SCD Government College,Ludhiana that prides in excellence.—By Prabhjot Paul Singh (An Alumnus)*
Devoted to developing leaders in many disciplines, SCD Government College, after completing an illustrious century, continues with its unending appetite for excellence in making a positive difference to contemporary society.
Belonging to a select band of elite educational institutions of the pre-partition days that have remained engaged with teaching and passion to push the boundaries of human knowledge, SCD Government College has created a niche for itself not only in academics but also in all areas that an institution of such status can encompass in its control. Its Alumni not only occupy key positions in the civil administration, social justice, and defense but also hold aloft its flag in the field of sports, culture, and entertainment.
Established in 1920 as Imperial College with its first three Principals coming from the elite IES, it has been one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the region where co-education in postgraduate classes was introduced more than 50 years ago.
It greets students from all over and provides an excellent climate for both academic and extracurricular activities. It was in 1970, the year the college was celebrating its Golden jubilee, I got admission in Pre-University (Medical).
It is one of very few educational institutions that used to boast of the best grassy hockey ground, exclusive football and cricket grounds, an international standard athletic track, a swimming pool, basketball, tennis and volleyball courts besides a weights training hall.
Hockey ground was so famous that it played host to a Test match against visiting national team of France. For its maintenance, no one was allowed to walk on its sprawling green lawns, and trespassers were fined heavily.
As a hockey player, it was a dream comes true for me as I played hockey on this ground for six years. During this period, the college hockey team created history. In 1974, it won the Panjab University Inter-College championship for the first time in 54 years.
This historic triumph was not without some pulsating moments and a drama. Four teams that had qualified for Inter-Zonals that year were SGGS College, Chandigarh; Jat College, Rohtak, Government College, Gurgaon, and Government College, Ludhiana. Till then, all Haryana colleges were still affiliated to Panjab University.
We played a goalless draw against SGGS College, Chandigarh, in our opening game of the round-robin league. A 2-0 win over Jat College, Rohtak, in the second game boosted our chances as we started tasting our first title victory. In our third and final game, when we left the Hostel for hockey ground, we were all determined to score a big win as SGGS College was also expected to win its last game against Jat College Rohtak. To win the title, we needed a better goal average as we and SGGS College had the same number of points with one win one draw in our first two games each. And since Jat College with brilliant right-winger Phool Kumar, in its side, we expected it to give a tough fight to SGGS College. Our game was the first of the last day. Gurgaon College also had an outstanding and speedy center-forward Shamsher Singh. Since he was the only dangerous man in our rival team, we decided to mark him tightly.
We started very well scoring five goals in first 23 minutes before Shamsher broke loose and dribbled past almost our entire defense. Before he could a shot at the goal, our center-half, Kuldip Singh, who later played for Western Railway and Railway, bodily checked him and hit him in the knee. Withering in pain, he sprawled on the field. Umpire Gurcharan Singh Bodhi (coach of the 1975 World Cup Champion Indian hockey team) gave Kuldip marching orders.
Trailing by a big margin and losing their star player was too much for the Gurgaon team. It walked out in protest saying that Umpiring was biased. Repeated requests by umpires to the Gurgaon team to return and resume the game met with no response. An SOS was sent to Dr. B.L. Gupta, the then Director of Sports. Within minutes he arrived on the ground and talked to the two Umpires. He asked umpires to blow a whistle and ask the teams to resume the game. Gurgaon team, however, refused to relent. After a couple of warnings, Dr. Gupta threatened to scratch our rivals for defying umpires.
The threat did not work. After a few minutes of Gurgaon refusing to take the field, Dr. BL Gupta went inside the ground and called the Manager of Gurgaon to send his team. He refused. Furious Dr. Gupta then not only scratched the team but also ordered Gurgaon boys to vacate the university hostel within the next 30 minutes. We heaved a sigh of relief when we were declared winners of the game. And in the last game, contrary to expectations Jat College beat SGGS College to confirm our number one position in the league.
Interestingly, that team had three Nagi brothers – Onkar, Harpal and Jasbir – and two Grewal brothers – Sukhvir and Jagbir. Besides Sukhvir Grewal, another member of the team, Gurdeep Singh Pannu, who happened to be a nephew of the then DPE Sohan Singh Pannu, also played for India. Gurdeep was chosen to represent India in the 1975 Rene Frank International Tournament in Madras. The tournament was held a few months after India had won the third World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
Sukhvir played for India for a number of years and had the distinction of caching the Indian Olympic hockey team to Barcelona in 1992.
Fortunate as we were, our first year in the college saw us come face to face with many of country’s eminent personalities, including Sahir Ludhianvi and Amrita Pritam, Harkishen Lal (Painter), Keki Daruwala, Mohan Sehgal, and Avtar Singh Cheema, besides others.
