Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Hyderabad Public School: In the spirit of giving back

Hyderabad Public School is in the midst of its centenary celebrations, during which it is expected to raise Rs 100 crore from its alumni including Satya Nadella, Ajay Banga, politicians and film stars

Samidha Jain
Published: Dec 26, 2023 11:37:20 AM IST
Updated: Dec 26, 2023 03:57:48 PM IST

Hyderabad Public School: In the spirit of giving backHyderabad Public School, Begumpet which was established in 1923.

“Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe; Ajay Singh Banga, president of World Bank and former CEO of Mastercard; Syed B Ali, head of Cavium Inc; Prem Watsa, founder of Fairfax Financial Holdings in Toronto; parliament leaders, film stars, athletes, academics, and writers—all came from this small, out-of-the-way school,” writes Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, while describing his alma mater, Hyderabad Public School, in his book Hit Refresh. He goes on to write that attending the school was the “best break” he had in life, and that it gave him “some of his greatest memories and a lot of confidence”.

Hyderabad Public School in Begumpet was established in 1923 by HW Wakefield's proposal to the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan. Under the inaugural leadership of HW Shawcross, the school commenced operations in June 1924 with an enrolment of five students and six teachers. Today the school provides education to thousands of students, producing some of the best minds who achieve success across industries, be it entertainment, politics or business. The school is run by the Hyderabad Public School (HPS) Society, which was formed under the Societies Registration Act, and took over the school's management in 1950, allowing admission to students irrespective of caste or creed. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, former President of India, became the first chairman of HPS Society in 1952.

To celebrate its centenary, the school is holding an event from December 24 to 27, which is expected to be attended by notable alumni members such as Shantanu Narayan, CEO of Adobe, Shailesh Jejurkar, COO of P&G, Harsha Bhogle, renowned Indian cricket commentator and journalist, Padma Shri awardee Dr Raghuram, Nandan Reddy, co-founder of Swiggy, and Ishan Chatterjee, managing director of YouTube India, among others. According to Gusti J Noria, president of HPS Society, the school is embarking on an ambitious fundraising initiative during its four-day Grand Finale, to raise a staggering Rs 100 crore from alumni investments for infrastructure development. “This substantial amount will contribute to the realisation of the school's Vision 2050, aiming to accumulate a total of Rs 150 crore for monumental development plans,” says Noria.

Hyderabad Public School: In the spirit of giving backMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella interacting with students of The Hyderabad Public School during a science and tech event 30th September, 2011.

A significant portion of the funds raised, approximately Rs 25 crore, will be allocated specifically for enhancing sports infrastructure, aligning with the school's commitment to holistic education. Additionally, as per Noria, Rs 10 crore will be directed towards the construction of a cutting-edge Innovation Centre, which will be a 15,000-sq ft facility, and will aid in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation culture at the school level. “Within this centre, faculty will actively promote hands-on learning experiences in robotics and artificial intelligence,” he says.

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Skand Bali, principal of HPS, says what makes the school stand out is its overarching philosophy of fostering strong, confident, and effective leaders. “Our curriculum emphasises diverse activities, with a focus on sports and public speaking to instil confidence and character. We aim to nurture educated leaders who, with courage and principles, can address challenges responsibly and strive for perfection, transcending mere academic knowledge to become pillars of society,” he says.

At the four-day fund-raising event, the school has planned activities such as a vintage car showcase, HPS StartX Entrepreneurship initiative, annual alumni sports reunion, HPS golf tournament, a live concert by the acclaimed Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, and more. “The grand finale is a celebration of the school’s rich legacy, bringing together accomplished alumni and offering a vibrant mix of entertainment, intellectual engagement, and entrepreneurial fervour,” says Noria.

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Over the years, the school has received significant contributions from donors, who are often among the school’s alumni and who, according to Noria, have played a pivotal role in sustaining the school's legacy and ensuring a conducive learning environment for future generations. “Our alumni, recognising the value of their HPS education, generously contribute to various aspects of the school's development. The alumni are committed, possessive, and who are willing to roll up their sleeves to do any task for their alma mater.  It could be from directing the school to putting up structures for an event. The passion is ingrained by the time students leave school and always want to come back,” says Noria.

Hyderabad Public School: In the spirit of giving backShailesh Jejurikar, COO, Proctor and Gamble interacting along with other prefects, with former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh NTR during his visit to The Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet in 1982.

The most significant contributors to HPS over the years have been TK Kurien, former executive vice chairman at Wipro, and Uttam Malami, executive director, Centuary Mattresses, among others. According to Noria, the students very fondly remember the school and keep coming back to it. "You could check out any time you like, but you can never leave! [as the lyrics say in Hotel California by The Eagles],” adds Noria.

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While a portion of the funds raised contributes to enhancing the school facilities, a significant share provides education for students from lower-income backgrounds. “Our longstanding partnership with the Social Welfare Department of the Government of Telangana allows us to admit children from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe families with limited financial means. We prioritise societal impact, exemplified by our pioneering practice of allocating 25 percent of seats for underprivileged children well before the Right to Education Act,” says Noria.

Hyderabad Public School: In the spirit of giving backCricket commentator Harsha Bhogle interacting with students in the school library - Jagirdar's Block.

As per the Harvard University website, more than 30,000 college alumni give to the University each year, joined by college parents and alumni from the Harvard Kenneth C Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In 2018, a staggering $1.8 billion was contributed by Michael Bloomberg, a business tycoon and former mayor of New York City, to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Similarly, Phil Knight, a University of Oregon graduate and co-founder of Nike, has consistently infused the college with hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. American media company US News & World Report quoted research by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education published in 2020, which stated that alumni giving at US colleges totalled more than $11 billion in 2019.

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In India too, a number of big business tycoons including Infosys Co-founders Nandan Nilekani and Kris Gopalakrishnan, Indigo Co-founder Rakesh Gangwal, have contributed large amount of funds to their respective alma maters. Recently, the 1998 batch of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay gifted Rs 57 crore to its alma mater as part of the silver jubilee reunion celebration. According to a report by Mint, over 200 alumni members, including Apoorv Saxena, managing director of Silver Lake, Shailendra Singh, managing director of Peak XV, Anupam Banerjee, managing director of Vector Capital, Dileep George from AI Research, Mohan Lakhamraju, CEO of Great Learning, and others, made significant contributions.

“When you're in a position to have gotten so much, the gift at this point is giving back,” said American musician Paul Stanely. With the amount of funds raised, HPS alumni are looking to give back to the place that played a role in shaping their future. HPS’s principal and faculty believe that they instil this quality in many others among their students. “At HPS, we believe that education has the transformative power to shape individuals who not only succeed in their chosen careers but also contribute positively to society,” concludes Bali.