History of Old NED Engineering College - Info You Will Not Find Elsewhere

By Humayoun Jawaid Ahmed (C70)
Several documents can be found with brief history of the College. Most of these begin in 1920 or 1921 and do not say much about the 3 decades of struggle that preceded the 1921 founding of the NED Civil Engineering College. We dug and came across some interesting facts about the College's history which is quite intertwined with that of the D J Sind Government Science College,

Back in late 19th century, Sind was an undeveloped province. We came across some documents which then referred to the province as the "Valley of Darkness". But there was a lot of public works and infrastructure projects that were under way. The construction of the railway link that would eventually connect Karachi and Hyderabad to Upper Sind was under way along with several roads and other projects. To fulfill the need for the overseers for these projects, an "Engineering Branch" affiliated with the University of Bombay had been established in Hyderabad around 1930's. The classes covered fundamentals of constructions and civil engineering and did not lead to any diploma.

As D J College got started, the need for technical education was felt very keenly. The first Principal of the D J College, Dr Mullineux R Walmsley, arrived in 1887 from England with an assumption that the technical education was a major part of the college curriculum. He was very much disappointed with what he discovered and wrote to the College Committee:

"...that Mr. Kirkham certainly led me to believe, in London, that the position of the Technical Education in Sind was much more forward than appears to be the case. I cannot therefore help feeling very much disappointed at finding it in the very embryonic state..."

Dr M J Jackson

Dr Walsmsley stayed for about a year and returned to England where he headed Northampton Polytechnic for the rest of his life. The second Principal, Dr Moses John Jackson, assumed command in early 1888. He was also enamored with Technical Education and for the next 19 years he tirelessly nurturned the science and technical programs. Shortly after he assumed command of the College, the Hyderabad Engineering Branch was transferred to D J College, then known as Sind Arts College and located in its original building on Bunder Road and not where it is now. The new facilities for D J College were to be completed in the following 5 years and provided improved facilities, as described by a former student later.

"The upper portion of the southern wing ... was taken up by the Principal's office room, the Professors' common room, the library, and the laboratories. On the ground floor of the wing was the Engineering School, the College then being at Poona only. From this school, students who passed out were taken up as Over-seers in the Public Works Department. We used to see them sawing wood and doing other work there."

With the Hyderabad Engineering Branch transferred to D J College, Dr Jackson and his staff worked very hard to continue developing the Engineering program and established high standards. He was a disciplinarian and was very strict about the standard of education at the College. Another former student, who studied engineering, wrote this:

"I was an Engineering student of the D. J. Sind College in the years 1900 to 1903. Our Pricipal during this period was Dr. Jackson. No doubt, he was a 'man' amongst men.

'My Engineers' he used to call us. We had several classes jointly with the F.A. and the Inter class students of the Arts Course and he would not begin the classes until his 'Engineers' came in.

Yet, he was very strict with us... When I joined the Engineering Course in the year 1900, we were in all 21 students... We dwindled down to ten by the time we sat for our Preliminary. Two of us were not certified, and of the eight who were allowed to sit for the Annual. two were plucked and six were asked to re-appear for a special test, in subjects in which we had obtained two or three marks less or more than the number required. And after all that, only one of us was promoted and the all the rest were declared to have failed."

The improvement and expansion of Engineering program was Dr Jackson's pet project. He had set his sights on getting the Engineering Section coverted to a diploma program, if not a degree course. The College was affiliated with the University of Bombay. He dedicated years of effort in getting the needed sanctions from the University of Bombay. There was a long trail of circulars and correspondence between Dr Jackson's staff and the University about the changing requirements and targets set by the University. One of the documents we found noted:
"It is amusing to find Dr jackson failing to get his pet students of Engineering, a Diploma, a piece of paper with permission to attach a few letters after one's name, when a course of teaching that was recognised to be strenuous and thorough, had been completed... amusing to my mind to read circulars containg commentaries on the importance of certain pieces of apparatus for the laboratory before sanction could be received for their purchase, and notes on such unimportant matters as the starting of of a Debating Society."
Dr Jackson's struggle to get his students a Diploma continued. There was a feeling that the staff at the University of Bombay did not fully understand the needs of the students in Sind. As early as 1890's, he had written/stated:
"...the College should, therefore, endeavour largely to shake itself from the shackles of the University of Bombay, and in these matters follow a line of its own... it is not certain that what is thought best for Bombay is necessarily also best for Sindhi students."

Dr Jackson's tenure ended in 1907. He had been the Principal for nearly 20 years. He failed to get the conversion of the Engineering Program to a diploma/degree course, but he had laid a sturdy foundation for a demanding Engineering program with very high standards. Eleven years and 3 Principals after his departure came S C Shahani. This was an era of post-war boom, optimism, and a lot of activity and principal Shahani's efforts were to bear a reality for Dr Jackson's dream.
Note: In some documents T M Shahani is shown to be the 1918-1927 Principal, but most of the other documents indicate that it was S C Shahani

Principal S C Shahani

After S C Shahani became the D J college Prrincipal in 1918, he renewed the efforts to get the Engineering Branch upgraded to a degree college. He ran into the same issues in acceptance from University of Bombay as Dr Jackson had two decades earlier. In frustration, affiliation with a different university was considered. His struggle would continue for over a decade but finally was successful. The following image of an excerpt from a 1937 document summarizes his efforts and achievement:

Hoshang N E Dinshaw

Nadirshaw Edulji Dinshaw

The following 4 paragraphs (in blue) summarize the post-1921 NED history well and are copied from NED University of Engineering and Technology website:

The new college was originally the Prince of Wales Engineering College but later renamed in memory of Nadirshaw Edulji Dinshaw. The NED College was provisionally granted affiliation on 23-05-1923 by the University of Bombay for the first and second year courses in Civil Engineering and 78 students were provisionally admitted into first year classes in 1922. Permanent affiliation followed in February 1927.

