Wednesday, February 23, 2022

My Alma Mater the Regional Engineering College (Now NIT) Srinagar Sixty Years Past.

Er.H.R.Phonsa Chartered Engineer B.E(Civil), MIE, Life Member, IRC and IOV Email: zeniths & Ex. EXECUTIVE ENGINEER  -0191-2432712, M-+91-9419134060 ,+917051203406 Civil Structures Design consultants. OFF/RES #63/5 NANAK NAGAR, JAMMU TAWI(J&K,UT)180004. Empaneled GOI Valuer with WT (I -T) Dept. and Various Banks, Writer of Two Books and Dogri Poems, Participant in Radio and TV programs Maintain Blogspot: Dalit Vision whose views are over 2 Lacs’ ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- My Alma Mater the Regional Engineering College (Now NIT) Srinagar Sixty Years Past. (Enlarged and updated my write up On the Eve of the Golden Jubilee celebrated on 7th May, 2001 by Alumni Association at Jammu). By: - Er. Hem Raj Phonsa alias Hem Raj Second Batch (1961-66) I had the proud privilege to be the student of II Batch (1961-1966) of the Prestigious Regional Engineering College (Now NIT with Deemed University status) Hazratbal Naseem Bagh Srinagar. It was one of the Fourteen REC’S started in Nineteen Sixties, throughout our country, to impart technical training to Indian students. The first admission in the college to the first Batch (1960-1965) was in September 1960. Shri Raj Kumar Abrol (Now Dr. R.K. Abrol) from Jammu was the first student to be enrolled in the college. He maintained his first position in the college merit list in all esteems when he passed out in 1965.Then Our college had only three esteems namely Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering with intake of 90 students per batch. In the subsequent years more Engineering streams were added and student intake also increased. The admission in the REC’S then was on the basis of the marks obtained by students in the Intermediate (F. Sc) examination with non-medical subjects. The interstate students were 50% from the other Indian states /UT’s on reciprocal basis. This REC was the dream child of zenab Bakashi Gulam Mohamad, a National Conference leader, who served as the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir from 1953 to 1964. Baskashi Sahib’s vision was to train state’s own engineers from this institution, who will shield responsibilities of sate’s progress in engineering fields. The GMC Srinagar was started in 1959, In Lal Mandi Srinagar. The 1962 being election year, more students were admitted and on passing out they faced employment problems and some were recruited even drafts men, a rare instance in the Government Departments Engineering profession. Some retired as Assistant Engineer (now AEE) and majority as Executive/ Superintending Engineers, only a few lucky could rise as CE’s. The REC college location was carefully selected in the world famous picturesque Naseem Bagh full of chinar trees, on the Bank of Dal Lake, with nearness to the Nagin Lake, Nagin club and Hazratbal Muslim Shrine, all world acclaimed places and the prides of Kashmir. Naseem Bagh had the distinction of being one of the beautiful Mughal Gardens (With no flowers beds like of Srinagar’s famous bags like Shalimar, Chesham Shahi, Harban, Nishat,Hariparbat) having been constructed in 1586 AD by Great Mughal Emperor Akbar (1543 - 1605 A.D). In it 1200 Chinar trees planting was carried by Shah Jahan emperor in 1686. During our stay it had about 700 Chinar trees, many with majestic height and spreads. The nearness of the college campus to world famous Muslim shrine Hazratbal, also called Dargah Sharif, Assar-e-Sharif and it houses the sacred hair relic (Moi-e-Muqqadas) believed to be of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Holy Moi-e-Muqaddas is displayed for Darshan-Dedar to public only on special occasions. In addition to daily prayers Friday prayers are held as a routine event in the Dargah Sharif, so it was an ever-busy place. The college site was sharing common periphery with Kashmir University (Now Naseem Bagh is part of its campus) campus overlooking famous and romantic Mughal gardens, the most visited places in Srinagar, Kashmir. Kashmir University had very few buildings then. Charchenar an island famous place was at half an hour shikara drive. The REC was 15kms from Srinagar on Leh road opposite to the present day Mazzar ( Grave) of Sher-e- Kashmir Zenab Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah, the first Prime Minister (now called Chief Minister) of J&K State (Now UT). College site was also surrounded by orchards of Zakura , Gulab bagh, Tel Bal etc. famous for cashmere delicious apples. The institution was fully residential with modern messing arrangements and housed in the old single storey wooden barracks built with typical Kashmiri style of pitched wooden roofs. The college