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I still remember the day, I went with Appuettan S/o Manambrakkat Bhaskara Panikker to KULAPATI V.V.PARAMESWARAN IYERS HIGH SCHOOL, Parakkunam, Sultanpett, Palakkad for admission to 5th standard. He was a student of the School, and my grandfather entrusted him the job of getting my admission. Appuettan was well connected with the Manager and Headmaster of the School Mr.Natarajan Iyer. He was a bulky and fat person with smiling face, for whom even walking was difficult.
What prompted my grandfather to make me join in V.V.P High School, still I am not able to understand. The School was not reputed for study. Those who did not get admission to other famous Schools like Basel Evangelical Mission High School or Pandit Motilal Government High School flocked to this place. I could have easily got admission to PMG School or BEM School, but he was taking precaution of company, safety and convenience to me as there was no student in those Schools from our vicinity. At that time there was no local bus service and we had to walk both to-and-fro.
Palakkad municipality came to existence in 1866. The first municipal rate School was established in 1867 which was converted into Government Victoria college in 1887. When government Victoria college celebrated its centenary in 1967, I was there as first-year B.A. Economics student. According to available information, V.V.P High School was started in the year 1875 or 1920. The exact date is not available. V.V.Parameswaran Iyer had nationalistic fervor and the British authorities used to monitor the activities of V.V.P. High School. He has written a book in English The Ideal of Truthfulness, the mythological story of Harishchandra as a retelling for the benefit of those, whose reading is confined to English books. And was published by T.S.Subramaniya & CO, Palakkad in 1897.
The Nurani Hindu High School was started in the year 1904 by Tirunellai Rama Iyer Lakshmi Narayanan. Basel Evangelical Mission High School (B.E.M) was started by the German missionaries in 1910. The Government Moyan Girls High School was started in 1918. The Pandit Motilal Government Model High School was started in 1935. So you can understand the prominence of V.V.P High School on those days, but slow deterioration has started at the time of my joining as a student.
BEM School and PMG School gave admissions on the basis of High marks and also they used to test the aspirants. V.V.P High School was the last resort of students especially from rural suburbs of Palakkad whose families had no educational background and also economically poor. The School was catering to particular segment of students. They gave admission on priority basis to students from Kulapati Junior Basic School which was part of the parent organization.
The School had ordinary shed classrooms. There were separate class rooms and also a big hall which was compartmentalised into classrooms. When it became necessary to conduct large gathering, the dividers were removed. The School had big play ground in the backside and football was played there. The School was opposite to Palakkad Head Post Office. Kulapati School and V.V.P Schools had separate entrances. They were separated by outer walls of V.V.P classrooms. There were rented shops in the building owned by the School management in the main road and the prayer meeting ground was behind these shops.
The entrance of the School faced East. In the south side there was an open auditorium. And beside and behind that there were staff room, lab and library. Managers residence was in the west. Classrooms started adjacent to the managers residence. The building construction was such that classes in the north and south side faced each other with a lawn in between. All these classes were on a Higher level ground than the prayer assembly ground. There were classrooms facing the east in the western side. There was an entrance to North side from the middle of the class rows, which separated the main building portion from the extended North side. This building had both east and west facing class rooms. East facing class rooms ended at the Kulapati School building wall. In between the class rooms and the wall compound there was a well. The well was at lower level and there was some vacant place. The west facing class rooms were at the end of the playground.
Like the north entrance, there was also a south entrance which led to the girls playground which was behind the managers residence. This entrance was also in between classes which were facing north side. Only through this entrance, you can go the girls play ground, and the boys open urinal ground. The girls and staff had closed toilet rooms where as boys had open urinals in a cubicle format with separate wall closures. The walls faced east and west. There were no roofs or doors. From this place there were two entrances one to the west and the another to north. If you went west and went through steps down you reached the football ground. In the north entrance you had to go through a big corridor which was walled and roofed and stepping down you reached the west side classes of the building near the well. The playground had no fence. On three sides of north, south and west, it was covered by houses and some houses had gates to the playground and there was small pathway near the ground end in the west, as a passage to reach the main road.
Now after physical description of the School building, its ground and layout, I am coming to the main subject of study. The lab and library facilities were minimal. There were no extra-curricular activities except sports and athletics. There was a good football team. There used to be annual day celebrations and cultural programs. we used to go to other Schools like Nurani School, Elapully Govt High School when there were football competitions, to give support to our football team.
The teachers were exceptional, hardworking and dedicated. I did not take Sanskrit language as elective as I was made to understand that it is difficult to master the language. To this day I rue my decision. Later I found that I was not adept in language learning. My grandfather, even though was Sanskrit scholar, did not ask me to choose Sanskrit as an elective subject nor taught me the language. I lacked guidance from my early years and there was no Mentor later even in life.
Those who took Sanskrit were kept in a separate division. That was the only mixed class in the School.
