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Hari Dang

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Rector
Padma Shri, 1976 (Sports)[1]
Hari Dang and Indira Gandhi, St. Paul's School, Darjeeling.jpg
Hari Dang with Indira Gandhi outside Rectory. He was Rajiv Gandhi's hallmaster at Doon.
Tenure on the Post 1977 - 1984 (7 years)
Preceded By M.W.C. Cross
Succeeded By J.A. Gardner
Death 23rd July 2016 (Aged 81)[2]
Department English, French, Chemistry, Geography
Spouse Renu Dang (till her death in 1993)
Children Himraj Dang, Rupin Dang

Hari Kant Dang held various portfolios:

  • School-Master at The Doon School, Dehra Dun, 1959-70.
  • Principal, The Air Force School, Subroto Park, Delhi Cantonment, 1970-77.
  • Rector, St. Paul's School, Darjeeling, 1977-84.
  • Principal, The Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi, 1984-90.

He did his schooling from Modern School, Barakhamba Road, Delhi and earned a degree in Chemistry from St. Stephen's College, DU.

Personality[edit]

His name Hari translates ‘green’ in English. He refused to sign in any colour of ink but green! Add to that he had an outlandish long signature, travelling all the way to Timbuktu!

Mr Dang used to call Indira Gandhi Indu. He was Rajiv Gandhi's hallmaster at Doon. Had a famous trick at SPS. If DM etc called on him at Rector's office, he would pick up the phone while the guy was waiting, and pretend talk to Indu, sharing the old gas etc.

He was a strident environmentalist and was the editor of the Global Journal of Sustainable Development. He was also an advisor for many national committees – Government on Education and National Integration, and was awarded the Padma Shri in 1976 for youth services.

Mountaineering Career[edit]

In 1961, he trekked to Nanda Devi, an expedition led and organized by Gurdial Singh. For them, it was a preparatory climb for Everest. Though they didn’t summit the Nanda Devi (at 20,000 feet, after setting up Camp II it was recognized that they didn’t have the organizational depth to reach the 25,645 feet high summit) they did make the first ascent of Devistan 1 (21,910 feet) and the second ascent of Maiktoli (22,320 feet). In a departure from the practice at the time, Hari and a couple of others decided to try and climb Trisul (23,360 feet) by moonlight. They set off from Base Camp as night fell on a full moon night and reached almost 22,000 feet before clouds obscured the moon and they were obliged to retrace their steps.

In 1962, Hari went on the First Indian Everest expedition in 1962 with Gurdial Singh and 12 others, led by John Dias. It was naturally quite daring because how many Indians could have then claimed to have attempted Mt Everest? During this summit attempt he spent three nights at 27,650 ft. Two of those nights were spent without oxygen, with Capt MS Kohli and Sonam Gyatso. In 1962, it was a world record of sorts.The expedition returned with Hari missing the summit perhaps with only 400 feet left – and with frostbitten toes. Later he had to be carried down from Base Camp. He was helicoptered out of Thyangboche and was treated in France over many months. Everest was a hard knock, the debacle of 1962 a hard shock that never went away (it marked an end to his serious climbing career) but life had other compensations.

After recovering from his frostbite, in 1965 he planned a Doon School expedition for the ascent of Jaonli (22.250’), a virgin peak in the Garhwal Himalayas. They could not make it to the summit on account of bad weather. Next year again he planned another assault when the summit was finally reached.

He loved mountains. You’d expect that from a mountaineer. Yes, he loved forests and rivers. You’d expect that from a shikari and angler. He had a grand passion for Garhwal. From his journeys to his favorite Jaonli, to Har-ki-dun and Black Peak, and the adored Nanda Devi, he had seen the high mountains of Garhwal.

At Doon School[edit]

[3] When he visited the Doon, to write a story for The Statesman, John Martyn persuaded him to become a school master.

In due course of time he was ready to take up higher responsibilities heading other schools, the template for the rest of his life was set. He had cultivated many intellectual interests in his Doon years, and he was going to pursue them all. He became a multi-faceted personality, as any who met him would recall, but it really started with the Athenians at the Doon; Cheetal, the magazine he edited for the WPSI out of Astley Hall; and the many contributions on mountaineering for the Himalayan Club. The engagement with inquisitive, growing young minds, was a boon, which really helped him grow in so many dimensions. A simpler, more narrowly-focused job, would never have encouraged this.

Even in the fading years, once he was diagnosed with liver cancer, he would be counting Pied Hornbills with us in the sal trees at Thano and Phandowala; eating kaphal on the long road with unusual Pines from Kaddukhal to Surkhanda; driving out to Magra, Devalsari and Pathar khol, so we could walk up Nag Tibba and Lurntsu; walking up to Sat Tal above Tharali to see the lovely Jalandhri Gad across the Bhagirathi, where he had walked not so long ago with Rupin and his young family; setting us off at Barsu last Diwali, encouraged by his stories, from Dayara to Dodital via Lambidhar; fishing at the Aglar junction en route to what turned out to be a farewell visit to Chakrata; driving through Rajaji from Mohan to Dholkhand, Harnaul, and Beri Bara...a staggering collection of fresh memories to overlay the older ones, truly the maturation of an old and consuming passion.

In Hari Dang’s life there are other memories, other adventures, and other friendships, but this lifelong affair with Garhwal and the Doon valley was special. And it began with his appointment as a teacher at The Doon School.

References[edit]

  1. Home Ministry Website. Search "Dang"
  2. The Outdoor Journal
  3. Doon School Fb Page
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