I continue to have special regard for the achievers of my time, irrespective of their present station in life.