had established a huge library with quality books and magazines. The construction of campus where the present NIT is located was started sometime in 1963. I last visited the College present campus in 1991,when my son Vishal ,got admission in first semester. I found my college, a changed world but the old campus mess meals royalties and delices were missing. Here under I reproduce from my aging memory, the teaching staff, office, administration, messing, health care, social binding in campus with some sweet and sour instances. The college atmosphere was all joyous, fun, friendly except some unfortunate instances on the occasions of match winning/ losing by India or Pakistan, when atmosphere showed unfortunate happening. Teaching staff: - The college administrative and teaching staff faculty then was perhaps the best. Principal; Dr. (Prof.) Z.U. Ahmed: - A highly qualified Electrical Engineer himself. He was strict disciplinarian with high qualities of administrative skills. He was true to his words. The College owes a lot to him for his vision and administrative skill. When his car entered in college campus it seemed that even Chinar leaves observed discipline in murmurings. Sh. Chand Mal, ICS, the college Dean: - A British time bureaucrat, visionary, College dean and strict disciplinarian. He was lover of merit. He ordered games and NCC as compulsory. I was unfortunate to not see him. Registrar: - Sh Panna Lal an economic expert, one time principal of G.G. M. Sc (Arts) College Jammu, strict but accepted things, if one could convince him by logic. Dy. Registrar: - Sh. H.L. Choudhari an advocate by profession, sharp in action, intelligent, thin, lean but tall personality. He took lot of interests in the welfare of the college and students. I remember when in a mob my classmate asked his, “Sir, yeh kaya badshi hai”? Mr.Choudhari replied, “I excuse you because you my son, do not know what you are Saying”. Prof. R.P. Jareth (HOD Chemistry dept.):- A tall, well built personality with thick eye glasses. One he told in our class, his eye glasses were specially designed in foreign country, when he got blinded during some laboratory experiments. He was par excellent metallurgical expect of his times. He was capable to deliver lecture in all classes in almost all main Engineering subjects from first year to final year. He narrated once in class that he was lucky to attend the meeting of scientists, when first Atom bomb was designed in America. He was strict disciplinarian, highly qualified and gentle at heart. He was moving museum by himself. He used to narrate many interesting stories in the class room about his carrier. He was jolly at times. He was said to have failed his own son who was his student too. But did not change his decision even when his whole family revolted against him. Prof. Jareth told in his narration, when his whole family revolted in one voice against his action told them, “I can bear, as a father, my son’s education expenditure for one year but as a teacher cannot allow him to sit in the next lass with less merit.” Later his son was reported to have earned laurels for his exemplary good work. His class notes served as book for reference. Once he told in our class to a non-serious student “Had you been my son and I had a pistol in my hand, I would have shoot you dead?” He was also jolly at times. Once in an examination when a student nervously loudly said “Water”, Prof. Jareth asked him politely “Do you want, my son, to take water or make water?” Dr. Prof. Dr. Qazi Abdul Rehman- (HOD Mathematics). He was a world class Mathematical authority with triple PhD, visiting professor to many world universities. In his free lecturers he talked of “Ten Dimension”, problems, then a Greek to us. He was jolly person, always ready to answer any question instantly but in an impressive way. He was not much bothered about his dress and often spoke tasty Lakhani Urdu. Once he was wearing woolen over coat with a rain coat on a sunny day. Students enquired reasons to which he quickly replied “You cannot believe the weather of Kashmir and government of Pakistan, as to when it will change”. On small differences with the college principal, he resigned his job saying “You are not the only principal of my life”. Dr Prof. A. D. Daru (HOD, Civil Eng.): Thin body frame person with high qualities of head and heart. Simple and gentle, sweet voice, never taking punitive action to our mischief’s. His mild voice made it difficult to grasp fully his expert teaching. He acted as stop gap arrangement College Principal. Dr Sayed Rais Ahmed (HOD Physics-Electronic Depts.) :- Extremely well educated, experienced with seriousness in teaching. He was later made Vice chancellor of Kashmir University. Reportedly he finally