There were different teachers for different divisions. As there were more divisions of students. Mr. Sankaran was physical teacher and he was also NCC Officer. NCC was voluntary. I had the privilege of studying under good and efficient teachers. T.S.Krishna Iyer was mathematics and science teacher. Hindi Pandit Vasu Menon of Akathe thara was the head of Dakshina Hindi Prachar Sabha and also freedom fighter. P. Parameswara Menon of Thattamangalm Puthillath house was father of my classmate Mohan Das. For Malayalam we had Mr. Dominic, Mundoor Krishnan Kutty and T.P. Vinodini Amma. Social studies was handled by Anantha Rama Iyer, P.G.Rama Iyer, Mr Ramachandran and Mrs Ratnavally from Puthur. Other teachers were Narayanan Kutty Menon and Mr. Mathews. Narayan Kutty Menon hailed from Kollengode who stayed with Advocate Rakmachandran Nair in G.B.Road opposite to new theatre. My father was having friendship with many of these teachers. Mr. Mathews had once complained about me to my father for some mischief I have done. Mr Bala Subramanian Iyer who was head master was related to the management. The School manager’s youngest daughter V.N Bharati was married to Anantha Rama Iyer.
The pinching group of masters included Mr. Mathews, Mr. Dominic and Anupurath (Mundoor) Krishnan Kutty. Anupurath is his house name and Mundoor native place name. He has written more than 200 short stories and 3 novels in Malayalam. His story Moonamathoral (The Third Person), according to Mr. T. Padmanabhan, the top most Short Story writer in Malayalam, is one of the ten best short stories in world literature. We always eagerly waited for Krishnan Kutty master’s classes. His story telling and poetry reading were Music to our ears. He was my maternal uncle Sethumadhavan’s friend also. He was left leaning author. Later in life he acted in many films and TV Serials.
Mr. Ananta Rama Iyer was an active RSS worker. He was Bouddhik Pramukh. T.P.Vinodini Amma was in Bharatiya Jansangh Mahila Morcha and a state level leader. Mr. Bala Subramanyam Iyer’s wife M. Devaki Amma who was Head Mistress Of Moyan Girls High School became state president of Bharatiya Jansangh. Mr Dominic was a congress activist. Shri P.G Rama Iyer was an RSS sympathizer and member Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
I had not seen much student activity in V.V.P High School. But during Vimochana Samaram (protest against communist rule in Kerala) students have quit classes and joined procession of other School students. At that time my uncle Sethu Madhavan was working in Palakkad Head post-office. In 1960 when the All India postal and Railway Strike happened, he was under home remand. He used to stay in a lodge along with his colleagues, behind Mr Suri’s Tagore college which was tutorial. That was behind the post office also.
In V.V.P High School, i had many friends and classmates coming from different places. From Kottekkad Ottur house there was Gangadharan, Satish Chandran and Achuthan Kutty from Chakingal house
There was Mohandas from Puthur, Cheru Thodi Surendran, Udaya Bhaskar, Thekkumpurath Ramachandran who was epileptic and his brother Vijayan. Udaya Bhaskar later became a ward councillor from Puthur on congress ticket. He and Mohandas worked in Milma, Kallepully. Achuthan Kutty worked in premier spinning mills, Puducherry. Later he joined some mill in Bangalore. From Kavil padu, Premachandran was my friend whose father was Sub Inspector of Police. From Puducherry my friends were Kanda and Kalidasan. Due To inferiority complex, Kanda later changed his name.
My Primary School education was at Govt. L.P.School, Marutha road which was situated in Erattayal. From there Manambrakkat Siva Sankaran, Nanda Kumar and Nilanath Gopi Krishnan were there. Also there was Kuttan and Kandamuthan from my home vicinity. Kuttan was in the V.V.P.School football team as full back stopper. Kandamuthan joined BPL after leaving the School. After some time he left to join a competitor of BPL in Bangalore. There was Vijaya Kumar from Mariyil house, Marutha road who joined ITI Malampuzha for Technical training and later Joined BPL. Krishnan Unni from Marutha road, Subramanian from Kanchiram, Kunnu and Vadivelu from Kalwa kulam, Kalmandapam were also there. Nataraja stores owner, Natarajan Chettiar’s sons Govindarajan and Subash also were there.
I had the following friends from the town. They were Rajagopal, Chandra Mohan, Mohandas, Soma Sundaran and the twin brothers Balachandran and Gopala Krishnan. Chandra Mohan’s house was next to RAO BAHADUR OTTUR VASAVA MENON MEMORIAL DISTRICT AYURVEDIC HOSPITAL. Chandra Mohan’s house had a small temple in its compound in front of the house. He had premature death. Raja Gopalan’s house was in Sultanpet opposite and near to Mathru Bhumi book stall.
In front of our School gate, there was an ice-cream, soda-sherbet, semia vendor in cycle thela by name Raju. Soman’s favourite was semia. I had a friend in my class by name Balachandran (Konar) whose
Father had a hotel in the corner of Koppam and post office road junction. I used to have my mid-day meals there on monthly basis. The hotel owner was known to my father. Sometimes, I used to take tea and snacks also.
