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Vivekananda at 150

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It was a day of January 1989. I was walking out of the campus of the Ramakrishna Mission School, Along, for good, after 13 years. The whole school of about 1200 students plus staff members was standing lining both sides of the exit road. The school band was playing and leading. I was walking behind them, of course, with other Swamis. It was with great difficulty that I was trying to suppress my emotion. Many of the students and some staff members too were shedding profuse tears. I was almost nearing the gate of the campus when my eyes fell upon a group of small children shedding tears. That undid my forbearance. I broke down; profuse tears started streaming down my cheeks.   I tried to smile, but how could I?

I had noticed also the previous day, in the school farewell function, the other­wise sedate Asstt. Principal, Suvirananda, similarly breaking down suddenly when he rose  to   propose  a  vote  of  thanks I The whole atmosphere spoke of the intimate and loving contact the students & staff of our school had with the principal who  was  my humble self. That day feelings have been the greatest certificate for my humble services at Arunachal Pradesh! This makes me remember Tulsidas who sang '0 man, when you entered the world, you wept & the society smiled. Do such good deeds in the world that when you leave it, you would smile and the world would weep'.


It was May 13th 1976 when I reached Along. It was a strange coincidence that Gautama (nanda) was taking charge of the centre from Siddhartha (nanda) on the day of the Buddha Poornima !


Within a few days I had to rush to Central Board of Secondary Education, Delhi to start the classes IX and X in our school. I found only four tribal students in class IX, one an Apatani boy, another hill Miri, another Gallong boy and the fourth, a Gallong girl, Bingam Loya. It's the last   I want to write something about.

Miss Bingam Loya was the first Gallong girl to reach class IX in our school. She was not willing to continue her studies. Reason?   Too much work at home!   I told the girl ‘Look here, you must study.   You are our 1st tribal girl to reach High School level.    I will    make all    necessary   arrange­ments for your study.   Bring your father to me'.   She did bring her father who agreed to keep her with one of our married teachers staying in our teacher’s   quarters.    This  girl continued  not only  to  pass out of class X, but  to  pass  her graduation   from  Pasighat, then  to  become a  teacher in a Govt. School and  then to  register herself for M.A.!    Two of her    children are now   studying in   our School!  Since this incident I have  felt  that just a  'push'  at  a  particular  class-level  say at Vth  etc,  can  save   many a drop-out and help  them  to  glorious achievements !


The Ramakrishna Mission school since its first CBSE class X results in 1978, had scored highest number of I class (60% aggregate) results in the state and hence it had become a tradition that every Class X student was expected to score I class result I Ono class X student, intelligent but not industrious, told in the farewell function to his brothers in the audience ' Brothers. I am quite satisfied even if I get a III class pass result but I have to struggle hard only to please our Principal Maharaj who will not be pleased otherwise ! ' The boy did pass out in I Class ! This boy had also got a ' push ' at his class VIII level when he had refused to prosecute his studies!


It was usual in our school to complete the CBSE X course before November, do two 'revisions' before the following February and then leave the students one full month's free time in which they did not attend the  schoolbut they had  to    prepare    for the 'finals'   starting   in   the   1st week of March.   Before they   went   on   leave   they were   warned    thus:    'You are   to    study, study & study.  You should    not    be   seen anywhere near   the   cinema    theatre or in any social functions until the examinations are over.  Every one sincerely followed our instructions except one girl,   Yaman Tatak, who was very extrovert and would   spend much of her time outdoors.   In   fact   the father described her thus:  ‘she is my son, not daughter. She does   not stay at home at all but always moves about in the   bazaar.  Then he   asked    'Swamiji,    can    you    make this girl also pass in Ist class?   I told   him emphatically 'Sure, you will see her passing out in First Division.  Some teachers complained one day that they saw this girl near the Cinema Theatre at Along. I summoned th3 girl and even before she could say anything, admonished her right and left. She broke down sobbing and weeping, and went away. I did not hear anything against her till the CBSE exams were over. The results of CBSE also were received a couple of months later and the girl was all smiles when she came to see her 'I class result' I Then she passed out creditably in an Business entrepreneur training at Hyderabad, started her own business enterprise at Itanagar and is now a very well placed lady there I Freedom with responsibility always pays!