retired as Director NCERT New Delhi. Mrs. Dr. Shakti Rais Ahmed; - The only woman teacher of college. She used to teach chemistry. Intelligent, laborious and strong disciplinarian. She was wife of Dr. Rais Ahmed. They lived in the college campus, staff house. Monis Riza (HOD of Humanities dept. and Dean): - Professor of English with political maneuverability of mind. Very friendly with the students and at times compromised with student indiscipline. He took over as Principal of REC from zenab Dr. Prof. Z.U. Ahmed. Hereafter discipline in college was causality. He later served as vice chancellor of Delhi University Delhi. A friend said he was M.A. Geography. Dr Kazmi; - He was civil engineer having earned distinction of obtaining PhD in structural engineering from U.K university with out doing his Post graduation. Handsome personality, mostly using Urdu language even while teaching. Casual in his dressing. Simple, intelligent human, who later authored many reputed books on design of structures, theory of structural analysis. He taugh us subject of Advance Analysis of Structures. Sardar Balwant Singh (workshop Superintendent): - Jammu based sardar ji , owning a car besides college principal. He was seen always busy in the college work shop. He designed and got fabricated college Main Gate and swimming poll equipment. The swimming pool was installed in the Dal Lake opposite to college gate. It was land mark of our college. Dr Qazi (HOD Mechanical Eng.) :- Very jolly fellow, tall, well built. He used to speak a tasty Lukhnawi styled Urdu in class room too. Intellegent, but always discoursed students about their future, which as per him was bleak as engineer. His oft repeated verse to his students was “ Mian Jayo Tell Bechoo aur Jayo Hazratbal main Cycle Puncher ki Dukan Kholo”. His remarks evoked many students to change their subject esteems and shifted to Civil Esteem and passing out we in Civil Engineering were about 80, so faced difficulties in getting service. Many found employment as Draftsman and Technical Assistants equivalent to Junior Engineer. Dr.O.N. Wakhloo: - Son of the soil, a civil engineer, then professor and Estate’s officer. Later he served as the REC Principal (1977-82). He was very active with a possessed a sharp memory till his passing away recently. He was local examination paper modulator, so he was reported to favor some students in this respect. He also acted as Chairman J&K IEI Srinagar for years. Dr Bhamroo:-The mathematics teacher and perhaps first PhD in Mathematics from J&K State. He was intelligent, gentle but had a very piercing voice, with little control over his students in the class. Sardar Parvin Singh (Prof. Engineering Geology);- Jammu based Sadar ji, was an Intelligent, gentle but master of his subject “ Engineering Geology”. He was author and later principal of Camp College Jammu. He was sole light behind planning and construction of MBSCET Babliana Jammu. I kept contact with him for long, he has now passed away. Chandersheikhar: A south Indian Civil Engineer and a soft spoken friendly teacher. He used to teach us land survey. During night classes he explained about celestial body. He also taught about latest quick and accurate survey techniques. After my final examination he offered by to get teaching job, but I refused for which later I regretted by mistake. Besides these there was a large staff for all streams. It is difficult to remember all names after 55 years, I wish, I could remember and share their names here but sorry to do so. The jolly Character of lecturer Saxena, one can hardly afford to miss. He at times looked after mess supervision. Once a lethargic student from Bareilly “Sangi” sent his room boy to bring his breakfast in his room, when the practice stood banned. Mr. Sexena was in the mess, so he carried breakfast for Mr. Sangi, saluted him and told the him politely to avoid it in future. I was eye witness to this instance. Other note worth personalities of our times were, Prof. Burns (U.K) electrical faculty, Sh. A.K. Ghose (HOD Mining), Sh. K.R. Acharya (first HOD Mech. Engg), Sh. G.L. Labru ( Lect. Humanities ), Sh. S.M. Zaki , U.N. Tiwari (both Lect. Math) sh. M.A. Khan ( Lect. chemistry) Dr. S. Ahmed Ali ( Prof. Physics), Sh. Abu Salim( Lect. in Civil Engg.) Mr. Dewan our Mess superintendent, Mr. EL.VEE our college librarian and hostel warden, Lecturer’s G.S Razdhan, C. L Bhan of town planning. Sh. C.L Bhan was serious teacher where as Razdhan always promised to give notes in his next class, but that day never happened and we depended upon what Mr. Bhan taught. Prof. Bhan was repoted to have passed away, may the generous soul rest in peace. Mr. Razdhan later served in Jammu Dev. Authority, established his private office too. Dr. Ali Baksh and