Student Media Body of IIT Kgp


Disha Seema Centre School: A KGPian's classic tale of selfless service

Posted on August 20, 2018

A settled family in Canada, along with a lucrative job of professorship in a renowned college is no doubt anything short of a woman’s dream life, but from there to divorcing the husband and leaving all for rugged terrains in West Bengal to struggle for the downtrodden and underprivileged seems to be an unbelievable storyline of a movie. But fortunately yes, such a wonder woman does exist, and Hansa Nundy, an alumna of IIT Kharagpur is whom we are talking about.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Perhaps these words of Winston Churchill had an incessant imprint on the mind of our renowned alumna and proving the fact that not all heroes wear capes, she’s continuously working hard on the front which is otherwise considered to be obsolete by many. Who in this big materialistic world will do what she has done for the betterment of the community? She is an epitome of ‘The art of giving’.

“It is very easy to live for yourself”, says Hansa beaming with energy even in her 72nd year in her office room of the Disha Seema Centre School, a residential complex for children from underprivileged backgrounds to live, learn and eventually lead unto better lives. The school houses 300 underprivileged children from adjoining villages who are tutored in the best way possible. She has been awarded deservingly by the International Human Rights Council for the promotion of education.

Hansa Nundy was the first woman to join the Electrical Engineering Department of IIT Kharagpur, but shifted to Canada after marriage and graduated in Electronics Engineering from Carleton University and then was appointed as a Professor at Durham College in Canada. She hosted Prof G S Sanyal, the then director of IIT Kharagpur, and Professor KL Chopra when they came to Canada for alumni fundraising and discussed her desire to start a school in India for underprivileged & marginalised sections of the society. Prof. Sanyal and Prof. Chopra extended their helping hands and gave her six acres of land on lease for 99 years inside the IIT Kharagpur campus as they discussed the poverty and illiteracy in West Bengal. Her then mother-in-law gave her a seed capital of 10000 USD to pay for water & Power connection which cost her around 3 lacs. And thus started the journey of ups and downs for the Disha Seema Centre school.

Her decision to leave Canada and dedicate her entire life to underprivileged children had its share of bitter sacrifices. She had to get divorced with her then-husband as he was against the shifting of the family to India. When we asked her about that sacrifice she said in a very modest way that, “For me that was not a sacrifice, educating poor children is my passion and that was a little price I had to pay for it”. When asked about her vision for such an endeavour she revealed she wanted to help the needy so that they live a dignified life.

The school charges a minimal amount of ₹250 per month up to class 8 for a fully residential facility and ₹300 per month from class 9-12 for the same facility. Some college going students also reside on the same campus as they do not have sufficient means to survive and study outside. The classes for grades 1 to 8 are conducted in the school itself while the senior class students from class 9 go to study in the nearby Hijli High School and Talbagicha High School, but take tuitions and reside in the DSCS Campus itself. Ms Nundy is trying her best for the affiliation from the ICSE Board, while talks with authorities in West Bengal Board of Secondary Education are on for an affiliation.

She has also started a unique system titled ‘Earn while you Learn’ in which students do some work for which they are paid so that they can arrange for their fees themselves. Those works include all kinds of works that are needed in a residential school, from cleaning to cooking. Thus the students are trained to become self-dependent while they blossom. There is a bakery inside the school which stands testimony to their self-dependence as all the bakery items sold are made by the students themselves. The school is well equipped with the computer, musical instruments, sports facilities which ensures all-round development of the students. Recently, the school senior and junior football teams were the runners-up in a local tournament in Kharagpur, but what makes the principal more proud is the Fair Play Trophy that the team brought home which signifies the values that have been inculcated by the students. As a strict principal, She is totally against watching TV daily but she also let them watch educational videos on a daily basis. Moreover, reading in the library is compulsory for the students.

This school gets a large chunk of its donation from IIT Kharagpur alumni who get to know the wonderful work that Hansa Ma’am is doing. She said that the school is self-sustained in terms of the present corpus and with the help of Govt. Mid Day Meal Funds. When we talked about the major problems she had to face she said, “Getting quality teachers is something which is very hard to counteract” Besides that, dealing with the IIT Kharagpur authority regarding the further expansion plans of the school is no less than a challenge. Her younger daughter, who is a Harvard Graduate and running her own NGO in Mumbai is ready to take care of the school, said Hansa ma’am when asked about the succession plan. The school recently celebrated its Silver Jubilee and old, but energetic Hansa Ma’am is determined to take it to new heights, whatsoever be the hurdles in the path.

This is not the story of her sacrificial journey or her grandeur, rather a mere attempt to make everyone informed of the hidden gems our society have and a little effort to motivate people to contribute to the society with whatever they have. This is an inspirational tale about human grit to change the society with all possible efforts. It’s never about money or big things, rather the little steps taken in the right direction with sheer determination. No amount of recognition could compare with what she has done for the children there. She has outlived herself, by making a great impact on their lives and on the lives of so many more to come. By providing those children with the lives they couldn’t have easily, she has achieved the honour which will be remembered by the generations to come. We fervently hope that her motherly efforts to make the lives of the children better may inspire millions and she gets further success in her endeavours always.

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