Respecting Teachers: Lahore’s Last Statue Standing?

Posted on December 21, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Architecture, Education, Society
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Adil Najam

Our friend Darwaish posted this picture at Metroblog Lahore claiming that it is the very last statue of a human figure standing at its original location in Lahore (outside the ‘old campus’ of Punjab Univeristy).

I have no reason at all to doubt his claim and am fairly sure that he is, in fact, right. But I wanted to check with our readers if this is indeed so. Do you know of other statues; in Lahore or elsewhere?

(I recall that discussion on an earlier post about a Gandhi statue outside the Sindh High Court that now stands in the Indian High Commission; and someone on Lahore Metroblog hinted that now there are many new statues all over the major cities – mostly of Ronald MacDonald and Col. Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken!).

This statue, by the way, is of Prof. Alfred Woolner who was a long-serving professor of Sanskrit, as well as vice-chancellor of Punjab University between 1928 and 1936.

Being in the same profession as Mr. Woolner, I am intrigued by this picture at many levels. For example, it is ironic that the statue of a professor has been vandalized by what seems to be a student organization of some sort. Whatever this may or may not tell us about the state of statues in Pakistan, it also says a lot about the respect that professors once held in our society and now do not.

Only yesterday, Mast Qalandar was writing in these columns about Islamia College Peshawar and the discussion led to a conversation on the contribution of Prof. Hubert Michael Close, one of the College’s remarkable professors. We have, of course, also been talking recently of cheating professors at Punjab Univeristy. One wonders if there are still professors in our colleges and Universities who are revered as Prof. Woolner here, or Prof. Close at Islamia College, were.

I have a tayya (uncle) who alway very proudly, and rightly proudly, tells me that his teachers were Sufi Tabassum and Faiz Ahmad Faiz. I know there are still many who should be revered and who excel at the craft and art of teaching. Yet, do we as a society even think that teachers are worthy of respect? And, can a society that does not respect teachers, even be considered respectable?

19 Comments on “Respecting Teachers: Lahore’s Last Statue Standing?”

  1. Samdani says:
    December 21st, 2006 2:06 am

    You want respect for teachers, professor sahib? :-)
    Wrong place, wrong time.

  2. Zeeshan says:
    December 21st, 2006 7:51 am

    this is indeed that status standing in lahore. but you wait for the next riot and someone will suddenly decide to bring it down.

  3. December 21st, 2006 9:28 am

    I’ve been reading ATP for about a month now and am pretty much glued to it. kudos to all!

    As per respect for teachers, I think its a two way story. First current day students are in ‘general’ not blessed with good teachers like they used to be sometime ago. So the general respect is also low. Many teachers (not all) these days are losers of their actual career pursuits. The slogan goes ‘if u cant do, teach!’.
    And due to this every year, education standard is degrading.

    But i won’t blame the teachers for this. Its our society, which did it all. We are not a knowledge seeking society so we don’t give much heed to education and its institute. Teaching career was started to be taken as a low financial income career, totally undermining the respect and responsibility which comes with it.
    Teachers were and are pressurized at their jobs by parents, by administration, by students…

    What we do at our old school alumni, we try to invite faculty on our gatherings and give them at least the respect they deserve. And apparently it works! They perform better in classes when asked from our siblings and younger ones…
    after all they r humans too!

  4. Samdani says:
    December 21st, 2006 10:38 am

    I am very surprised that a statue is still standing and specially because of where it is…

    I do not agree that teachers are any less than they were. I do think that there was an in built respect for teachers as a profession, still is in many other parts of the world. But we have lost that respect. So it is circular. If there are bad teachers that itself is partly because society does not give the incentives (respect as well as financial) for better people to come into the profession.

    I do think that some of this is changing because of private univeristies and HEC which are now paying good salaries.

  5. Mustafa says:
    December 21st, 2006 10:41 am

    Yeah, hands down, ATP has been phenomenal and has done an incredible job. Congrats! It really takes efforts like these to get where we all want to get as a nation.

    I would love to see Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s Statue in Pakistan. I don’t have an iota of doubt in my mind that we all need to revisit his teachings and guidance. I would even pay/donate for it.

    He was really a true visionary who knew (even in 1880s) that we were only going to hurt ourselves by not taking on a more moderate and enlightened approach.

    Lots of Respect PLUS deserved reward (Intellectual Property Protection, Scholarly Papers, Compensation, Institution standards) for Profs & Teachers is just IMPERATIVE for a society to succeed.

    **Maybe I summed up many problems that we face today, but at least we can take a start. It is never too late.


  6. Anwar says:
    December 21st, 2006 11:03 am

    Under the present state of affairs it boils down to pure economics and soical pressures of low income. Just like doctors hauling patients from govt. hospitals to their private clinics, teachers followed the same model and started tutoring privately to supplement their living – classrooms therefore became cold facilities to produce “another brick in the wall”- a mechanical function that does not require any respcet. It is rather unfortunate situation but can be turned around.

  7. MQ says:
    December 21st, 2006 11:12 am


    You have brought up two points in this post: respect for and recognition of good teachers and having their statues, or any statues for that matter.

    On statues, don’t forget we are a nation of “but-shikans” and not “but-taraash”. Remember Mehmood Ghaznavi? I am surprised how did this particularly statue escape the wrath of the mullahs on campus?

    I am not sure but I think there are several large statues, done in European style, in Mohatta Palace, Karachi, which is a public building now.

  8. Moeen Bhatti says:
    December 21st, 2006 11:43 am

    I think its a separate discussion that if we are “but-shikans” or “but-taraash”; fact is we only follow Islamic things that suits us or that allow
    our consious to get away with.
    It is a fact that our society has changed and teachers & scholars don’t have a respect. I believe it reflects the values of our society.Having said that, I also believe that old teachers in schools used to verbally & physically abuse their students.