As far as study was concerned I was lagging behind in Hindi. Pandit Vasu Menon used to complain it to my father. Somehow, I had no interest to study Hindi. I excelled in maths and almost every time used to score 100 marks. But in the S.S.L.C exam, I scored only 98. I got 35 marks in Hindi and just scraped through. I doubt they have given me grace mark as I have scored more than 70 percent in all other subjects. There were only three first class scorers in V.V.P High School in 1964 batch and I was one among them. Soman and another girl whose name, I do not know were the others.
During my school study, in between, I have discontinued one year from V.V.P High School and studied at Sitaram High School in Kunissery. After one year I re-joined V.V.P. High School. I have already stated this in my life at Kunissery, so I am not repeating the experience here.
Now something about the history of the School.
Palakkad municipally came into existence in 1866. The first municipal rate School was opened in 1867
Which was converted into Govt. Victoria college in 1887. As per available information V.V.P School was established in 1875. Nurani High School was started in 1904. BEM High School in 1910 and Moin Girls High School in 1918 and PMG School in 1935. So the prominence and importance of V.V.P High School can be gauged in spreading school education to the Palakkad people. Parameswara Iyer had nationalistic fervour and the British authorities used to closely monitor the activities of the School.
The School ceased to operate from 2000 academic year. The School was unaided and was getting an annual grant of Rs 2000/- only. In 1976 the P.W.D reported that the buildings are dilapidated and it is not safe to run the School, to the District Educational officer. As it was economically unviable, Janaki Ammal who became manager in 1960, gave notice to the government regarding closure of the School from 1/6/89. Aided School management has to give prior notice of one year, before 31st of May. After a lapse of 7 months from the date of notice, she was asked to be present for an enquiry on 16/1/89 and after that she was not informed anything. From Malayala Manorama Daily dated 20/4/89 she came to know that the government has taken over the management for 5 years. It was notified on 28/3/89 and published in Kerala gazette on 31/3/89.
She went for writ petition. In the meantime parent teachers association also became respondent. They contested that Janaki Ammal is not the sole proprietor of the School. Her late father in law has formed a trust and her son V.N. Parameswaran was the Trustee. V.N. Parameswaran applied for only legal heirship of Janaki Ammal and the court approved it. The managers right to closure of School was approved by the court. The Supreme Court has ordered that parent teachers association has no locus standi when it comes to managers right to close down the school. The School was a non-aided one, it meant that School management appointed teachers and salary was given by the government. There was some system of rent.
The humanitarian ground of teachers who were appointed after 1984 getting displaced, overcrowding in other Schools and the resultant hard ships to the students were not considered by the court. On the ground that two government Schools existed within one kilo meter radius and already 10 years has passed after the notice was served. The government was ordered to return the premises, building and accessories before 1st of April 2000.
Thus a long curtain was downed to a Heritage institution which provided succour to the uneducated and the poor. The trust formed by the Late Parameswara Iyer is supposed to consist of 34 or 36 numbers. Prime land in the centre of the town is lying vacant as a Haunted Place. The Irony of it all is that the trustee V.N. Parameswaran passed away on 24/9/98 and legal heirship was allowed to him by division bench of the court on 25/6/99. Even though the school was closed in 2000 some old students met at 19/4/2015 at THRIPTHY HALL, Palakkad to renew their old memories. It shows the bond, affinity, regard and respect of the old students to the institution.
V.V.P High School was not the alone to be closed. Nurani Hindu School also had gone through closure by management, take over by government and after lengthy litigation received back their assets. Nurani High School had also faced litigation regarding School ground after somebody claiming in court ,that it is a public ground.
Coming to the illustrious students of V.V.P High School I am able to gather information about Three persons only. Dr. Santha Mohan author of ROOTS AND WINGS – INSPIRING STORIES OF INDIAN WOMEN IN ENGINEERING, completed her intermediate exam in 1948 from Victoria college. She was a V.V.P High School student. She is an entrepreneur and software engineering leader, Co-Founder Retail solutions. She is a mentor to silicon valley enterprises. The book Roots and Wings discusses the college of engineering, Guindy’s, first women graduates numbering about 30. It is India’s oldest technical institution and the oldest outside Europe.
The other person are
Retired Principal NSS College, Ottapalam
Editor Kala Bhasha, Author- Sthalam, Kalam, Charitram on Palakkad-poetry collection DTPC, Palakkad and Bhavana books Kavasseri
Let us further hope to get more information about other V.V.Pians.
1. www.casemine.com.jud – For court case detail
2. palakkadwalks.blogspot.com – For other School establishment dates.
3. books.google.co.in – For Dr Santa Mohan and Mr. Jayaprakash details.
4. nettv4u.com For information on Mr. Mundoor Krishnan Kutty.
5. Mr. Somasundaram- for trust membership detail and year of School(1875)
6. NarayanaMurthy.wordpress.com for School date (1920) This information seems to be wrong as his date of Nurani School is wrong. He says that both V.V.P High School and Nurani School were established almost at the same period. According to palakkadwalks.blogspot.com Nurani School was estabilished in 1904.