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Nehru's portrait unveiled at his British school

November 15, 2005 09:34 IST

Britain's world-famous Harrow School has commemorated the centenary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's admission to the institution by unveiling a bronze bust and a portrait of India's first prime minister on the occasion of his 116th birthday.

India's High Commissioner to the UK Kamalesh Sharma and the school head master Barnaby Lenon jointly inaugurated the bust and portrait on Monday in the presence of a select gathering in the boarding school founded in 1572.

Present on the occasion were Dr Pavan K Varma, Director General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Ranjan Mathai, Deputy High Commissioner and Dr Atul Khare, Director, the Nehru Centre.

Sharma recalled that it was at Harrow that Pandit Nehru got the first spark for India's freedom struggle when he received as a prize, Trevelyn's Garibaldi books.

"Soon, he obtained the other two volumes of the series, read them carefully and drew inspiration for India's fight for freedom," he said, noting that Nehru himself had recorded this in his autobiography.

"So in some way, by presenting the book on Garibaldi, Harrow contributed to the strengthening of the desire for freedom for India that Nehru would later win," he said.

Varma said Nehru's bust was prepared in record time by K S Radhakrishnan, one of the finest sculptors of India.

"It is important to honour Nehru because he went on to become the founder of the modern India," Varma said.

Azhar Khan, President of Nehru Society in the school, with roots in Pakistan, described the Indian leader as a role model to pupils in the school.

Harrow is one of Britain's leading independent schools. Nehru was in Harrow for two years but he played full part in the life of the school during that period.

Besides Nehru, famous Old Harrovians include Winston Churchill and six other British prime ministers, King Hussein of Jordan, as well as poets and writers as diverse as Byron, Sheridan and Trollope, the school Head Master said.

High Commissioner Sharma also presented a book titled The Essential writings of Jawaharlal Nehru to the librarian of the school to mark the occasion. It was autographed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadhera.

In one of his letters from Harrow, Nehru wrote to his father Motilal Nehru: 'I was leaving Harrow because I wanted to do so myself and yet I will remember that when the time came to part I felt unhappy and tears came to my eyes.'

In another letter, he wrote, 'Life was pleasant, both physically and intellectually, fresh horizons were ever coming into sight and there was so much to be done, so much to be seen, so many fresh avenues to explore. And we would sit by the fireside in the long winter evenings and talk about unhurriedly, deep into the night till the dying fire drove us shivering to our beds.'

'I must confess,' he wrote in another letter, 'I can't mix properly with English boys. My tastes and inclinations are quite different. Here, boys who are older than me and in higher forms than me take great interest in things which appear to me childish.'

'I almost wish sometimes that I had not come to Harrow, but gone straight to the Varsity.'

H S Rao in London
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