Haji Gulam Hussein were our college campus health dispensary in charge and Sh. Gulam Mohd. Bhat office superintendent. S. Haji Gulam Hussein in his medical advice always said “You have no problem, take this mixture and be healthy”. Our office Surinetendant Mr. G.M. Bhat later Dy. Secretary in Civil Secretariate.He was very nice and extremely helpful to anybody approached him for help particularly students.. Alternative education improvement efforts: - REC Srinagar had summer working, so the principal used to call visiting professors from Aligarh, Roorkee and other colleges to teach us by conducting special classes during their summer vacations. Dr A.S. Arya of Roorkee university, an author and authority on structural designing including Earthquake engineering, taught us design of structures. He was later Director Earthquake Engineering, played major role in writing Code for Earthquake Resistant Design and Construction of Buildings. Dr. Jain structural design wizard and many others used to visit and teach us. Dr. Barkat Singh Hydraulic expert. When our college closed for winter vacations, students were sent to colleges of summer zone for practical classes. This way the students were kept busy through out the year. The college used to hum with yearlong activities, aimed at developing over all personalities and skills of the students. High dignitaries who visited college then: - Prof. Humayum Kabir, the union minister for scientific research and cultural affairs visited the college to inaugurate it. Morarji Desai Union Minister of Finance and later Prime Minister of India; Zenab Dr. Zakir Husain Vice President of India, later the President of India; M.C. Chagla an eminent jurist, CJ of Bombay HC from 1947-58, and Union Minister of Education; Col B.N. Zaidi, M.P and ex. vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University; G.M. Sadiq State Cabinet Minister, later state CM and Chairman of the Board of Governors of REC. Another dignitary visited was Padma Bhushan Awardee, Dr. K.L Rao himself an author, as eminent Dam design Engineer, who enjoyed undisputed authority on dam design world over. He was Union Minister (1962-70) for Irrigation and Power. His son was also REC student. Dr. Rao gave a lecture on Dam Building, where he introduced himself jokingly as “Dam Engineer”, pronouncing Dam as “Damn”. Celebration of college day 1964; - Although our college stated academic activities from Sept. 1960, but the first college day was formally celebrated on October10.1964, when college premises kept humming with activities of sorts, for days. Dr Z.U. Ahmed our worthy principal received the chief guest zenab G.M. Sadiq Chairman of the Board of Governors of college at 7.15 pm. Eight meritorious student were honored prominent among them were R.K. Abrol, Sudesh Sapolia, N.M. Bhandari , Dharam Pal Luthra, M.S. Mubasshir. I being vegetarian got a meat bone in rice Pulao, so I had to go without meals that night without any regrets. College Mess: - Since it was a residential institution, so a good mess was the necessary. In the initial days the messing arrangements were poor. Mr.Sangi ,II batch student was surprised when he saw cooks kneeling floor by feet. Therefore, students resorted to strike. We came to Srinagar and met Nassar –Ulla IAS, then divisional commissioner Kashmir and also Son in law of Bakshi Sahib, the state Prime Minister. When he contacted our principal, who in turn asked him to send back all students to the college. Next day the principal addressed us and said “Give me a fortnight’s time, there after your mess shall be second to none in Kashmir except Army mess”. He carried his promise and our mess was made exemplary. New cooks were also recruited from Ramnagar, Jammu province, who prepared homely meals served Chappies with Desi Ghee top dressing. In Breakfast we were served Bread, tea, sealed fresh dairy milk 200 ml bottle, egg, butter 20gms. Those who were vegetarians like me got one milk bottle in lieu of an egg. Saturday special meals were introduced, quality and quantity of meals were made extremely good. Saturday special dinner had many guests’ invitee, students from GMC Srinagar also, where messing arrangements were poor. Student discipline: - All students were ordered to wear college uniform not only in classes, but in mess and while going to bazaar. Students had principal’s orders to move like engineers all the times. Only four monthly passes were allowed to juniors to visit Srinagar city. Students were advised to avoid going to cinema, if they go then, to sit in the First Class only. No noise was allowed in the common room or tuck shop. NCC and games were compulsory for every one. All students to be in their rooms before nine in the night. Senior students were respected like