Neha Patil (Editor)

Modern School (New Delhi)

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Type  Independent School
President  Ashok Pratap Singh
Gender  Co-educational
Founded  20 October 1920
Faculty  130
Founder  Lala Raghubir Singh
Principal  Dr Vijay Datta
Phone  011 2331 1619
Pupil  2,400
Modern School (New Delhi)
Motto  Self Realization cannot be achieved by the Weak Willed
Address  Barakhamba Road, New Delhi, Delhi 110001
Sister schools  Raghubir Singh Junior Modern School, Humayun Road, Modern School Vasant Vihar

Modern School, Barakhamba Road (informally Modern) is a co-educational, independent day and boarding school in New Delhi, India. It was founded in 1920 by Lala Raghubir Singh, a prominent Delhi-based philanthropist, in Daryaganj. He envisioned a school that would combine the "best of ancient Indian tradition with the needs of the times." The school's first principal, Mrs. Kamala Bose, a Bengali Christian, was a vigorous advocate of educational reform in India and her founding vision coupled with Lala Raghubir Singh's nationalist leanings gave birth to a school destined to be rated among the best in India: it was more Indian than the imitation public schools set up by the British for the sons of aristocracy, and more liberal than other educational institutions. The present principal is Dr. Vijay Datta, who has occupied the post since 2014 and is the ninth principal of the school.


The school fosters internationalism and is a founding member of the Community Development and Leadership Summit (CDLS). It also facilitates numerous international workshops and exchange programs. Modern houses roughly 2,400 pupils aged 12 to 18. Admission to the school is based on the number of vacancies in classes VI to IX and XI, as most students are admitted directly from Raghubir Singh Junior Modern School, Humayun Road, New Delhi. Modern School students take the Central Board of Secondary Education (C.B.S.E.) examination in classes tenth and twelfth.

Modern has consistently been ranked as one of the best schools in India and among the top five day-cum-boarding schools nationwide by media such as The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, and India Today. Its sister school, Modern School, Vasant Vihar, also ranks among Delhi's best schools in a similar ranking by Outlook. It is the first private and coeducational school established in Delhi during the British Raj. Modern has three sister schools: Modern School, Vasant Vihar, and more recently, Modern School, Kundli and Modern School, Faridabad. Raghubir Singh Junior Modern School serves as the junior wing of Modern School, Barakhamba Road. Alumni of the school are commonly known as Modernites. Although, the total number of Modernites is relatively small, they include some of India's most prominent politicians, government officials, and business leaders.


Modern School was founded by Lala Raghubir Singh, an established and well to do resident of Delhi. He belonged to a Rajput family that had converted to Jainism and settled in Delhi. His father, Sultan Singh, was an accountant and banker (khazanchi) with the Imperial Bank of India, and was well-regarded by both the British rulers and the Indian princes. In fact, Sultan Singh bequeathed his sprawling mansion with extensive grounds in Daryaganj for the purpose of establishing Modern School.

Modern School was started in 1920 in a building located in Daryaganj, New Delhi. It was a mansion that belonged to Rai Bahadur Lala Sultan Singh. He donated it to the school to fulfill his son's dream of establishing a school which would combine the traditions of Indian education with modern educational techniques. Sultan Singh was a prominent businessman in British India in the early 1880s. His son, Lala Raghubir Singh, was the brain behind founding of the school.

Founding Ethos

Lala Raghubir Singh was the spirit and the soul of the school. The primary founder, he worked for the improvement of the school and in this endeavour he teamed up with Sardar Sobha Singh. Sardar Sobha Singh was the co-founder of the school. A builder during the height of the Raj, he was involved in the construction of buildings in Delhi like Connaught Place, National Museum, Modern School, South Block and India Gate. His own two sons, Bhagwant Singh and Khushwant Singh (the noted writer) were amongst the first students of Modern School.


The first principal of Modern School was Mrs. Kamala Bose, a Bengali Christian, who travelled from Calcutta to accept the position.

Modern School's most respected principal and mentor to a generation of students was Mr. M.N. Kapur.

A Dream Turns Seventy five

The school is headed by a Board of Trustees, who appoint the Principal (Barakhamba Road and Vasant Vihar) and the Head Master (Humayun Road). It has 15 houses in the Barakhamba branch and eight houses in the Vasant Vihar branch, each headed by a housemaster.

