Jia Lal Koul Nazir was born at Zainakadal in 1897. His father Pt. Rishi Kaul was a petty landowner in Sebdan, a village close to Srinagar. The Jagir was too small to take care of the family consisting of seven members.
The mantle of supplementing meagre family income fell on Jia Lal Koul, who was the eldest among four sons and a daughter.
He had sharp intellect, and excellent communicating skills.
He became popular among students and would get many offers to coach his juniors as well as peers. Income generated from tuitions helped Jia Lal to take care of his education as well as that of his siblings.
Jia Lal was a precocious student, brilliant at studies, a well-disciplined student and good at extra-curricular activities. He had strong instincts to master languages and loved to read literature even when he was in his teens. Writing prose and composing poetry was a passion with him. His name de plume was ‘Nazir’.
His personality and amiable nature endeared him to teachers in school as well as in College.
After passing his graduation from S.P. College, Srinagar in 1916 Jia Lal went to NWFP to serve as a senior teacher in a private school at Hotimardan.
Impressed by his teaching and administrative capabilities Jia Lal was deputed by the school management to Lahore to take degree in B.T. from Punjab University.
He served Hotimardan school for 4-5 years and had also a stint as its Headmaster. Family compulsions forced Jia Lal to bid adieu to a satisfying and wellpaid job. At Srinagar he was appointed as TGT by the State Education Department. Soon his commitment to teaching profession and reputation as a conscientious teacher spread far and wide. This brought him to the notice of his superiors- Headmaster, Inspector and Director. He would be assigned higher responsibilities and roles in the department than his rank would otherwise warrant.
In late 1920s Jia Lal was posted to Kishtwar as Head Master of local Government Middle School. He introduced in his school the novel concept of Basic Educationist as propounded by Dr. ZakirHussain, then an eminent education and later President of India. Under this scheme he made arrangements to teach the famous weaving craft of the place-Kishtwar wollen blankets to senior outgoing students. At the same time the local artisans were taught how to read and write, providing trade-skills to the educated and literary gains to the otherwise illiterate artisans.
This drew the ire of the short-sighted higher-ups in the department. The Director served him a stern warning, claiming that ‘teaching hours’ were wasted.
Renowned Educationist KG Saidain was appointed Director of Education by J&K Government in 1937. He implemented the Basic Education Scheme in the state. To this end a Teachers Training school was set up in Srinagar. For running this novel educational institute special staff was required. Hundreds of senior trained teachers, Headmasters and Inspectors were called for interview. Jia Lal Koul Nazir too had been called. When the Chairman of Selection Board, the Director of Education asked him to submit testimonials to justify his claim for the post. The members of the Board were a little amused when Pt. Jia Lal produced warning issued by the then Director of Education for introduction of Dr. Zakir Hussain’s scheme. On perusal of the warning Mr. KG Saidain was taken aback and subjected him to a volley of questions to test his competence. Jia Lal Nazir was chosen for the post of Supervisor of Teaching-cum-Superintendent Jia Lal’s good work at this Institute contributed a lot to the development of education in the state. In the Institute Jia Lal Kaul Nazir enjoyed extraordinary relationship with his pupils, teachers, fellow-teachers and superiors. He attained superannuation in 1954.
Nazir Sahib, the popular name by which he was called could write fluently, be it Urdu or English.
His services were often solicited for drafting rules, regulations, courses, model lessons, texts, dissertations, minutes, memoranda, reports etc. He would often serve as a member or secretary of various committees/ commissioned constituted from time to time in his career.
His reports bore the stamp of excellence and were marked for accuracy, brevity and eloquence.
Pt. Jia Lal also authored Text- Books on History and Social Studies for schools. Well-known acquaintances and strangers alike often thronged his Ali Kadal residence, even at odd times, to seek his guidance in personal and professional matters. He never disappointed any.
Pt. Jia Lal Nazir was a man of great integrity. He politely declined the offer of then Minister of Education, Sadiq Sahib to serve as in Advisor to the Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Nawakadal after retirement.
However, he accepted the assignment, a teaching one, at a private Teachers Training College in Srinagar. He continued to take class for one hour daily in the afternoon here till his demise in June 1970. He is survived by three sons and two daughters.
Pt. Jia Lal abhorred ritualism and laid more stress on good conduct in life. To those who did not know him as a teacher he is remembered for his erudite weekly broadcast over Radio Kashmir ‘Hamara Miras’ in Urdu.
This endeavour which reflected sound scholarship was started by him in 1948. He delved into varied dimensions of culture of Kashmir-scenic splendour, people, arts and crafts, cuisine, culture, music, history, spiritualism, religions traditions.
This series which ran into more than hundred talks received wide acclaim from literary circles in the state and outside.
(Sentinel Research Bureau)