Tuesday, June 22, 2021

‘Naach – Bungla’, Technical Institute or United Club

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By Ashok Kumar

Yes, all were in the same building at different times on ‘C’ Road Bistupur. As far as my information goes the red colored British architect building was Naach- Bungla or dancing hall for the westerners and their families who were in great numbers when the Tata Steel plant started in 1907.Eventually in 1921 this became the Technical institute when the “C” Class apprenticeship started. My father was also one of the 16 boys selected who were having minimum qualification of having passed 10th Standard or 12th standard in first class .My father had finished his 3rd year engineering and he left the company within a year to complete his BE degree from Mysore university and then after his completion of BE degree joined Mysore PWD. Other notable persons of the first batch of ‘C’ class apprentice were M/S M D Kapila, Sambashivan, Panji Rao, Suku Sen and others. Eventually Most of them ended up as MDs of various steel plants in India.

Now the classification of trainees in 1921 were as, “A” class meaning Westerners who were Engineering graduates, “B” Class meaning Indian Engineering graduates (who were rare) and thus was started “C “ class apprenticeship in 1921 with basic 10th or 12th standard pass and they were trained in Metallurgy for three years in the Technical Institute before taking over fairly decent jobs in various departments. It should be noted the supervisors’ position for Indians were given after mid 1930s or so.

I do not know in which year but the technical institute moved to “N” Road and thus the United Club took its birth in the same building. Only the main building was given to the club. The present United Club office building was a broadcasting station for week end entertainment and they were broadcasting of Hindi movie music for the public. This broadcasting continued till 1961 or so and then stopped. In this building there were three small rooms and a huge hall belonging to Public relations department of TISCO. There was one Subramanyan who was in charge of taking care of the office and preserving the thousands of 78 RPM gramophone records. He was very meticulous and had very systematically kept the Gramophone records in hundreds of steel shelves and he knew exactly where a particular movie song was kept. As I was fond of old Hindi songs I used to visit Mr Subramanyan and make him play the songs of my liking on the electric record player till around 1970.The company’s last record purchases were that of “Jis Desh me Ganga Behathi hai”,Jab Pyar Kisise hotha hai, Kohinoor, Saranga, Chaliah, Mughal eh Azam, Sasural, Kanhaiya”, and few other movies of 1961.

Every weekend on Saturdays between 6 to 7 PM or 6-30 to 7-30 Pm depending on whether it was winter or summer, one smart lady wife of a senior officer of the company (I know the name but not mentioning it) used to come and would talk on the mike , a little about general news of Jamshedpur and then play Hindi film songs and it was mostly of listeners’ choice. Anyone could drop a post card giving their choice of the song and when their turn came it would be played and the public could hear the same. This Lady was very good in announcing (In Hindi) and would also mention the name of the person who made the request for a particular song.

Imagine there were no wireless or Radio waves and the broadcasting was done with the speaker wires passing from the broadcasting office to Sonari Maidan, Bari Maidan and ‘G’ Town community center. Obviously, the reception and quality of the broadcasting was not good but all the same people used to come in great numbers and sit on the lawn or culvert and eat some ‘Fakira Chanachur’ and enjoy the music in all these three places.

By the end of 1961 the broadcasting program was discontinued by TISCO. In 1970 or ‘71 the entire office of the broadcasting station was closed. By then the system was out dated and record players and cassette recorders were owned by many individuals at home. Mr.Subramanyan had also retired and it was only right to stop something which was by then not required. Later on, this building was handed over to United Club by Tata Steel. But I do not know what happened to the thousands of 78 RPM gramophone records. It would have been a collectors’ item now.

Apart from this occasionally TISCO used to show open air full projection movies to the public at various places at Sonari Maidan. This was also discontinued in 1963.

I am sure people who joined TISCO in 1940s and 50s will have more details to narrate on this.

Just thought of sharing this as it may be news to many now.


1) In mid 1970s one of our new and young Basketball player Harbhajan Singh (He is currently the secretary of The Jharkhand State Basketball Association) came to me and said “Sir, a small time business man in our Bustee, wants to donate a trophy and he says that it should be in his name as memorial trophy”. But Harbhajan had told the businessman that memorial means a person who is not alive, but this man insisted “No I want it as my memorial as all trophies are publicized as memorial trophy”. However, what happened after that is for Harbhajan to narrate.

2) In mid 1960s I was acting as Mill Foreman in Blooming Mill number1 in ‘B’ Shift (2 pm to 10pm). The hydraulic shear of blooming mill stopped working. As the General foreman was not available at home, I rang up Mr.S.Ramanathan at around 8 PM (Asst. Superintendent and Mechanical Engineer).Ms Ramanthan picked up and as she was known to me she said “Asok, he has just come home and has gone to take shower. What is the problem” I told her that the Hydraulic shear has stopped working she casually said “Tell the attendant in the intensifier room to bleed the 150cc Valve and it may start. If not, I will tell him as soon as he comes after his bath” Believe it or not it worked. (She must have heard this from him Mr.Ramanathan 1000 times).

3) In Another occasion in mid 1960s when there was a break down in the crop conveyor of blooming mill, the mechanical Mistry wanted Oxygen Cylinder from stores. As there was short supply of Oxygen cylinders permission was required by any of the superintendents to issue the oxygen cylinder from stores. So, one of my colleagues gave a ring to Ramanathan at his residence. He had just left the office and had not reached home yet and was on the way driving his car. But Ramanathan who picked up the phone just said “Ok permission given and I will tell him when he comes home”.

Is not it great.

(You can check both incidences with Mr & Ms Ramanathan at Chennai).

In 1960s to mid-70s I have seen Mr. D P Kharia, Mr. Pareek Electrical Engineer, Mr.S Ramanathan (Mechanical),Mr.K S Laxman, Mr V.Chary of Blast Furnaces and many others working for 12 to 16 hours daily in the plant. That was the way of life in Tata Steel in those days, but all of them enjoyed doing it also.

(Ashok Kumar is former Tata Steel (TISCO LTD) official. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author.)

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