It has a 27-acre (110,000 m2) campus on Barakhamba Road, near Connaught Place.

In 1932 there were about 125 students.

In 1932, the school moved to a building in New Delhi built by Sir Sobha Singh.

The words of Rabindranath Tagore are embodied in the philosophy of the founding fathers of Modern School. The Modern School was started in 1920 in Daryaganj.

The school motto is "Nyaymatma Balheenien Labhya" (in Sanskrit) meaning "Perfection Cannot be Achieved by the Weak"

The Crest

Designed by Sarada Ukil, an artist of great repute, and a teacher at Modern School in the 1920s, the school crest signifies the circle of eternity crossed by the three elements in human development: body, mind and spirit, as the sun shines between the triangle and the circle. Inside the triangle, there is a banyan tree to represent stability and firmness of character, the swan and the lotus represent refinement, culture and the arts which are fundamental elements of progress in life. The school slogan is Naimatma Balheenien Labhya, a Sanskrit quotation which when translated into English means "Self-realization cannot be achieved by the weak." Besides the school motto, there are four words: truthfulness, unselfishness, frankness and self-control, which guide each child in their daily life.


The school occupies a single campus covering approximately twenty-five acres and is flanked by Maharaja Ranjit Singh Marg and Barakhamba Road in the heart of New Delhi. To house the school at its present location, Lala Raghubir Singh made an application with the government for a suitable site on 28 April 1921. In response to the application, the government allocated fifty acres of land in the Delhi Cantonment for the purposes of the school. Due to its location in Old Delhi, the Cantonment was deemed far from the centre of the new city (at the time being constructed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker). Thus, after a second round of negotiations a twenty-five acre site was allotted in 1930 (the lease being finalized the same year on August 4) to provide accommodation for 200 resident boys with staff quarters and ample play-fields.

The Main Building was designed by C.G. and F.B. Blomfield, architects on the team designing the imperial capital of New Delhi. The white and red aesthetic of the Edwardian Classical building at Modern School resembles many Delhi structures of the period, such as Convent of Jesus and Mary, St. Columba's School, Sacred Heart Cathedral (designed by Henry Medd), Flagstaff House (now Teen Murti Bhavan), and Lady Irwin School. It is now classified as a heritage structure and is an excellent example of British colonial architecture in New Delhi.

Apart from the Main Building the campus includes the following: Sir Sobha Singh Block (informally S.S. Block), named after one of the co-founders of the school and accommodating classes nine and ten; the Platinum Jubilee Block (informally P.J.B.), built to commemorate the school's seventy-fifth anniversary and home to classes eleven and twelve; the Baradari and Main Garden, which houses a fighter jet donated by an ex-Modernite; the Sir Shankar Lal Auditorium; the M.N. Kapur Hall (named after the second principal of the school) ; the Technology Block, which houses the Art Room, Sculpture, Pottery, and Wood Working Studios, the Drama Room, the Aero-modelling and Electronics Room, and the Home Economics Laboratory; the Principal's Bungalow; the Boys' Boarding House & Mess; Staff & Warden's Apartments; the Sanitarium; and the locus of all student activity, the Banyan Tree (informally B.T.). Entry and exit to the campus is strictly regulated through four gates, two of which are reserved for school buses, one for students, and the last one for staff.

School Boarding: Golden Jubilee Hostel

Modern School has a boarding house capable of housing 90 pupils. The boarding is single-gendered, and hence, boys only. The current In-charge of Cattle Care is Lt. Col. (Retd.) Rajesh Menon. The boarding house is equipped with study rooms, a library, a gymnasium, a TV room, and a sanatorium.


Modern follows the house system. The school has fifteen houses, these are: Akbar, Ashoka, Azad, Gandhi, Lajpat, Laxmibai, Nehru, Patel, Pratap, Ranjit, Shastri, Shivaji, Subhash, Tagore, and Tilak. In keeping with founding ethos of the school and its nationalist leanings the houses honour significant figures in the history of India. Each house is assigned a Senior (classes nine to twelve) and Junior (classes six to eight) Housemaster.


