TRIBUTE TO AN EMINENT EDUCATIONIST
SINDHU RATAN – LATE PRINCIPAL K. M. KUNDNANI
by Dayal Asha
There comes a time in the history of an individual, a community, a nation when the need arises to look back – a need to go back to the roots, not in order to travel backwards but to draw inspiration and sustenance for the journey ahead. With passing away of Barrister Hotchand G. Advani (1991) and Principal K. M. Kundnani (1992), the two founder members of the Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board, we look back today at these towering personalities with sorrow and with pride. Sorrow that they are no more amongst us with their sense of values that people with long years of struggle and experience acquire; pride in the glory of these foundation pillars of education from our community.
These were men of spirit, willing to take up the challenge of fulfilling a vision. Its difficult for us today to even realize what determination, zeal and doggedness that must have been pursued by those, thrown out of their homeland and facing the question of resettlement, to foresee in such troubled times of the partition, the need to do something for their community. Not through politicking, not through charity but by providing opportunities for a community to stand on its own feet – with respect, with dignity, with independence. Yet, if this service had been restricted to their community, one could dismiss these figures as narrow and parcochial. But one finds that the doors of learning that they opened were open to one and all. So that rising from the needy position of refugees, both, Mr. K. M. Kundnani and Mr. H. G. Advani worked their way up to a position from where they actually started contributing – by setting up, slowly but steadily, a chain of twenty colleges and eight institutions – opening doors for so may young people to jobs, to education and training in various fields. Students of these institutions must take inspiration from these men. For it was not only an instinct for survival which made these men what they became, but instinct combined with a broad vision and relentless hard work.
K. M. Kundnani was born on 24th August 1904 at Hyderabad Sind. His father Shri Motiram Kundnani was a humble soul and saint. He was a brilliant student during his school life and always stood first in studies as well as in games. He studied First Year at D. J. Sind College, Karachi and later on joined Elphistone College Bombay, where he completed his studies. During his college life, he took interest in indoor and outdoor games and represented the University of Bombay, several times.
In 1930, he joined Rishi Dayaram Gidumal College, Hyderabad as lecturer. By dint of his effort and efficiency he became the Principal of the same college in 1947. The student community was dear to him and he was always ready to help the poor and needy students.
After partition, Principal Kundnani came to Bombay and established Rishi Dayaram Gidumal National College at Bandra within four months of his arrival in the city. It was the first college of the Sindhi community having its own college building. The college became popular within a short period.
From there began a long journey during which, with the sustained support and advice of Barrister H. G. Advani, the Principal set up various institutions – all in the service of education.
Principal K. M. Kundnani with the help, co-operation and guidance of the revered Late Dada H. G. Advani, established Kishanchand Chellaram College at Churchgate, Bombay in 1954. He got the building ready within six months. He himself was the architect and became the Founder Principal of K. C. College, Bombay. Afterwards he established H. R. College of Commerce, K. C. Law College, C. H. M. College, B. Ed. College of Education, Pharmacy College, Gopaldas Advani Law College, M. M. K. College, Thadhomal Shahani Engineering College and other colleges.
Even today, retiring professors at Chandibai recall how, in the 1963’s when the College building was being constructed, K. M. Kundnani who was also the Principal of K. C. Kundnani College since its inception, would travel to Ulhasnagar from Churchgate to supervise the construction personally. He continued to take care of the K. C. administration till his death at the age of 88 years. Professors interviewed by Principal Kundnani were always amazed by his sharp memory and probing intelligence even at the age of 88 years. He also remained the Secretary of the HSNC Board and in May 1991, he became the President of the Board and remained so till his death.
Principal K. M. Kundnani was the first Sindhi educationist who was awardwd Golden Plate at the hands of Education Minister, Government of Maharashtra, Prof. Ram Joshi. The function was held in Jai Hind College, Bombay to felicitate him. Principal K. M. Kundnani was a devotee of Lord Shiva and his life partner Smt. Jotu Kundnani was a devotee of Guru Nanikdevji Maharaj, who whole heartedly supported and co-operated with her husband in the cause of Education.
He was felicitated at a function at Raj Bhavan. The Governor of Maharashtra Mr. C. Subramanian presented a Gold Medal to him for his Services in the field of Education.
President of the Board Dada Hotchand Advani passed away on 9th May 1992, and Principal K. M. Kundnani became the President of the board.
Barrister Hotchand Advani, President of the Board and Principal K. M. Kundnani, both were very kind to me. When I was appointed in K. C. & H. R. College as Lecturer in Sindhi, I was only graduate. Both the great personalities encouraged me to go for further studies and with their encouragement and blessing I further studied and got M.A., Ph.D. degrees and contributed in Social Services. With their blessing I received Degree of D. Litt. from Mumbai University.
Principal Khushiram Kundnani lived true to his name Khushiram. In Sindhi “Khushi” means “Happiness”. He was kind and sweet at heart, and spread happiness amongst all around him. He had sympathy for the poor and needy students. His clear instructions to me were “no needy student should be deprived of Education”. Our Sindhi Community has already suffered a lot. Please give them maximum help.
The last dream of Principal K. M. Kundnani was to start a Medical College in Bombay. He passed away at the age of 88 years on Saturday, the 7th November, 1992 at 9 O’ clock in Jaslok Hospital, Bombay. His is the first example in the University of Bombay that a Principal at the age of 88 years looked after so many Colleges of Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board, Bombay actively. May the blessing of God, shower upon him in heaven.
Principal K. M. Kundnani was a lighthouse of learning and education. He was not an individual, but an institution. Poet Longfellow has described such jewels as :
Lives of Great men all remind us,
That we make our lives sublime
And departing leave behind us,
Foot prints on the sands of time