We felt proud that General TN Raina and Maj-Gen Himmat Singh Gill, bureaucrats NN Vohra, MS Gil, IC Puri, SS Puri, Jagpal Singh Sandhu, top police officers Joginder Singh, Rupinder Singh had been students of this great institution.
To honor one of its outstanding alumni and scientist, the college was renamed Satish Chander Dhawan (SCD) Government College in 1976.
And then the college had the distinction of producing some outstanding sportsmen and women also. Test cricketer Yash Pal Sharma, hockey Olympian Iqbaljit Singh, and internationals Sukhvir Singh Grewal, Jagdeep Sigh Phulka (goalkeeper of the Indian hockey team that won gold in the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok), cagers Manmohan Singh, Sajjan Singh Cheema, Amrit Grewal (son of Prof Baljit Singh Grewal, Olympic thinker, poet, and sports commentator). Besides, athletes Jagdev Singh and Jagmohan Singh and Sukhpal Singh Palli (volleyball), had been students of the college.
When the golden jubilee celebrations were held, eminent Punjabi litterateur Pritam Singh was the Principal. Later Dr Kesar Singh (Chemistry) took over as Principal in 1971 and continued until 1976.
Though the college had been fortunate to get top academicians as Principals, who always supported extracurricular and sports activities, some of them can be singled out for their singular contribution to encouraging sports.
Dr. Mohammed Jahangir, who was the principal of the college just before partition took place, had been a great sportsman himself. He moved to Pakistan after partition and his son Majid Khan played Test cricket for Pakistan.
Principal Multani Chand Sharma, who died a few years ago after completing a century, was an iconic figure, both in academics and sports. A keen hockey and tennis player, he not only served educational institutions which are now in Pakistan but also taught foreign languages like French, German, and French besides his main subject English.
Principal Sarwan Singh and Principal H.S. Deol, however, stands out. During their command, the college sports reached a new high. During their tenures, the college won several Inter-College championships and even overall trophy.
They were backed and supported by several other members of the faculty who had been die-hard sports administrators. Prof Gurbachan Singh Salaria would join the college football players every evening while Professor Chadha was regular in his tennis games where his son, Vikram Chadha (Professor of Economics at Guru Nanak Dev University) used to join him. Prof S.S. Mohindra was the lucky President of the College Hockey Club that won the University championship in 1974.
Then there was Professor Baljit Singh Grewal “Sajjad”, a great Olympic thinker and sports commentator. He was also known for his Urdu poetry. Both Professor Grewal and Professor Mohindra were from the Geography Department.
Cricket used to be the domain of Prof F.C. Chopra of Economics who headed the College Cricket Club for a number of years, including the time when Yash Pal was getting into the groove to play Test cricket. The College had produced several top cricket players, including Vinod Sharma, Arun Passi, Satish Kumar, Balkrishan, and Rajinder Pursarthy.
The College always had a distinguished faculty in its Physical education Department where besides ever-cheerful Sohan Singh Pannu were Professors and coaches like R.P. Kumaria (He remained associated with cricket and was also a Punjab selector), C.P. Mullick, Reet Mohinder Singh (who later became Director of Sports of Panjab University), Gurdev Singh (volleyball), Jagdev Singh (athletics), Gurcharan Singh Gill, Gurdeep Singh Nagi and Jagninder Singh (hockey).
The college had some outstanding Table tennis players who held top rankings not only in Punjab but also in North India. They included Sanjeev Sood and Sanjeev Thapar while in badminton Arun Dhand was outstanding. Even after retiring from the national circuit, he continued to win laurels for the country in World Masters Tournaments. Sanjay Jain and Rajesh Dhir also dominated the State badminton scene for a number of years. Manoj Gandhi and Darshana were outstanding women badminton players who did the college proud.
Weightlifters Tara Singh and Parvesh Chander besides others brought honors and glory to the college while among outstanding athletes produced by the college were middle-distance runner Amarjit Singh and hurdler Harinder Pal Singh.
There have been several others who did very well in various competitions and university meets in other sports, including swimming and water polo, tennis, boxing, wrestling, cross country races, volleyball, and gymnastics.. The College did get sports wings in some games under different schemes of the Central and State Government. But somehow, participation in sports and games is diminishing.
Now when the college enters its second centenary in service of people, it has to maintain the balance it always did in the past. Academics and extracurricular activities must go in hand so that institutions like SCD Government College turn out complete citizens, who are intellectually and physically sound and alert.
Prabhjot Paul Singh studied in Govt. College, Ludhiana in the years 1970-74 and 1975-77.He was a Student Editor of Science Section and also of English Section of The Sutlej, this prestigious institution’s magazine. He also represented college Hockey and Cricket teams in PU Championships. He has reported for The Tribune for Sports and was a Bureau Chief. He can be contacted at +919814002189 email@example.com