Memories of Student Life in Islamia College
Mohan L. Taneja
Last September, 06 I visited Islamia College Peshawar along with my wife where we received a cordial welcome from the Principal Dr. Nisar Ahmed Nisar who also happened to be a fellow alumni of the college. I do not know how to express my elation in being able to fulfill my long cherished desire of visiting my almamater after more than six decades where I spent the glorious period of my adult life.
      - I was glad to observe that the college was still keeping old traditions alive and impressed by up keep of the Buildings that looked as majestic as these were in the early forties with added greenery around.
    -After my visit to the college campus Dr. Nisar wanted me to send him a write up my experience of college life in those days. Some of the events and activities that I can recollect follows.
Prior to 1947 in NWFP there were two colleges in Peshawar and one in D.I. khan but only Islamia College was equipped to teach Science subjects and provide post graduate education in some subjects. Punjab University with headquarters in Lahore was the umbrella organization for all the schools and colleges in Punjab and NWFP.
I joined Islamia College in 1941 after Matriculation to pursue my studies in Agriculture Science. During that period there were only two colleges teaching Agriculture viz Lyalpur Agricultural College and Islamia College Peshawar under the jurisdiction of Punjab University. As compared to other courses fewer students opted for Agriculture. All our lectures and Lab work were conducted in various departments of the main building. The college had its own farm to enable us receive training in field practices.
     I do not remember the total no. of students on college rolls but it had students from all the districts of the province as well as from the autonomous regions and some princely states.
Most of the Faculty members were highly qualified from well-known universities in Undivided India or from UK, had good teaching experience in their respective subjects. When I joined the college Dr. Omar Hayat Mulick was the Principal. He enjoyed good reputation as an academician, teacher and an able administrator. He was well built, over six ft. tall, with an impressive personality and good sense of humor. He was still a Bachelor, a story/ gossip that went around in the campus about his bachelorhood was that he would not like to  keep a cow, until he could get his supply of fresh milk. After he relinquished office he was succeeded by Prof. Hadow Harris who gradually became unpopular for administrative lapses and was subsequently removed after four months as a consequence of the agitation lead by the students union.
Mr. I. D. Scott an ICS officer was appointed as a Principal. He was able to establish a good rapport with the teachers and students. He enjoyed good reputation as an able administrator and was able to bring about overall improvement in day-to-day management and activities of the college.
Assembly Hall was the main venue for gathering of all teachers and students periodically to attend seminars, lectures by Senior Professors, invited guest speakers or VIP dignitaries. Teams from various colleges of Punjab University used to participate in the Annual Debating Contests organized by the college. I still remember a lecture by one of the Senior Professors of the college on causes of war which was in progress at that time wherein he cited three main causes of conflict among nations, society or family as Zar (wealth/ money), Zun (women) or Zameen (Land/ property).
- The college enjoyed a unique privilege of hosting VIPs from Bureaucracy, Services and political Spectrum not only from NWFP but also from all over the country. Amongst the high profile visitor was Qaide Azim Mohamed Ali Jinnah who addressed the students in newly built Hamidia Hall.
The college had a strong Student Union, elections to which were held annually and keenly contested. None of the candidate had any political affiliations and were elected on the basis of debating skills and ability to look after the concerns and welfare of the students. One of the contestants for President was the younger son of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who was a popular leader of the country and known as Badshah Khan.
Hostel Life
- Rahim Shah ward where I stayed for major part of the academic years, was a much smaller hostel as compared to other hostels, was earmarked for Hindu and Sikh students. Most of the residents were from various districts, we had good social life and were served sumptuous veg and non-veg meals despite wartime rationing that restricted to two Nans per person per meal. We enjoyed good rapport with Adil Sahib who as our warden and looked after us very well. Mr. Abdul Razak (our hockey coach) also stayed in the staff quarter of the Hostel. Initially I was a Day scholar and used to cycle to the college from Sadar but would shift to the Hostel in winter months till the end of academic year.
Sporting Activities
- The college had excellent facilities of playgrounds and equipment for various sports.  Students were not only encouraged to participate in games but also given incentives to excel. Prof. Fazil was the Director of Sports who was assisted by Adil and Razak Sahibs who looked after sporting activities. Whenever our college teams played against Edwards College in Tennis, Hockey, Football or Volleyball in inter College, inter University or local tournaments, Students from both the colleges displayed great enthusiasm in cheering up their respective teams with slogans, the most popular one referring to Edwards College representing “Surkhi powder” and Islamia College as “Chillum Tambako”.
-  I was lucky to represent the College Hockey XI, one of the few Hindu and first year students to do so and subsequently awarded the blue badge. In 1941-42 and 42-43 we reached the Mofosil final of Inter University matches after defeating teams from other colleges from Rawal Pindi, Gujaranwala, Lyalpur etc. But lost to Khalsa College Amritsar in the final, which had at least 4-5 Olympians in its team. Mr. Abdul Razaq was the Coach cum Manager of the team who accompanied the team for matches in different places, looked after the travel arrangements and welfare of the players.
Trekking Expedition
- One of the most memorable excursions I enjoyed was a four-week trip to Kashmir and a Trek in Sind and Lideravat Valley during summer vacation of 1942.  The trip was supervised by Adil and Razaq Sahib, comprising of 10-15 students, and a couple of cooks along with their equipment. We traveled by bus from Peshawar to Srinagar via Abbotabad. After a brief stop over in Srinagar we traveled by road to Pahalgam where we camped along the river Jehlam to start the trek. We engaged some ponies/ Horses to carry our baggage, camping equipment and provisions etc. Milk and meat requirements were procured locally from Bakarwals along the route. We used to start the trek early in the morning after breakfast and continue till dark except for lunch breaks, traversing riverlets, frozen lakes, snow capped mountains of over 15000 ft. Height and miles of flowering meadows across the valley. Late in the evening we used to gather along campfire for relaxation and entertainment. During the trip we not only enjoyed scenic beauty but also good food and company.
After completing the trekking expedition we spent few days in Srinagar and stayed in a Boat House on Jhelam River. Incidentally we shared the Boat House with famous actress/ singer Noor Jahan who was camping there with her parents and troupe to hold music and dance performances in a local theatre at Lal Chowk. We used to have lot of fun by singing her songs in on attempt to provoke her presence but succeeded in securing free passes for her shows.
9.    It is difficult to recount various other activities of the college life but one which had profound impact in teaching us discipline, physical endurance, fellowship and mental make up was the training imparted to UTC Cadets in the college as well as in outdoor camps.
    Lastly it may not be out of place to mention that in the past students from Islamia College got preferential treatment in selection in Civil and Defense Services. Most of the old students did very well in life and respective careers enhancing college's reputation and prestige. Some of the ex-students I know of in India occupied high position in the country as well as in International agencies.
M. L. Taneja now 82, an ex-Agricultural Engineer of FAO of UN worked on field assignments in different countries in Africa and Mid-East from 1971-84. Started professional career in 1947 in the Govt. of India under Ministry of Food & Agriculture, worked in different states and Krishi Bhawan in Delhi until 1971, prior to assignment in FAO.
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