Sports are an integral part of the school curriculum. The school has two large playing grounds, the Main Ground and the Cricket Field. Hockey, cricket, athletics, basketball, and association football are played throughout the school year. Tennis, table tennis, badminton, squash, and swimming are also available. Sport is dominated by basketball, hockey, cricket, and association football, in which the schools competes nationally, at the state-level, and in inter-school and inter-house competitions. Sports facilities include an Olympic-size swimming pool, six clay tennis courts, three squash courts, two outdoor basketball courts +one indoor, facilities for indoor badminton and table tennis, two cricket pitches, two fields for hockey and football (which can be converted to cricket pitches to accommodate seasonal sports), and an athletic track. The football team is sponsored by Nike and the swimming and table tennis team by Reebok. There is a golf academy by Taylor Made and also a tennis academy.

Clubs and Societies

Extracurricular activities are a compulsory element of school life at Modern. The school magazine, Sandesh, is published each school term in English and Hindi (its sister publications include the Vasant Prayag at Modern School, Vasant Vihar, and Prayas at Modern School, Kundli). There are around twenty clubs and societies, including aero-modelling, drama, painting, sculpture, community service, carpentry, music, senior and junior English debating societies, economics, astronomy, computer science, physics, and robotics. In many societies pupils come together to discuss a particular topic, presided over by a faculty member and often including a guest speaker. The school has often invited prominent figures to give speeches and talks to the students; these have included heads of state, politicians, ornithologists, naturalists, artists, writers, economists, diplomats, and industrialists. The Modern School Leadership lecture series invites prominent alumni to address the school assembly twice every school year. Major clubs include Model UN Society, Environment Club, Bits 'N' Bytes (computer science), Debating Society, Interact Club, SPIC MACAY, and the SAPTAK.

Modern School is also a leading member of the Model United Nations and its annual ModMUN conference is one of the biggest in Asia attracting as many as 900 international students for the 2016 conference. Due to its size, prestige, and popularity, it is considered the largest student organized MUN in India. Bits 'N' Bytes is one of the oldest school societies dating back to 1988. It organizes ACCESS, an annual tech symposium, in the month of December. In 2013, the society won the TCS IT Wiz and simultaneously celebrated its Silver Jubilee. The Debating Society is very active during the school year, as it hosts the Raghubir Singh Inter-school Debate, the Pratap Singh Inter-school Debate, and usually helps organize the Annual MSOSA Inter-school Debate. Interact Club ( affiliate club of Rotary International's service club for students between the age of 12-18 ) was inaugurated in 1983 by the then Vice-President of India, Muhammad Hidayat Ullah, and has since grown into a prominent school society. Its activities include donations to orphanages, recycling drives, ant-piracy drives, and an annual blood donation camp. The club has been awarded a certificate in recognition of its services to the community by Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dixit. Interact Club occasionally nominates some of its students to be selected by Rotary International for its international program to represent India as Ambassador of Goodwill to neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka.The selected students stay as guests with families who participate in this international youth exchange program. SPIC MACAY, a national society for the promotion of Indian classical music and culture amongst youth, organizes a SPIC MACAY week every school term. Past performers include Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Sonal Mansingh, Sitara Devi, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Hari Prasad Chaurasia, and Birju Maharaj. Other events organized include Cyclotron (the annual inter-school physics symposium) and Unquestionably Modern (a annual Quiz competition).

Modern School MUN

Modern School revolutionised the concept of Model UN when the Model UN Society hosted its first conference in October 2011. Breaking all conventions, ModMUN 2011 which attracted over 100 international students from the world over, it went on to become not only the biggest MUN in Asia, but also one of great prestige. The following year ModMUN 2012 came back better than ever building on the success of ModMUN 2011, in 2013, ModMUN preceded their expectations achieving almost 900 students from around the globe. Modern School is also a leading member of the Model United Nations and its annual ModMUN conference is one of the biggest in Asia attracting as many as 1000 international students for the 2016 conference. Due to its size, prestige, and popularity, it is considered the largest student organized MUN in India.

Parallel to the successes of the conferences, the society which hosts it has also redefined the arena of Model UN. Since its inception, the Model UN Society of Modern School, Barakhamba road has gone on to make its presence felt in the most prestigious of conferences in the city, the country, and the world.

