An eminent Educationist
Principal K. M. Kundnani
by Principal Dr. Dayal Asha
There comes a time in the history of an individual, a community, a nation when a need arises for looking back – a need for going back to the roots not in order to travel backwards but to draw inspiration and sustenance for the journey ahead, for the coming to flower. With the passing away of Barrister Hotchand G. Advani (1991) and Principal K. M. Kundnani (1992), the two founder members of the Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board and the founding father of our colleges, we today look at these towering personalities with sorrow, with pride. Sorrow that they are no more among us with that sense of sure values that people with long years of struggle and experience acquire; pride for it's a blessing when one can look upto one's founders. For these were men of spirit, willing to take up the challenge of fulfilling a vision its difficult for us today even to realize what determination, what charity and what raggedness must have been required for those, thrown out of their homeland, faced with the question of resettlement, to foresee in such troubled times of the partition, that they must do something for their community. And that not through politicking, not through charity but by providing opportunities for a community to stand on its own feet with respect, with dignity, with independence. Yet, if this service had been rendered to their community, one could dismiss these figures as narrow and parochial. But one finds that the doors of learning that they opened were open to one and all. So that rising from the needy position of refuges, one finds that both, Mr. K.M. Kundnani and Mr. H. G. Advani worked to a position from where they actually start contributing – by setting up, slowly but steadily, a chair of twenty colleges and eight institutions – opening doors for so many young people to jobs, to education and training in various fields. It is thus that the students of these institutions must take inspiration from these men. For not only an instinct for survival made these men what they became, but that instinct combined with a broad vision and searing hard work.
Principal of Rishi Dayaram Gidumal College, Hyderabad in 1947, Mr. K. M. Kundnani came to Bombay during the partition. Came with no material belongings but an idea, a vision – and he managed to materialize this vision within four months of his arrival in the city when he set up the R. D. National College at Bandra. From here began a long journey during which, with the sustained support and advice of Barrister H. G. Advani, the Principal set up institutions – all in the service of education. Even today, retiring professors at Chadibai recall how in 1963 when the college building was being constructed, K. M. Kundnani who was also the Principal of K. C. Kundnani College since its inception, would travel down to Ulhasnagar from Churchgate to supervise the construction personally. He continued to take care of administration at K. C. till his death at the age of 88 years. Professors who faced an interview by Principal Kundnani were always amazed at his sharp memory and a probing intelligence even at the age of 88. He also remained the Secretary of the HSNC Board and in May 1991, he became the President of the Board, till his death and brought many talented people to staff his colleges.
Sindhis have contributed their share in business, trade and the academic life of the nation. Principal Kundnani's services towards the cause of higher education will be remembered for all time to come. His services have been utilized in the field of education. He was the founder Principal of K. C. College and the dedicated secretary and soul of Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board which has established 20 colleges within a short period of Fifty Six years. These colleges are the pride of the Sindhi Community. The collegiate board has provided education to thousands of students of Bombay and Ulhasnagar. Eminent educationist and philosopher, barrister H. G. Advani and Principal K. M. Kundnani were the pioneers of the board. They had love and sympathy for deserving students and disheartened ones.
Principal K. M. Kundnani was a highly educated, hard-working, industrious and experienced person who even at the age of 88 years was doing great service to the student community. He was born on 24th August 1904 at Hyderabad, Sindh. His father Shri Motiram Kundnani was a humble soul and saint. Principal Kundnani was a brilliant student himself during his school life. He was always first in studies as well as in games. He studied First Year at D. J. Sind College, Karachi and later joined Elphinstone College Bombay, where he completed his studies. During his college life, he took interest in indoor and outdoor games and represented the University of Bombay several times.
In 1930, he joined as lecturer in Rishi Dayaram College, Hyderabad. By his efforts and efficiency, he became the Principal of the same college in 1947. The student community was dear and near to him. He exerted himself for the physical and moral upliftment of the students. He helped the poor and needy students.