professors and seniors lend helping hands to the juniors. Racking of new student was officially banned but it was carried regularly, Chori-Chori. No physical injury or insult was caused in the racking. The students were provided services of room boys to attend to the personnel needs of the students. When I visited Kashmir in 2008 and went with my family including my first small granddaughter Shreya, now 11th class student, we had a for shikara ride from Nagin Lake to Hazratbal Shrine, the shikara (a small beautifully decorated boat used for site seeing) rower, person recognized me, and on enquiry he turned out be my room boy “Gulla” during college days. We were happy to meet each other after many years. Common Kashmiri peoples, particularly rural toiling masses are good at heart, extremely hospitable. but show their helplessness to politically motivated mob mentalities and police action, excesses. College clubs: - To get engaged the students in cultural, social and physical activities a number of clubs were established. I also visited Shri Amaranth Holy Cave as member of Himalayan club in 1966 via Sona Marg- Baltal . To give outside exposure to the students College educational tours were conducted for seeing different sites of engineering interests. In 1966 college tour my batchmates had a chance to see places in Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, UP, Bhakra and Pong Dam sites. I still remember when our college bus, we were travelling to Massouri, was saved by God’s Act falling down the hill slope. We were saved miraculously and had second birth. College magazine: - Our college magazine was named “Sabzar” and its first issue was published in 1964. It carried many interesting articles,cartoons and detailed of college activities. It carried my article “Analysis of a Bank Bencher” on its page no 245. I still have preserved that first issue in my personal library having stock of about 600 books. Sharing Moments of Joy and Sorrows; - The college staff and students not only shared moments of joys but of sorrow too. On the sad demise of Pt. Jawaharlal Lal Nehru Indian Prime minister and John f. Kennedy the President of USA, condolence meetings were held in the college. Many joined memorial service of or class mate messiah, who died there. The college remained off. Mathematical aids: To carry the mathematical calculations, only log tables and foreign made slide rules were available. Slide rule had a sliding scale between a calibrated Ivoryframe fixed on its ends. The number calibrations on the scales were so made that the slide rule carried all types of calculations with a degree of accuracy up to two places of decimal. The electronic calculators were not invented so not available in the market. A Germany made Slide rule then costed Rupees Fifty-five, a big price indeed. Communication means: - The only system of communication available to college wards was Post Office for mails and private and govt. busses for transport . We depended on letters for messages, money orders from homes. The principal office had a telephone connection. For commoners telephone was made available in the post office lately. At times we used to go to city on foot, particularly in winter when it snowed heavily in valley. Some personnel experiences: - We used to go around the Dal on bi-cycle which was available on demand from a cycle shop at Hazratbal on daily charges of half a rupee. Some times two of us shared the cycle ride for economy. Many of us had normal Sunday routine to go round around Dal Lake on Bi -cycle and visit to Shankaracharya Hill top temple. In 1964, college campus had over 3 feet snow sheet, whole of Dal Lake got frozen and people enjoyed walking on it besides seeing the “Hangies” pulling their boats. Even a jeep run was conducted on Dal Lake near Dal Gate. Our mess got stopped temporarily so we have had daily, to walk to Srinagar city on foot for meals and back late in the night. The NCC uniform especially long boots made our life warmer during long walks. There was no water heating system in our college bath rooms. A water boiler was installed sometime after 1964, which eased our bathing problems in winter. Earlier we took bath with cold water year long and some students went to city for hot water bath in barber shops or “Saloons”. College Students Strike: -A strike was resorted to by students for what demands, I did not know. Many students were rusticated. The principal did not agree to take back the rusticated students. Later these rusticated students were awarded Degrees on passing all examinations with restriction of not allowed to join government service. This became a main cause to change Dr. Z.U. Ahmed as principal. The atmosphere started deteriorating in the college premises from this