School Magazine

The Sandesh was compiled and edited by students of classes 11 & 12 under the expert guidance of Mrs. Malini Khatri. However, since the hostile takeover of Modern School on 7 July 2014 by Captain Haddock (DVD), things have changed. With arbitrary censorship undercutting creative and intellectual liberty, the magazine today functions as 'freely' as any publication did during the Emergency.

Theatre and Music

The school houses large venues for indoor productions, these are Sri Shankar Lal Auditorium, HLL (Hindustan Lever Limited) Auditorium, M.N. Kapur Hall (formerly the gymnasium). Amphitheatre near prestigious Banyan tree is used for common musical evenings, etc.

Traditions and Lore

Like any established institution, Modern School has its fair share of traditions. For instance, during his tenure, Principal M.N. Kapur insisted all students sit cross legged on darris during morning assembly, a tradition that continues to this day. Drawing upon the longstanding relationship between Modern School and St. Stephen's College, the Rudra Prize, established in 1928, honours S.K. Rudra, the first Indian principal of St. Stephen's College and one of the founding members of the school.

Ties with other schools

From its foundation in 1920, Modern School housed classes from Montessori to grade twelfth. This ended in 1961 when Raghubir Singh Junior Modern School was established on Humanyu Road, New Delhi, as the school's primary wing. In 1975, Modern School, Vasant Vihar was founded as the first sister school under the leadership of Mr. Ved Vyas, a well regarded Hindi teacher at Modern School, Barakhamba Road. Similarly, in 2014, another sister school was established in Kundli under the directorship of Mrs. Neelam Puri, a former junior headmistress at Modern School, Barakhamba Road. In its foundational years the school also shared a close relationship with St. Stephen's College, New Delhi, but changing demographics, differing class structures, and quotas and reservations have distilled this association.

Modern also has an exchange program with a number of overseas schools. As of September 2012, a small number of Modern School students were attending Brisbane Grammar School, Australia; Malay College, Malaysia; St. George's Girls' School, Malaysia; Clifton School, South Africa; and Peddie School, New Jersey, United States. Other schools include The Second High School Attached to Beijing Normal University and New Oriental School of Foreign Languages in China,  Liebigschule Gießen in Germany, Philippine Science High School in The Philippines, SMA Negari 4 Denser School in Indonesia, Chua Chu Kang Secondary School in Singapore, and Dominion High School in Virginia, United States. Since 2010, Modern has twinned with Chua Chu Kang Secondary School, Singapore under the Twinning Program. It is also a part of ISA, UKIERI, and the Australia India Collaboration. Modern also collaborates with The Collegiate School, Richmond, Virginia, in organizing the Community Development and Leadership Summit and the International Emerging Leaders Conference. It also organizes an annual Model United Nations Conference and participates in various MUNs globally. The Model United Nations conference organized by Modern is commonly known as ModMUN.

Schools with similar names

As private schools become more widespread in India, several other schools use "Modern" as part of their names, causing some confusion. Among them are Modern School, Lucknow (now Vidyatree Modern World College); Modern School, Nagpur; Doha Modern Indian School, Doha, Qatar; Modern Indian School, Kathmandu, Nepal; and Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata. None of them is related to The Modern School, Barakhamba Road.


The Modern School is a member of the following organizations: Indian Public Schools' Conference (IPSC), National Progressive Schools' Conference (NPSC), and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

Public image

Modern in Films, Television, and Theatre

  • In Shekhar Kapur's 1983 film Masoom, Rinky (Urmila Matondkar) and Minni (Aradhana Srivastav) are wearing Modern School uniforms in two scenes.
  • The radio station exteriors in the 2006 Bollywood film Rang De Basanti were shot at Modern School, Barakhamba Road.
  • Rajendra Theatre was used for Albert Brooks' stand-up performance sequence in the film Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.
  • In Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, the lead characters Kabir Thapar, played by Ranbir Kapoor, and Naina Talwar, played by Deepika Padukone, are scripted as Modernites. They talk about their school days at Modern School, Barakhamba Road during the first half of the film.
  • Modern in Literature

  • Khushwant Singh recounts his experiences being amongst the first batch of Modernites in his autobiography Truth, Love and a Little Malice. He also recollects many a school tale in Notes on the Great Indian Circus.
  • In Chetan Bhagat's, Half Girlfriend, the female protagonist, Riya Somani, is a Modernite.
  • Alumni