After partition, Principal Kundnani came to Bombay and established Rishi Dayaram Gidumal National College at Bandra within four months of his arrival in the city. It was the first college of the Sindhi community having its own college building. The college became popular within a short period.
Principal K. M. Kundnani, with the help, co-operation and guidance of the revered Late Dada H. G. Advani, established Kishinchand Chellaram College at Churchgate, Bombay in 1954. He got the building ready within six months. He himself was the architect and became the Founder Principal of K. C. College, Bombay. Afterwards he established H. R. College of Commerce, K. C. Law College, C.H.M. college, B. Ed. College of Education, Pharmacy College, Gopaldas Advani Law College, M.M.K. College, Thadhomal Shahani Engineering College and other colleges.
Principal K. M. Kundnani was the first Sindhi educationist who was awarded Golden Plate at the hands of Education Minister, Government of Maharashtra, Prof. Ram Joshi. The function was held in Jai Hind College, Bombay to felicitate him. Principal K. M. Kundnani was a devotee of Lord Shiva and his life partner Smt. Jotu Kundnani was a devotee of Guru Nanikdevji Maharaj and she whole heartedly supported and co-operated with her husband in the cause of Education.
He was felicitated in a function at Raj Bhavan. The Governor of Maharashtra Mr. C. Subramnian presented a Gold Medal to him for his services in the field of Education.
Principal K. M. Kundnani became the President of the board after Dada Hotchand Advani passed away on 9th May 1991.
Barrister Hotchand Advani, President of the Board and Principal K. M. Kundnani, both were very kind to me. I cannot forget their obligations in my life. When I was appointed as Lecturer in K. C. and H. R. College in Sindhi, I was only a graduate. Both the great personalities encouraged me for further studies and with their encouragement and blessings I studied further and got M.A., Ph.D. degrees and contributed to Social Service. With their blessings I received Degree of D. Litt. Of Mumbai University.
This is my personal experience that Principal Khushiram Kundnani proved his name Khushiram. In Sindhi language “Khushi” means “Happiness”. He was kind and sweet at heart. He wanted to make others happy. He had sympathy for poor and needy students and for broken ones. I observed tears in his eyes, 'Tears of Sympathy'. He was giving instruction to me that no needy student should be deprived of Education. Our Sindhi Community has already suffered a lot. Please give maximum help. I implemented his instructions when I was Principal of C.H.M College. I used to admit specially children of widows even with low percentage.
I was not desirous of any post, but Dada Hotchand Advani and Principal K. M. Kundnani wanted me to occupy the Chair of Principal of C.H.M. College, I had no knowledge at all about my appointment as Acting Principal. On 9th May 1991 Mr. Kishore Sadarangani, phoned me from Bombay – giving one good news and one bad news i.e. he told me that Barrister H. G. Advani and Principal K. M. Kundnani have appointed you as a Principal, yesterday evening and the bad news that Barrister H. G. Advani all of sudden passed away early in the morning. This showed their affection for me.
The last dream of Principal K. M. Kundnani was to start a Medical College in Bombay. He was very sympathetic towards the teachers and students. He passed away at the age of 88 years on Saturday, the 7th November 1992 at 9 O'clock in Jaslok Hospital, Bombay. He was very active. This is the first example in the University of Bombay that Principal at the age of 88 years was looking after so many colleges of Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board, Bombay which were functioning under his direction and blessings. Having a Magnetic personality and having devoted his entire life for the upliftment of noble causes in Educational field. His life is a “LIGHT HOUSE” for us. May the blessings of God, shower upon him in heaven.
Principal K. M. Kundnani was a lighthouse of learning and education. He was not an individual, but an institution. His life was an example for us. Poet Longfellow has described such jewels as under :
Lives of Great men all remind us,
That should make our lives sublime
And departing leaves behind us,
Foot prints on the sands of time.