onwards. Some un- matching and un- forgettable events: - Some student planned a joy marriage event in the college. The arrangements for the entertainment were made in the new campus for the barat (marriage party) reception which was to come from the old campus. Two students were selected to act as bride and bridegroom vollentrily. Sh. Avtar Singh Biri (later Wazir, retired as CE PWD (R&B)) played the pivotal management role. When the barrat was about to reach the new campus with band plying and dancing. Some students went to prof. Monis Riza, the college Dean, telling him that a great law and order problem was in making by Jammu students as the student acting by as bride was a Muslim boy. Monis Riza came to spot to stop the act saying in a cinema style “Yeh shadi Nahi Hogi ”. This way the event was forced to end unceremoniously. Dr. Bandey’s clinic: - In Barrak “M” where Mr. Bandey a student of my batch was staying had put up a sign board “Poshida Amraj ka Mahir Dr, Bandey”. I had not met Bandey after college days, I wish he is in good health. Chewing dinner coupon; - The course of copying in examination had set its foot in REC as well but in very small way. Never in my life I had taken to copying, but in the paper of Electronics, which I was feeling doubts to pass, I joined this wrong practice. The paper was in the evening, so I put two papers chits in my pocket, one with answer to a question and other my dinner coupon. Our daily mess entry pass had three parts. Search was carried by Prof. Allag (Electrical) and in fear I put my hand in my pocket to destroy the copying coupon in my pocket. One paper piece was taken out and put into my mouth with out seeing it. The checking also stopped before my turn came. In the evening when I reached dining hall and took out my dinner coupon to be deposited at the entry, I was surprised to find the coupon with copying material in my pocket in- stead of dinner coupon, which I had chewed. I had already failed in a similar effort in my Intermediate practical when I failed to retrieve from my pen cap a paper piece carrying recording for a pendulum practical recording. On my narration it to my friends, all made good fun of me. These were my failed attempts to try unfair means. There are still many small stories in my memory which explains our days in REC. One or two students never purchased tooth paste but daily borrowed it from one student or the other. My Sunday Mustard Oil body massaging was joined by many as fun. A jolly but naughty “ I” Barrack Student when fined by Warden to go to city without a valid pass, he told warden, sir passes are only four and he had to go to city daily so please take fine for full month once, it will safe yours and mine daily worries. Engineering Professions: - One of our visiting professors during college days warned by saying “When an engineer fails, a doctor comes in”. He again said “When a doctor fails, he kills one at a time, but a failure of an engineer can create havoc”. He advised us to be careful while designing structures. One of state bureaucrat later Additional Secretary in GOI once sarcastically commented about engineers before me. Although I was his subordinate, still I replied him forcefully “When after a centaury you shall look back, you shall see our engineer’s foot prints only”. He again shot back saying what about bureaucratic work. I told him your files shall be eaten by white ants but not structures created by engineers. He was convinced. I told him the Taj Mahal, Lal Qualla, Qutab Minar, Jamia Masjid, Parliament House, Rashtarapati Bhawn, Mughal Gardens of Kashmir and elsewhere with many other old engineering feats are testimony to it. My Greatest joy with Surprise: - My place of birth Village Pakhri, presently falling in Distt. Samba was an unknown remote border village, 3-4 kms from International Border with Pakistan. This Village then had 99.9% illiterates, devoid of communication means with no cemented house, school etc. On my admission to REC Srinagar, when my name was displayed on college notice board, hung from a Chinar tree trunk, it gave me unbound joy to see that wounder for which I thanked God Almighty. With all good wishes to past and present Associates of REC(NIT) Srinagar. I pay my highest regards to those departed souls of REC teachers and students who have joined back the eternal world, may all these souls rest in peace. I also pay my regards to those who spare time to go through this long essay. Words---- 4778 Er. HEM RAJ Phonsa Place: - Jammu E Mail: - WhatsApp Number: +919419134060 Dated: 21th January,2022 Blogspot: Dalit Vision with over 2,00,000 views REC Alumni, Batch 1961-66 Photo view of REC (NIT) old Campus, Nageen Badh in winter.

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