The prestigious Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) is now in its 60th (diamond jubilee) year of its existence in this hill station. On September 1 this year, it will complete 60 years in Mussoorie.
On April 15, 1958, the then Home Minister announced in the Lok Sabha a proposal to set up a National Academy of Administration where training would be given to all the recruits of the Civil Services. The Ministry of Home Affairs decided to amalgamate the IAS Training School, Delhi and the IAS Staff College, Shimla to form a National Academy of Administration at Mussoorie. The Academy was set up in 1959 and was called the ‘National Academy of Administration’. Its status was that of an ‘attached office’ of the Government of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs. In October 1972, its name was changed to “Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Administration” and in July 1973, the word “National” was added and the Academy is now known as the “Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration”
It was on September 1, 1959 that the academy was established in Charleville, the first hotel to have been built in this hill station, around 1870. Over the years, many new buildings have been added to the old ones of the hotel. The academy was shifted from Metcalfe House to Charleville acquired by the government.
September 1959 was indeed a very special time for Mussoorie, especially for the picturesque Happy Valley just a few kilometres away from the busy Library Point (Gandhi Chowk). The Tibetan government in exile was just settling down in Happy Valley. The young Dalai Lama with his followers had arrived in the summer. As for LBSNAA, its address of Charleville, at the Happy Valley end of The Mall Road holds a strong sense of history going back to the mid-nineteenth century. Charleville was a grand landmark of Mussoorie and has been mentioned in several old accounts of foreign travelers to the Queen of Hills.
The main building of the hotel was built by General Wilkinson in 1854 on the Chajauli Estate. In 1861, the property was purchased by Hobson, a retired manager of Mussoorie Bank who started the hotel.
In March 1905, the Princess of Wales (later Queen Mary) visited Dehra Dun and Mussoorie. In Mussoorie, she stayed at the Charleville Hotel, the only hotel in India to be so honoured.
In the year 1984, the main block of the academy was gutted in a fire, destroying the historic building of Charleville. Some historic records were also destroyed in this fire. A former probationer, who is now a senior officer , says “We had great times in the lounge of the old Charleville building. It had a small balcony outside from where you could see the valleys beyond with the view of a temple on top of a hill. Below the lounge was a lovely old library. It had a nice place for sitting and reading with a lovely view on the other side”.
The most fascinating story linked to the Charleville Hotel is that of famous author and poet Rudyard Kipling’s stay at this hotel in the summer of 1888, when he was twenty three years old. Among Kipling’s unpublished papers in the Library of Congress, there exists an album of photos which has two pictures of Charleville Hotel. One was a photo of the hotel’s office. Kipling had written, “And there were men with a thousand wants/And women with babes galore /But the dear little angels in Heaven know/That Wuzzler never swore”. Wuzzler was the patient, long-suffering manager of Charleville.
The academy in the Happy Valley area is a place worth seeing. Its campus is picturesque and the entire ambience has a sense of history as well as grace. The LBSNAA has lent dignity and prestige, over the past six decades, to the beautiful hill town of Mussoorie . This Academy stands for values envisioned by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and further amplified by Lal Bahadur Shastri. Long before our independence, and at the height of the colonial administration, the British PM David Lloyd George, had compared the civil services to the steel frame.
After independence, with the ushering in of democracy, new challenges came up, and the services moulded themselves to serve the best interests of the people and the country. The civil services largely have been able to live up to the high standards.
This Academy is the first stop for all Civil Servants entering the portals of Government after their selection by the UPSC. The academy takes up the responsibility of laying the foundation of their career and shaping up attitudes. Numerous innovations designed by the alumni of this Academy have earned the admiration of the common man. Their contributions have been recognised on the Civil Service Day.
One can safely say that almost all of the improvements in various State Governments, departments and Central Government are authored by officers who pass out of these environs, irrespective of the service they belong to.
Thursday, 07 March 2019 | Jaskiran Chopra | Mussoorie