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President wants the Doon School to admit girls.

PRESIDENT Pratibha Patil has suggested that one of most elite public schools in the country, which counts former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as an alumnus, should open its gates to girls.

Speaking at The Doon School's platinum jubilee celebrations on Saturday, she remarked: " Women are making rapid strides in every phase of society.

Women are making rapid strides in every sphere of the society. The Doon School should allow girls to avail their excellent education system. Girls should not be deprived of the opportunity of studying in this wonderful school." Uttarakhand Governor Margaret Alva had earlier advocated co- education for the school as well.

The President's remarks took the school management by surprise.

The headmaster, Dr Peter McLaughin, said in a lighter vein, " We should work out something serious on this -- from tomorrow onwards." The President was the chief guest at the celebrations, which the king of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk also attended as a special guest. Also present were Alva, Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal, Union cabinet minister of road transport Kamal Nath and Uttarakhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.

Stressing that the younger President wants the Doon School to admit girls generation needs a guiding hand, Patil said: " India stands at a crucial stage. It has many advantages, including a predominantly young population and one of the world's fastest growing economies.

" In these inspiring times, the biggest challenge is to prepare the youth, who are educated and capable, with the skills and the intellectual capacity to meet the various requirements for developing the nation.

" We have to be able to compete with the finest minds in the world. In this, education occupies a crucial position In this, education occupies a crucial position." The Bhutan monarch encouraged the students to enjoy their school years and praised the bond former students shared with their alma mater.

Addressing the gathering the King of Bhutan said: " Live your life to the fullest and enjoy every bit of your student life." Praising the ex- students of The Doon School and their desire to give back to their school, he said: " The Doon School students share a lifetime bond with their school. That's a unique example and should be replicated," he said.

The Doon School, which has seen former chief ministers, generals and well- known authors pass through its door, was established on September 19, 1935, with a mere 70 boys. Naveen Patnaik, chief minister of Orissa is a former student, as are writers Vikram Seth and Amitav Ghosh.

The venue for the President's address was shifted from the main field to the multipurpose hall, offering a limited capacity of about 550 seats.

The main pandal was damaged by the Friday evening storm. A big screen was installed near the cafeteria to beam live pictures to the around 2,000 odd guest attending the function.

Copies of a coffee table book on the school, Story of the Doon School by Karan Puri, were presented to the President and the monarch.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Oct 24, 2010
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