Sunday, October, 17,2021

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A month has passed by and we still feel the absence of the elegant and humble Late Rani Vidya Devi. Her closest friends remember her and cherish the times spent with her! 

Late Rani Vidya Devi of the Royal Family of Jaipur passed away recently after a long battle with cancer. An epitome of grace and elegance, she has left behind an indelible legacy in the field of education and social service.

She was the wife of Maharaj Jai Singh and the daughter of the Raja of Jubbal. She was entrusted with the administration and management of two prestigious educational institutions, the Maharani Gayatri Devi School and the Sawai Man Singh School.

She hailed from Jubbal in Himachal Pradesh and did a small cameo in Satyajit Ray’s Kanchenjunga. Rani Vidya Devi received her education from Loreto Convent Darjeeling, Calcutta University and Delhi School of Economics.

A woman of a calm demeanour, she always had a very soft and warm approach towards people. She was very simple, gentle and soft-spoken. Along with Hindi, she had an amazing command over Bengali, French, Nepali, Spanish and English languages.

As remembered by one of her closest friends, Nirmala Durlabhji said “I had been meeting her off and on over the last twenty odd years and we started working closely as members of MGD’s various committees.

Ranisa was heading the Executive Committee and that allowed me and Jane jija to interact with her on a more regular basis. I was happy to be there to support her in whatever way I could. It was a relationship that grew over the years and her leaving us has left a void that can never be filled.” 

Over the years they developed not just a good working relationship but a very warm and cordial friendship. In the earlier years of her involvement with MGD, Rani Vidya Devi always looked up to Rajmata Gayatri Devi for her support and guidance but very soon she came into her own and took charge until it got to a point where all the guild members started going to her for advice.

Rani Vidya Devi leaves behind a rich legacy of traditions and sustainable reforms. I had the opportunity to closely interact with her when she took over as the chairperson of MGD School in 2009. A role she fulfilled with remarkable ability and aplomb.

To step into the shoes of a towering personality like Rajmata Gayatri Devi was not easy, but she took on the role seamlessly. Ranisaheba though you are no longer with us, the glow of the light you carried will illuminate our path and be an inspiration for all at MGD for years to come, said Jane H Singh (Batch of 1955).

Well-known author and travel writer, Dharmendar Kanwar fondly remembers Rani Vidya Devi and said that with the passing away of Rani Vidya Devi, Jaipur has lost a wonderful human being who was special in so many ways.

She was grounded, warm and friendly. I never saw her lose her temper or raise her voice at anyone. As Chairperson of the Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh Benevolent Trust, she handled tricky situations with great elan and managed to keep the Trust’s objectives above all else.

She shared a very special bond with Late Rajmata Gayatri Devi who depended on her and was very happy to hand over charge of running her schools to Rani Vidya Devi.

Professor of English, Delhi University, Dr Prof. Malashri Lal said “Rani Vidya Devi was known to me for over fifteen years and I first met her when introduced by Her Highness Maharani Gayatri Devi at a school function.

I graduated from MGD in 1963, with a gold medal award, and remained in touch with Jaipur’s royal family through discussions on education since my career spanned as a Professor at the University of Delhi. Remembrances of Rani Vidya evoke images of grace and dignity.

As an educationist, she was a visionary and brought to MGD the rigour of a curriculum that was academically sound but also culturally grounded.”

 Dr Prof. Malashri Lal further added, “She was drawn to noble causes and leaves a legacy of graceful education and social care. She recently ensured MGD’s library renovation in memory of Miss Lutter and Mala Mathur and had plans for the school’s platinum jubilee.

We the alumnus will miss her as we move along the luminous path she has created. Over the last few years, I have had a chance to interact with Rani Vidya once again as part of the Alumni Association of the School.

One realised that Rani Vidya could be very assertive when required. She handled the issues at SMS with grace, not a small feat considering the pressures of parents, teachers, staff and alumni.”

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