My Fabindia Education - A recollection

On 18th August, last , I formally started my career as the Executive Assistant to the Managing Director Fabindia. As it happend to be, 18th August was also the day when my Alma mater; the Fabindia School, Bali was celebrating its 20th Anniversary.
I have spent all my life at Fabindia. My father worked for the best part of his career at the Fabindia school since 1990 and My uncle even before that, from 1988.Fabindia, has been an integral part of my family's identity.
When I  joined Mr. William Bissell as his assistant, life came to a full circle. I learnt the first steps of life at the Fabindia school, most of what I am today was shaped at the Fabindia School and by Mr. Bissell's vision and now I am learning my first steps in professional world  under his guidance,thus,what I will be, is also being shaped by the same vision. Hence, I proclaim myself a "Thoroughbred Fabindian".



What is this vision? is the question , I intend to explore here. I often used to tell my friends at St. Stephen's College, that the biggest asset I possessed was a very liberal education, I received in the first few years of  my life at the Fabindia School.  I still remember talking  with a volunteer from the Princeton University about the difference between Communism and Socialism in class VII !!! At that early age, when internet still was a rare privilege in Bali, I was exposed to the world of ideas, to the best minds and to a  of cultures. I think creating curiosity and having a mechanism to address that curiosity is what education should be all about and that's what the Fabindia education did to me.
I remember, how for a whole term we did not go for  the regular classes in English, instead we chose a topic of our interest and wrote a paper and presented it before the class.My brother who is an avid horse lover actually brought a real horse for the presentation. He otherwise was considered an academically 'poor' student, scored the second highest grades for his project, this is what happens when you give a child freedom to learn. Another such instance, I would like to share here is when we had a meeting of our student council and a whole day passed by discussing, how The Fabindia school can contribute to the Local Community. Mr. Jayant Biswas, the former principal, who was considered a very strict disciplinarian, was actively participating in this deliberation with kids barely 15-16 years old.We did not build a road or a hospital after this discussion, but the fact that we were told that we had some responsibility towards the society made a whole lot of difference. It was the first step to create responsible citizens.
The point I want to emphasize here is at a very early age I was exposed to a very different idea of the purpose of education. For most of my  peers in other schools, it ended with good marks.But for me, it meant  constant questioning and thinking. I sometimes think that this has made me some sort of a rebel and is sometimes very disturbing.
I come from a culture where freedom of expression is determined by  many factors such as age, gender, caste etc.However, at school we had no restrictions.We were encouraged to express ourselves.In a culture, where girls hardly went out of their homes, were encouraged to play leadership roles here.It was a real revolution!! 
When I started writing this, I thought, I had forgotten a lot of things but now half way down, my mind is full of those memories and I feel I can write a whole book about it. But I would save it for future!
Continuing with the kind of liberal environment we had at the Fabindia School, I would like to especially mention Ms. Pritha Ghosh. She has had a tremendous influence on the kind of education imparted at the school and  on my life personally. I remember how she made sure that corporal punishment should not be used in whatsoever way. It was a revolutionary idea in Bali. I remember how parents and teachers were initially very uneasy because 'danda'  was the only known means to ensure discipline, thanks to our feudal culture.
I sometimes ask myself what my problem is? Why do I have to question everything ? Why do I have to look for a different way? Why can't I take life as it is?
I found answer to all these questions last night and decided to write this. The answer is my education at the Fabindia school. When you expose somebody to revolutionary ideas everyday, when you open up the skies of imagination, the heights of possibility and  the courage to question, you would produce people like me. Sometimes uneasy,critical, too vocal and always questioning. People who always want to hear good news would not like us. It makes life struggling but I would rather struggle then to accept life as it is.That's how I have been educated. It makes life so much worth living.
Fabindia  School's vision is  something that people formulating our education policies, should learn from and I wish all children would get the kind of education I got. Here, we should also be mindful that in the present environment where education is a"hot commodity' on sale, we should remain loyal to our vision. It has taken two decades and a number brilliant minds to build this vision. The onus to carry forward this vision also falls on the alumni who are the products of this vision.
I would like to thank my parents for giving me the best education available in India. A very liberal education at the Fabindia school in those formative years , than at one of the best schools in Rajasthan- Mayoor School and finally St Stephens college where I got the privilege of interacting and befriend with the best minds in India.
What a Journey!!!!
Yogender Singh Padamputa

Follow by Email

Back Issues of The School Weekly