‘I am proud to be from a school with workers so committed to education’

Three ex-students of Don Bosco school, Matunga, Mumbai, who are even today actively involved itself in the past pupils’ association spoke to Communalism Combat about an institution that shaped their life and vision, firmly yet unobtrusively, through their formative years. Carrying the genuinely Christian belief that within every child there is that something just waiting to come out and flower, the staff and management of Bosco have conveyed to their alumni that caring for others, looking outside narrow concerns of our own lives, engaging in burning social issues are all part of a learning process that never ends. It means a life long engagement with the world around you. 

Dr Ram Chaddha
Spine surgeon, Mumbai

I do believe that Bosco is probably one of the premier educational institutions with a history of strong commitment to education. What I appreciate the most about this school is that despite having a prominent shrine next to us through all our schooling days, a shrine that dominates the campus, I never ever felt that Christianity was in anyway being imposed on me. 

I am happy to tell you that I come from basically an Arya Samaji Hindu culture where there is no idol worship. 

We as non-Christians had the moral science class, and the boarders, who were mostly Christians, the books on religion. My closest friends were boarders and I have gone through their books on religion. The moral science and religion books were almost the same. The only difference between the boarders and us was that my Catholic colleagues visited the church more often than we did and got the chance to taste the Holy Communion which we missed! It was only later in life that I realized that the Holy Communion was something very interesting that we should have shared!
I did not feel in any way different from them. In fact, I was very happy with the fact that I belonged to a school that had, and still has, a committed set of workers so utterly dedicated to education. I’ve noticed that there are only a few communities which have a committed set of workers — Christians, Parsis, or some Jains — who have a tradition of grooming a set of people who have given up a lot of their domestic daily chores for a commitment. 

It may be education, it may be health, rehabilitation or whatever. Christians have invested so much on education while Parsis have invested in helping students with educational scholarships, for the alleviation of poverty etc. Many of us who have needed help at various points of time, for medical expenses or other higher education courses, have got it from Parsi trusts, the Tata trusts or the Godrej trusts. They also encourage sports a lot.

For me, being a good human being is more important than being a Hindu or a Christian or a Muslim. I strongly feel that the way they developed my personality from an ordinary child, who probably may have had an inferiority complex elsewhere into an outgoing and confident person, was amazing. Hell, at 10 or 11 years, I was put up before an audience of 3,000 at the Shanmukhananda Hall, the largest auditorium in Bombay! I had to perform in front of the entire auditorium for almost three hours. If I could do that I can face anybody in the world! 


‘Why should you point fingers at the Christian institutions instead of learning from their outstanding  example?’

Dr Ameet S Patki


I came to Don Bosco because my family had a long association with the Don Bosco Salesians. My grandfather was instrumental in building this school so it was the obvious choice of school for me. We never saw this as a Christian school. As Ram says, we were never even asked to go to the shrine even once. I repeat not once and I am talking about 20-25 years ago. Never even once were we told to visit the shrine. 

The school never once discriminated between us, we were all encouraged to bring out the best from within us. At the time, the staff was 70 per cent Christian and the long hours of dedication that these persons spent with us, training us after school hours, in gymnastics, elocution, in preparation for these huge mega shows. Their dedication was amazing.

 We are all proud to say aloud that we are from Bosco. They make you into a complete person. We were each one of us made to feel special. As Father Adolf used to say, there is something in each student just waiting to come out. In Bosco, each child grows up believing this.
Those who are casting these unwarranted aspersions on Christian institutions should recognize this tremendous dedication and contribution, value it and learn from it. Persons of other faiths should pick this up, emulate from it. Why should you point fingers at the Christian institutions instead of learning from their outstanding example?

‘For my Brahmin marriage by Vedic rites, a Christian priest came all the way from Spain to bless us’

​Dilip S Bhatt
Chartered Accountant

What could be a better illustration of what Bosco stands for than to imagine that even though I am a Hindu, I am the past pupils’ president of the school; I am on the provincial committee. I formed the national federation of Don Bosco Past Pupils and I am its national treasurer. Does this not show that this is not a Christian institution, it is an institution for everyone?

It brought us all together irrespective of caste, colour and creed. 

Some of our lifelong mottos we learnt from here — how to help others and help in the Bosco style, to empower the needy, to comfort the sick. This message is so important to remember in the India of today. When we carry such a message out of Bosco into the wider world, and we follow what we have learnt, we not only repay the alma mater for their devotion but also contribute to society as a whole.

The education stressed upon here is one of relevance to the world, problems and issues around you. I really feel that I am proud to call myself a Boscoite and I will continue to feel so until I die.

I got married as per Vedic rights years ago. My marriage took place in Dakor, a Brahmin stronghold in Gujarat, with 95 per cent Brahmins. You will be surprised to hear how the marriage took place. Father Mariotta flew down from Switzerland to attend my marriage in Dakor; he came over there and after our marriage ceremony he blessed both of us. In front of the large village crowd. Not one person gave it a thought. Even though mine was a traditional Brahmin marriage by Vedic rites, a Christian priest came all the way to bless the couple! The whole town was thrilled. 
My father happens to be the president of the Brahmin Parishad there. And yet, on that day all of us went through a beautiful experience; it was as if a communion marriage between Hindus and Christians was taking place.

I learnt here that there is no difference between human beings. Even today I go to the temple, mosque, a church.

‘A pride laced with humility is what every Boscoite has’

​Jatin V Paranjape
Cricketer, played for Mumbai and India

I come from a family that is a blend of academics and sports. My father is a cricket coach, my mother heads the English department at Ruia College. My parents put me into Bosco because of the emphasis on sport.  There was always a very good balance between education and sport there. 
When I started playing for the school I was in the fifth standard; it was actually my vice-principal who spotted me one day playing rubber ball cricket. He used to take care of the hockey and football teams but without my even knowing it, he recommended me to the cricket coach. The very next day I found myself playing from the school team! Everything seemed to just follow from there.

At the same time, the teachers took so much pain in the classes to help me keep track of my studies. Unknowingly, this is what this institution has taught me, that you can do a couple of things at the same time.   You can both pursue your dream and also academics. I did well in Std X and XII, completed my Company Secretary course while I was already playing for Bombay. I played for India thereafter. At present, I have taken a few months’ sabbatical since I am appearing for the IIM Management entrance examinations.

What was instilled in me at Bosco has stayed within me: yes, Jatin you can play cricket and you can study as well. That is what the class teacher used to tell me. Nothing was actually done to tell me this, but the message has been lasting and has stayed. So apart from being in the team, I was also the class monitor, helping with other kinds of organizing and so on.

Some of my best friends have been the boarders and I am happy to say that I am still in touch with them. There is one unmistakable thing that every Boscoite has, a pride in his institution. It is an unshakable pride. It is not a pride bordering on the egoistic. It is a pride laced with humility. That is what Fr Lionel taught us. It was all done unobtrusively; the message getting across without the other person even knowing or understanding it.

Was Christianity imposed? This is laughable, farthest from the truth. We have a beautiful church here that is the landmark of the area, the city. It does not just belong to the school, but to all of us. It is part of our collective history.      




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