    Pupils of Modern School have gone on to achieve prominence in politics, government service, the armed forces of India, commerce, journalism, literature, academia, and the fine and performing arts. They include a Prime Minister, several Cabinet and Chief Ministers, numerous members of the Indian Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies, high-ranking military officials, of which include two Chiefs of Air Staff, and several ambassadors. The best-known alumnus is Indira Gandhi. In fact, Modern School has educated several members of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, children of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and India National Congress President Sonia Gandhi, attended Raghubir Singh Junior Modern School before enrolling in St. Columba's School (some sources also suggest Rahul Gandhi continued at his father's alma mater, The Doon School, Dehradun) and Convent of Jesus and Mary respectively. Similarly, cousin Varun Gandhi, son of Sanjay Gandhi and Maneka Anand Gandhi, completed his primary schooling here.

    Notable Modern School alumni have held senior positions in Indian politics, bureaucracy, and judiciary, these include Sanjay Kishen Kaul, former Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Mukul Rohtagi, former Attorney General of India, Neeraj Kishen Kaul, former Additional Solicitor General of India, Gopal Krishna Gandhi, Governor of West Bengal and Bihar, Vinod Dixit, IAS Officer and husband of former Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dixit, Sandeep Dixit, Member of Parliament, Kamlesh Sharma, Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and Amitabh Kant, Chairman of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project. In the defence services, Modern Alumni include S.K. Mehra and P.C. Lal, both former Air Chief Marshals of the Indian Air Force. In the field of journalism and literature, Modern boasts stalwart Khushwant Singh as an alumnus. Arun Shourie, former Cabinet Minister, Member of Rajya Sabha, and editor of the The Indian Express, and Barkha Dutt, Consulting Editor of NDTV, are also Modern alumni.

    Modern alumni have also made a mark in sports and entertainment. Golfers Daniel Chopra, Shiv Kapur, and Gaurav Ghei, cricketers Kirti Azad, Unmukt Chand, and Gautam Gambhir, tennis players Vishal Uppal and Karan Salwan, shooter Samresh Jung, and chess grandmaster Tania Sachdev are all ex-Modernites. In the arena of fine and performing arts Modern alumni include Yamini Reddy, Kuchipudi dancer, Abhay Sapori, Santoor maestro and music composer, Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Ayaan and Amaan Ali Khan, Sarod exponents and music composers, Geeta Kapur, art historian, art critic and daughter of former principal, Mr. M.N. Kapur, actors Amrita Singh, Abhishek Bachchan, Karan Soni, and Alok Nath, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, beauty pageant winner Ekta Choudhry, and reality television contestant and VJ, Siddhartha Bhardwaj.

    Naresh Trehan, surgeon and chairman of Vedanata, Noshir Minoo Shroff, eye surgeon, Aditi Shankardass, Neuroscientist, and Arvinder Singh Soin, liver transplant surgeon, represent Modern School alumni in the life and medical sciences. In business, Rajat Gupta, former Managing Director of McKinsey and Company and founder of the Indian School of Business, Gurcharan Das, CEO of Procter & Gamble, Varun Thapar, Director of KCT Coal, and Surinder Mehta, Founder of Prime Group and a Padma Shri awardee are Modern School alumni.


    Modern has benefitted from the service of the following academics in the past:

  • Sarada Ukil, artist, actor, and art teacher at Modern School, Barakhamba Road
  • Ramkinkar Baij, widely known as one of the pioneers of modern Indian sculpture taught at Modern school, Barakhamba Road
  • Sukumar Bose, noted artist following in the tradition of the Bengal School of Art, taught art at the school till 1947
  • Modern School Old Students' Association

    Modern School Old Students Association (informally MSOSA) works to bring together old Modernites. The association has more than 15000 members. MSOSA has engaged in cultural and sporting activities to raise funds for supporting philanthropic activities, contributing to national causes like Kargil war relief in 1999, Gujarat earthquake in 2001, and tsunami relief effort in 2004. The Modernites Trust was created in 1983 by MSOSA to support these charitable and philanthropic activities. The Trust supports a Scholarship Programme under which free education in Modern School is provided to meritorious and needy students from under-privileged sections of society. Since its inception, there have been over 60 beneficiaries. Eighteen students are currently studying in Modern School, Barakhamba Road, under this program.


    Modern School (New Delhi) Wikipedia