'Faith, Faith, Faith. Faith in ones’ own self and faith in God. The moment an individual or a nation loses this faith, his or its death comes'. This powerful exhortation of Swami Vivekananda is repeated often by our students. This goes deep into their heart. Coupled with  this  are  the various craft subjects they learnTailoring, Typing, Printing, Art and Music, Games & Sports, Kitchen Gardening, Dairy, Poultry, Drama & Dance, Band and Gymnasticsall these go to give them such self-confidence that they looked 'a picture of self-confidence' ! As a central minister for Tribal   welfare   Sri   Giridhar    Gomango said!  One such girl, Miss. Susan Cherian, Class X, quite brilliant in academics, fell seriously ill before exams. She complained of blurred vision and watering eyes. All treatments at Along failed. Finally she sent word that she would not appear in the exams for that year, 1980! I was shocked & met her at her home. She was studying in our school from her childhood; I told her 'Susan, do you believe in Sri Ramakrishna?' She said 'yes', do you believe that He loves you and hence will give you all help & assistance you need?' She said 'yes'. I said 'then He will help you pass creditably. You come to exam hall tomorrow. If necessary, I shall arrange for a 'writer' for you, you will dictate the answer to him'. She agreed and came. The question paper was given to her and to her surprise she found that she could see the questions clearly! Then she slowly started to write. She had no difficulty at all with her eyes! It went on like this the next and the next days also. When the results came, she had passed with 77% marks in the aggregate! She later became a   doctor!


Miss. Tumbom Ete is another case to remember. She was brilliant in her studies, passed out as 'the highest scorer' amongst the state tribal students in lst class X CBSE exams of 1931. Then she joined the regional Medical College,   Imphal.

When she was a student there, I used to send   her a copy of our school   magazine 'URAPNAM' (literally, AWAKENING). She proudly showed this to one of her colleagues, a Naga girl. The latter after looking at Swami Vivekananda's picture in it remarked to Tumbom 'Who is this man whom you seem to revere much. He does not even look like a tribal'. Tumbom got so much upset at the slighting remarks that she retorted 'If you do not know this man (Vivekananda), you require to be re-educated in a school again'. Then she wrote to me about the whole incident and added'Also, Swamiji these girls do not know our national language Hindi. They don't feel proud about their dress & culture too. They are so much westernized!' What a wonderful feeling of National pride ! I narrated this incident to prove to a top IAS officer in the North Eastern region that such girls are the real hopes of our national integration! This girl is well settled Doctor in the Govt. hospital   in the state!


As soon as I saw the students of our school, I felt that they can become good footballers if given proper training. As a test I sent our school team to play against a local team but they returned well mauled by 9-0 goals! They were extremely unhappy but were determined to get trained' and make up I arranged for the coaching by an international footballer and Mardeka player, Sri Sushil Sinha of Mohan Bagan, Calcutta. After his coaching our school team started defeating all the local teams. Within a couple of years, our team became the state champion and in 1986 Subroto Mukherjae Memorial Tournament at Delhi represented Arunachal and became the Runner's up! They repeated the same performance once again in 1988. The whole country came   to   know    the    prowess    and potential of    Arunachal   Pradesh   in football through our boys.

Similarly our school Gymnastic team also represented Arunachal in 3 national meets, at Patiala, at Trivandrum and at Guwahati and was one of the 1st ten national teams. And all this our students achieved in addition to their excellent academic results!


I am convinced through this experience that in a good educational system both brain and brawn can be equally developed, head and heart can be harmoniously cultivated and an all-round personality of the student can   be achieved.

With the ex-alumni of the Ramakrishna Mission School, Along shining in every field of society viz. in Army, Police, Administration, Education, Sports & Games & Cultural activities of Arunachal, one is reminded    of Swami    Vivekanancla's    famous saying    Let   new   India arise.....from  groves and   forests,   from   hills   and   mountains !'

I   should   record   here   the    yeomen    love of and service to the people of Arunachal by Sri K. A. A. Raja, the first, Lt. Governor of the State. I also remember the meteoric rise of the present Chief Minister from an ordinary MLA to the Chief Ministership much due to his great love of his people and their culture and his enlightened national outlook. Another extra ordinary personage I remember is the Chief Secretary of Arunachal Sri I. P. Gupta who ever kept his office doors as well as his Bungalow's doors open for any and every tribal to walk in and talk to him, from morning till night! A few other extra­ordinary personages come to my mind but I have to stop here for obvious reasons. I   shall   reserve them for a future   occasion.

The Ramakrishna Mission School, Along has clearly demonstrated that the Arunachali boys and girls have every potential and possibility in them to shape as strong-bodied, rational and national minded well cultured citizens of this great country. I wish and pray that every one of our students’ struggles for this all-round development as his/her ideal and thus bring glory to him or her and   to our country as a whole.


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