The first-full time Principal of NED Engineering College was Mr. G.N.Gokhale who joined on 1st July 1923. Prior to this, Rai Sahib Bhupatrai had acted as Honorary Principal. The first professor (and Vice Principal) was Mr. S.B. Jannarkar who, along with Mr. Gokhale, did all the spadework in organizing and equipping the various departments and ordering the equipment for the Power House, Boiler Room, Hydraulics Laboratory, Engine Room and Machine Shops.

The original NED Engineering College was housed in four blocks of buildings and two sheds. The main block was named as Seth Fatehchand Dewandas Khilnani Hall. The block housing the Power House, Electrical and Hydraulics Laboratories, and Workshops was named after Bai Puribai and Bacharbai. Further additions were made to this block to provide accommodation for the Machine Shop on the ground floor and a (Mechanical) Drawing Hall on the first floor. The fourth block, completed in 1945, contained a Classroom and Clerk's Office on the ground floor and another (Civil) Drawing Hall on the first floor.

Two sheds were also built, one to house the Carpentry and Smithy Shops, and the other, alongside the Electrical Laboratory and Engine Room, to train technicians. The total cost of the buildings was just over Rs. 265,000 and the cost of equipment (including machinery, electrical instruments; models, steam, gas and oil engines; surveying and leveling instruments), books and furniture was just under Rs. 400,000. The college remained affiliated to the University of Bombay from its inception in 1922 to 1947, after which it was taken over by the Government of Sindh; renamed as NED Government Engineering College and affiliated to the University of Sindh. After establishment of the University of Karachi in 1951, the affiliation of the College was transferred to this University. In 1964 a comprehensive plan was prepared to shift the college from its location in the congested downtown area (where no expansion was possible) to a new site adjoining the University of Karachi. The project was carried out with the assistance of the World Bank which provided Rs.118 millions in two phases and the College was shifted to its new 40 hectare Main Campus in 1975.

Reproduced from "The Young Engineer 1970"

Buried in the pages of the history there is one more interesting tidbit. Principal S C Shahani had a grander vision. It was his dream - 'day dream' as he called it - to raise the stature of the institution to that of a University to be located on a new site which offered a much bigger space for new facilities and expansion. The D J College, the NED College, and the hostel were located in a prime area of the city. The bulk of the funds for the proposed University were to come from selling the sites for the two existing colleges and the hostel. The sale was to realize an estimated 30 to 40 lakhs of rupees. Principal Shahani and the staff worked hard on the scheme, developed the details, prepared the plans, and got it sanctioned by the Board and the Government. All was set to put the plans in motion for building the new University in the Gizri area on the outskirts of Karachi. But it was not to be. The post-war boom declined, and the values of the properties fell rapidly forcing a cancellation of the plans. Both Colleges and the hostel remained where they were.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the great teachers, leaders and donors who made the NED College a reality. These heros were British, Hindu and Parsi visionaries. It is sad to note that contributions, financial or otherwise, from Muslims were little to none. In going through the D J College records, it is apparent that the 1947 partition brought about a mass exodus of non-Muslim staff pushing the junior level faculty to be promoted to higher positions. It can be assumed that the exodus similarly impacted the faculty at NED. It is unfortunate that Prof Anwar Chowdhry passed away in 2010. He had graduated from NED in 1950 and was a student in both pre and post-partition years. His memories and perceptions from those years and the following decades at NED would have been invaluable.

The two colleges shared facilities, other resources, and the Board for quite a while. The following picture, taken in 1936, shows the combined staff of both colleges during a visit by the Vice Chancelor of the University of Bombay. The Principal of NED College at the time was S B Junnarkar who is in the picture along with Mrs Junnarkar, his wife. The other recognizable name listed is Prof A L Shaikh who later became the Principal of the D J College, and still later, beginning in 1961, became the first Principal for Adamjee Science College, Karachi.

As indicated by the above picture, in 1936 the College was still NED Civil Engineering College. But efforts were under way to add the Mechanical and Electrical disciplines to the curriculum. Those efforts were eventually successful. Though the exact years are not known, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering degree programs were added before the 1947 partition and the College became NED Government Engineering College.

Our old NED College campus is a historical site. In 2011, "The Karachi Walla" website published a brief article entitled "City Landmarks - NED City Campus"". The article is brief but it has several pictures which are worth looking at.

We close with the following poem written by our classmate, late Mohammad Muazzam Husain (Civil, 1970). The poem was published in NED's annual magazine "The Young Engineer 1970" .

Search for Dinshaw Statues

By Iqbal Ahmed Khan (M69)

Nadirshaw Edulji Dinshaw statue erected in 1933 opposite the Palace Theater, Karachi

In recognition of the enormous contributions made by the Dinshaw family, statues were erected of Nadirshaw Edulji Dinshaw and the older Edulji Dinshaw at a couple of prominent spots in Karachi. These statues are now preserved at the Parsi Institute, Karachi.

The following article in Urdu published by Dawn News in 2015 describes a search for these historical statues: http://www.dawnnews.tv/news/1019519.

The above article is also the source of the image (at right) of Nadirshaw Edulji Dinshaw statue and has additional pictures of the statues.