July 12, 2024

Moulding minds for a new India.

As voices of patriotism and demands for an independent India rose across the country and the city, there were few who thought about the young minds that must be prepared for the tasks ahead. Two of these were on Malabar Hill. Two who had totally diverse aims – C. T. & M. T. Vyas, who wished a traditional education for locals,based on the spirit of nationalism expressedby MohandasKaramchand Gandhi and Ravindranath Tagore, and the other was Mrs. Tree who wanted to educate girls of expatriates and those of officers posted in India.

New Era School. (Founded in 1930)

Two Vyas brothers from Rajpipla, Bharuch District, after graduating from Ahmedabad, soon came under powerful influence of the Theosophical Society headed by Dr. Annie Besant. Their desire was to impart idealistic Indian education and they first started a residential school on the banks of the Narmada River and then moved to Bombay, the largest city in the west.

In Bombay the Seth GokuldasTejpal Charities leased land and building on Hughes Road (Nayamurti Sitaram Patkar Marg) for 99 years for the purpose of establishing the school. Mr. M. T. Vyas took it upon himself to find the necessary funds and mould Indian minds of both, girls & boys. It was the ethos of nationalism, without disrespecting other cultures that made this school unique. When several teachers chose to wear homespun cloth (khadi) clothes. Where the school’s anthem was composed by PinakinTrivedi, a student from Tagore’s Shantiniketan. Where the building itself was adorned with a mural depicting Gandhiji’s life. 

Gujarati was the medium of instruction, English was compulsory after standard IV and French or Sanskrit were elected subjects. Understanding of Indian music and dance, interaction with great artistes was made possible by the Vyas family, who lived on the premises. Today, over 85 years later all those who had the privilege of studying at this great institution are proud alumni, and have happy memories of Mr. M. T. Vyas. 

Walsingham High School for Girls (Founded in 1940)

Mrs. Tree established a school to educate girls of expatriates and officers posted in India in a small building in Oomer Park. In 1944 this was bought over by Mrs. Adcock and in 1950 moved to larger premises on Warden Road (Bhulabhai Desai Marg) as locals too sought the merit of an ‘English education’ for their little girls. More and more families wanted admission and in 1953 the school moved to the Kutch Castle on Nepean Sea Road (L. Jagmohandas Road).

It was a magnificent golden sandstone castle built on a plot along the Arabian Sea, and thus called ‘Dariya Mahal’. It was just a ground + one structure, which required construction of an additional floor to meet the needs of the school. Over the last 75 years it has nurtured the spirit of its founders, and introduced ‘little ladies’ to the country. Unfortunately ‘Time Changes Everything’! Gone are the days of Indian idealism. Both the schools have changed hands. New Era has been bought over by the Aditya Birla Group and Walsingham High School is surrounded by developer Mittal’s ‘Dariya Mahal’ high rises.   

Anita Garware ,Chairperson INDIAN HERITAGE SOCIETY-MUMBAI & Resident of Malabar Hill