April  2005




April  2005 


 Tsunami uncovers
 ancient temples

 Lahore Gymkhana
 Cricket Club


 Government College
 - 140th year reunion

 Visual Arts
 Ameena Ahmed

 South Asia
 World Bank - update
 on South Asia

 Sanjay Suri - an


 Pandit Ram Narayan

Book Reviews
 Sacred Spaces

 C N Bodh - climbing
 the highest peaks

Real Issues
 Public dis-service


 the craft shop

 the print gallery

 the art gallery


 Between Heaven and Hell

  Silk Road on Wheels

 The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

 Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in









   about us              back-issues           contact us         search             data bank


  craft shop

print gallery


Government College University, Lahore

– Celebrating 140 Years


By – 1969 Ravian

"Courage to Know" [65BC–8 BC: Horace–Roman Poet of Moderation - "Sapere aude" or Courage to be wise]

With my photo-journalist paraphernalia, on a cool and quiet Sunday spring evening on March 20, 2005, I drove along the famous Lahore canal and Mall Road to Government College, Lahore, Pakistan. I had left Government College over 30 years ago. Now called the Government College University, it was celebrating its 140 years [1864-2004].

Tonight there was a debate between the old Ravians and the Young Ravians as part of the celebrations. The debate was on the notion of "Reversing the Clock" in the Bokhari Auditorium. The topic of debate was "Tradition versus New". The two debating groups consisted of 7 Old Ravians versus 7 Young Ravians. The Old Ravians included a Sikh gentleman from India.

There was a delegation of 20 old Ravians [Government College Alumni] from India. Secretary General of the Indian Old Ravian Union, GS Dhillon, led the delegation, and Harcharan Singh Brar, former Indian Punjab chief minister and governor of Haryana also came to participate in the 140 years celebration along with 20 ladies and gentlemen.

Dr Khalid Aftab, vice chancellor of the GCU was present as a guest as were the old Ravians delegation from India. The debate was carried out in sharp, brilliant and witty style that characterizes the British House of Commons. The President of the Ravians Union, Mr Saadat Ullah Khan, chaired the debate. Each person had about 5 minutes to speak and points for interruption were allowed one minute.

The Old Ravians had stentorian and heavy weight / serious speakers such as Afzal Mufti, Columnist & ex-Foreign Office Diplomat Khaled Ahmed, Kamal Azfar. All these speakers covered the debate’s ground by highlighting the burning issues of South Asia and the Middle-East. Thinking freely, vision and not televison, The "Courage to Know" motto of Government College, the importance of autonomous knowledge that allows each person the right to his decisions, the virtues of tolerance, were highlighted. The immense contributions of Dr.Salam, Ibn-e-Khaldun, John Locke [basis of constitutional law and secularism], Emanuel Kant, Faiz, Allama Iqbal to these issues were highlighted as traditions from which one still learnt in a profound manner.

The debate’s speakers highlighted the historical lessons of the Vietnam War, the ongoing Iraq war and the importance of the Chinese revolution. The question of traditional versus new values was discussed, quotations from Faiz, Horace [as the source of Government College’s motto- "Courage to Know"] enabled the audience to be enthralled by the brilliance of both the old and young Ravians.

The young Ravians debated with fire, humor and wit [one young Ravian debater lamented that reversing the clock meant that he would have to pay his fees again, and take his mid-term exams; later an old Ravian took the opportunity to remind the youngster that he would also have to get his nappy tied again if he went too far back into time]. The Sikh Gentleman & Old Ravian debater emphasized that one must learn from the mistakes of the past and be kind and compassionate to each other.

It was a well organized, enjoyable and educative debate lasting 2 hours in a packed auditorium. It was followed by an evening dinner that was typically Punjabi [ menu included Basmati Pulao, Mutton Korma, Mixed vegetable and Daal Maash of a very excellent quality] under the "Monsoon Wedding" movie type of white silk Tents / Shamianaas in the Bokhari auditorium lawns. Also available on sale were old Government College ties, badges, coffee mugs.

It is hoped that this work of reconstruction [ both architecturally and education wise ] under the Vice-Chancellor Dr. Khaled Aftab, will enable Government College University to re-establish itself as the leading knowledge and Research University in South Asia. Also much needed is a further series of continuous debates on the topics of tolerance, civil society and solutions to the problems of urban town planning and water resources that are already besetting South Asian cities and village people. We hope that the Government College University will play a leading role in this.

As I walked back to the parking lot through the main gate to the Botany Department and Physics Department, memories of my old days at Government College brought back the words of Lu Xun short story "My Old Home". Words that still remain etched in my mind especially in view of the path of peace that South Asia urgently needs to walk upon.

[ Lu Xun is considered to be the Father of Modern Chinese Literature and whom the Japanese Nobel Laureate Oe Kenzaburo has called "The greatest writer Asia produced in the 20th century.]

"Yet what I now called hope was no more than an idol I had created myself.....As I dozed, a stretch of jade-green seashore spread itself before my eyes, and above a round golden moon hung in a deep blue sky. I thought: hope cannot be said to exist, nor can it be said not to exist. It is just like roads across the earth. For actually the earth had no roads to begin with, but when many men pass one way, a road is made." [ Lu Xun 1881-1936 ]


Government College Data :

Government College has been Alma Mater to some of the illustrious South Asian alumni. Of the 1979 Nobel Laureates in Physics [for the Unified Field Theory], Professor Abdus Salam [1926-1996] did his MA from Government College in 1946. Dr. Har Gobind Khorana, also one of the 1968 Nobel Prize Laureates in Medicine [ for Genetic Code], studied at Government Co9llege and did his B.S in 1943 and an M.S. 1945. He is currently Professor Emeritus at MIT Chemistry Department.

Ravians, as the Government College alumni are called [from the river Ravi that flows near by; Ravi also used to be the name of the College Magazine], include Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers Inder Gujral , Nawaz Sharif and Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali. Indian film actors Dev Anand, Balraj Sahni, and mathematician Sarvadaman Chowla are old Ravians. Writers and poets include Ashfaq Ahmed, Patras Bokhari, Soofi Ghulam Mutafa Tabassum, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Allama Iqbal, Khushwant Singh and Prakash Tandon.



Copyright © 2000 - 2005 []. Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.