William Arthur Ward has very rightly said, “The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates and the great teacher inspires.”It is a teacher who can mould a student to become Buddha or Hitler.I pay my tribute, to my ideal and mentor Cdr N N Seth, the first principal of my alma mater – Sainik School Nagrota, when I was admitted to the school 50 years back. It is he who devoted heart and soul in building the school that commenced under his abled Principalship.He was instrumental in laying the institutional foundations of the prestigious institution, whose name and fame has risen to glorious heights. Teaching us was easy but showing us what really counts was his dedication. He made men out of us and helped us to keep our heads high in a world full of temptations and distraction.We owe an infinite debt of gratitude to him for infusing a sense of discipline, brotherhood, honesty and nationalism in us. He taught us to observe rules and be disciplined to achieve success in life.For outsiders it was a school but for us he made it a sweet home. His motto was not to discriminate on basis of caste, creed and religion and be Indian first.All religious festivals like Holi, Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Gurupurab, Lohri etc were celebrated with much gusto and fervour which was truemanifestation of rich culture andtraditions.Down the memory lane, I may recall embracing muslim brothers when they returned after offering Namaz on Eid, celebrating Christmas by chanting jingle bells and locating our gifts tied to the trees on banks of river Tawi, attending prayers and offering Karsewa at Gurdwara sahib Nagrota on Gurpurab, performing bhangra and dances infront of bon-fire on Lohri, Prabhatpheri and cleaniness drive in staff quarters with all fellow students, staff members, families and Cdr Seth in the lead.Atmosphere at the school was so healthy, jolly and homely that we never felt homesick.He helped foster in me an interest in debates, dramatics and reading books except text-books prescribed in our syllabi.My memories are full of delight and joy when I recall rehearsals of plays ‘Refund’, ‘Julius Ceaser’ and ‘The Boy Comes Home’ at his residence in the late evenings.The noble lady Seth would offer us Tea and walnuts.Another incident I may recall when our school was proceeding for Bhowali (Nainital, UP) to attend NCC Camp there, Sir came to see us off at the Railway station.When the train was about to leave, he entered the bogey we were travelling in, wished us luck and said “I don’t want my boys to be second best to anybody.”This call of his infused so much confidence, zeal and encouragement in us that our school overshown all the participants (Sainik schools of North India) in all activities and events organised in the camp.Guiding us to choose the right path was his kindness but equipping us with courage to create our own path was his real talent.“There is always room at the top for those who have strength to reach it,” was his message to his boys.The saplings he planted are blossoming, shining and spreading their fragrance in the society and contributing in building the country and making him proud, wherever he is.It has been years since he left but he is missed deeply, all memories are with us and making us smile.His guidance encouraged me to whatever I have achieved in life. He was epitome of sincerity, dedication, understanding, patience and discipline.My gratitude for him grows exponentially with my age.
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