  9. Deeda-i-Beena says:
    December 21st, 2006 1:46 pm

    Talking of Teachers and Statues, they always live. Remember Socrates for Aristotle and for all of us. And of course Michelangelo.
    There was a Professor G. M. Fritters, a German Jew who Headed Pol.Sc. Deptt. at Punjab University in the 50′s and with what wisdom and command. A bit of an eccentric but so what.
    About the same time Lahore had Ozzir Zuby the Sculptorist.
    Does anyone know what happened to these two???????

  10. Deeda-i-Beena says:
    December 21st, 2006 1:53 pm

    By the way, “The Malika da But” the Statue of Queen Victoria was last seen by me collecting dust in the entrance hall of the Lahore museum. The Marble building/platform where it was housed still stands at the grounds in front of the Punjab Legilature.

  11. Moeen Bhatti says:
    December 21st, 2006 3:04 pm

    There used to be a statue of an old solider,who fought in World War 2, and got Queen Victoria Cross in the Army Mueseum(near GHQ). He was from Baluch Reg. I saw it like couple of decades ago, I am not sure if its still there.

  12. Darwaish says:
    December 21st, 2006 4:42 pm

    The statue has survived all the madness so far probably because its not very visible from main mall road. There are so many people i know who have never noticed it. strange but true :).

    I hope it doesn’t become too popular, thanks to ATP, otherwise its days are numbered in my view.

    This whole thing got me interested in mentioning some of the other statues of Lahore. Like there used to be a bronze statue of Queen Victoria that was placed in the pavilion of the Punjab assembly chambers. It was removed in 1951 and later Mr. Bhutto got a bronze replica of Holy Quran placed there in 1974 before the famous OIC summit. Then there was a marble statue of Sardar Diyan Singh in Diyal Singh library who was also the owner of famous Diyal Singh Mansion. Sir Ganga Ram’s statue stood outside Lahore Museum and I read somewhere that later it was dumped into the parking lot of NCA and from there it just disappeared.

    Perhaps the most controversial statue was that of Lord John Lawrence (viceroy 1864-69 and Punjab’s former governor general). The statue, placed in a small garden near the Punjab High Court, generated huge protests in 1920′s because it displayed the following inscription: “By which will ye be governed: by the pen or the sword?â€

  13. Dr. Akbar says:
    December 21st, 2006 10:21 pm

    The statues went away in the 1950s and I do not think they are coming back but we do not need them. You can name buildings for people you want to pay respect to. Or have monuments without statues of people. The point is respect, not statues.

  14. javed says:
    December 23rd, 2006 2:34 pm

    very interesting article. thank you

  15. MU says:
    December 28th, 2006 12:20 pm

    Here is one statue in Lahore (NCA?);(

  16. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    March 1st, 2008 11:57 am

    Ustaad ki Izzat !!!

    @ Teacher’s respect was the first victim of Educational
    disaster the left has brought to Pakistani Eudcational
    Institutions, the only autonom “idaarah” in Pakistan.

    I stand witness that my respect for all my teachers
    Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Parsis men & women
    was and is without any distinction or difference,
    Allah bless them all, I have debts towards all of them.

    Ustani Wiqar-un-nisa’a who taught me reading and
    understanding Quran-e-Karim in Urdu/Arabic from
    day one till Khatam-alQuran, she transmitted Lukhnowi
    Urdu and Paan (Allah Bakhshay) to me as well.

    Sir Mirza Abdel Hameed Baig Pricipal & English
    Mrs Maryam Farooqui Head-mistress & English
    Mrs. De Sousza English Litrature & poetry
    Mrs. Kharrass Piano teacher
    Sir Shafiullah Subconti History, (my favourite)
    Sir De mello Pak History
    Sir Siraj-uddin Maths (brilliant Ustaad)
    Sir Jaffer Urdu, litrature,poetry
    Miss. Nusrat Musique
    Mrs. Noorbi Appa Urdu Drama
    Sir Alam Econimics
    Sir Hussaini Sports
    Appa Badrunnisa P.T
    Sir Hassan Adil Politcial Science
    Sir Manohar Lal
    Chaudhri Accounts Book-keeping
    Sir Mukkaram Ali
    Khan Sherwani political History of subconti

  17. Debashish Mitra says:
    March 20th, 2009 5:23 am

    The tales of my maternal great grandfather (who was Graduate from Lahore University), Vajpayee bus trip to Lahore, Cricket Matches and the play ‘Jinne Lahore Nai Vekhya’ made me excited to see & roam Lahore city. Being a Delhiite, 15 years back had an opportunity to meet Pakistan (Jr) Hockey team near Connaught Place. They said that Lahore is much like Delhi. Very rich in its culture & traditions. Indeed so as it appears from the picture. I definitely look forward to see this charming city at some point of time. May God keep our relations at the best.

  18. Adnan says:
    May 13th, 2009 11:04 am

    I would say that teachers in our society or in any other society of the world do not really get the respect they deserve from their students,but thats only until the student has not left the school or college etc. as soon as they leave their comfortable student life and head towards their not so welcoming “Practical life” they begin to realise the the importance of a teacher,a father or anyone else who has supported them in any way.I am very sure that,when it was made,no student of that time had any thing to do with this statue of a great teacher.Its just that nobody cares for anything as long as they are spoon fed.
    I wont start a “dars ” or something cuz im not an Alim,but at least i know this much that their are many other ways to comemorate someone great,why do have to stick to statues which very strongly prohibited in our religion.Respect is not a meterial thing

  19. August 21st, 2016 6:14 pm

    [...] Najam’s post on Lahore and its only statue made extremely nostalgic. I am however, excited as I will be there [...]

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