Intro To The School

Children's Day at RLVM


Life is full of unexpected turns and 2019 was certainly an unexpected year for me! Just over a year ago on January 25th, 2019, I parted from CA Technologies — where I had been for 23 years — following the Broadcom acquisition. Since then, many friends and colleagues have been wondering what I have been doing as there really has been little news from me. They, like me, were all expecting me to be joining some tech company very soon. Well, my life has taken an unexpected and surprising turn for the short-term!

On January 25th, I also got on a plane and left for Italy and India. Italy was to meet my younger son, who was doing a work-term in Milan. This initial India trip became the first of what would be five expeditions; spending almost six months over the last year, in India.

The surprise is that I am now a running a school in India!

Late Rajendra Kumar Lohia
Rajendra Lohia

School Founding and History

It’s a long story, so please bear with me on the background which goes right back to my childhood. My father, Rajendra Kumar Lohia, passed away in 1973 at the young age of 37 (I was 8 years old). It was a tragedy for the entire family, and it instigated my move to Canada with my mother and younger brother. We lived in a town in India called Hathras (near Delhi). My father was very keen on education and was one of the town leaders responsible for bringing better schools into Hathras. After my father’s passing, my grandparents wanted to build a school in his memory and to establish a legacy for the family.

A non-profit society was formed to carry out my grandparents wishes, and the school, Rajendra Lohia Vidya Mandir[1] (RLVM), opened in a re-purposed residence in 1994. My brother and I had inherited land from my grandfather, and we lent[2] it to the school society to build a permanent school. Finally, in 1997, with the help of my uncle, aunt, many other family members, and community leaders in Hathras, a brand-new building was built specifically for the school.

Establishing the school on its own land was a remarkable achievement and I am sure it brought some peace to my grandparents. The school flourished for many years. It grew from just the primary grades to cover pre-K through 12. Over time, an additional floor and wing were added to the building, and at its peak enrollment was over 3000 students.

My uncle and aunt, who continued to live in Hathras, managed the school and much credit goes to them for the school’s growth and success. But, sadly, about eight years ago, things started to take a turn for the worse. The causes of the decline were a combination of things:

  • My uncle’s failing health and eventual passing in 2014,
  • Personal financial pressures on my uncle and his two sons (my cousins)[3]
  • Competition from other “English Medium[4]” schools opening in Hathras

While they lacked basic management and leadership skills, my cousins took over running the school from my uncle after his health did not allow him to continue. These cousins had enjoyed a decadent lifestyle supported by both property they had inherited and by the income from the school. Since they had sold off all their property and spent all the money, that cashflow had run out. Their personal financial pressures changed what they wanted from the school, and their motivations were not for the school’s well-being.

The school became badly neglected and fell into serious financial distress.

Now, even though I had not been involved in the school’s management, I had some idea that the school was having challenges. When I went to visit the family in Hathras in February 2019, the dire physical and financial condition of the school became apparent to me. The student enrollment had dropped from 3000 to less than 1350, the school building was in disrepair (see pictures), and salaries and bills were not being paid on time. The school was essentially bankrupt, and more seriously was facing tax related fines and possible criminal charges for the Board.  There was little trust and respect for the management. Many teachers and staff highlighted the issues to me and openly asked for help. They were committed to the school’s success but needed management to take greater responsibility and action.

New Leadership & Turnaround

After that February 2019 trip, I started putting together a plan with the extended Lohia family on what we can and should do to help. This resulted in my additional trips to India. Essentially, my next trip (April to May 2019) was to learn more about the state of the school, and to persuade my cousins to resign in order to make way for a new management team in the best interests of the school. The education of almost 1350 kids and the livelihood of 120 staff were at stake.

It was an ordeal to get my cousins to step down from the committee, as the school had been part of their lives for 25 years. But, no one trusted them, and they had to step-aside before anyone would offer to help turn the school around. On the final day of my trip in May, my cousins finally agreed to resign, we formed a new committee, and I became the manager of the school!

I also partnered with a local community leader, to be the Acting Manager when I am not in India. My partner has also been a friend of the Lohia family for many years and is well connected in the community. His local knowledge and relationships will be very useful in running the school effectively.

Under the new management team, improvements to the school – both to the facilities and finances – are now underway. To ensure the school was solvent, my partner and I have had to inject some of our personal funds into it.  But we do believe, that if managed properly, the school will be self-sustaining financially.

We have stopped the misappropriation and mismanagement of funds by removing my cousins from the school completely. As student enrollment returns to above 1500, and the school’s payables and outstanding debts are dealt with, the school will once again retain a strong financial position.

Facility improvements are underway. Most notably, we have added a reverse osmosis (RO) water plant for clean drinking water, improved security facilities, fixed lighting and fans, and are proceeding with improvements to all the science and computer labs. The school lacked management processes, so we have started to establish those (more of this in a future article) to help improve school operations, financial controls, and academic quality.

The improvements will take time, as years of neglect and damaging leadership caused deep problems. Fortunately, things are on the right track and I am very hopeful for the school’s future. This effort has been a real learning experience, and it has also allowed me to apply many of my management and leadership skills. Shortly, I will write on those lessons as well as plans and progress with the school. Stay tuned.

In Closing

For now, let me end with why I got involved and took on this effort. I am not doing this as my next career (soon I do need to do something for my career also 😊). This is a philanthropic effort with a strong personal connection. I felt the need to:

  • Preserve my grandparents wishes and the family legacy the school embodies
  • “Right the wrong” of my cousins and not abandon the teachers, staff, students, and the local community.
  • The separation from CA/Broadcom, freed me just in time to help with the school. I could not ignore the timing and how “universal intent” had created this scenario and dropped it in my lap

Occasionally, life asks you to put everything aside to do something important. This was one of those times, and I knew I needed to step-up and take on the role and take responsibility for the school. There was no one else who could have, and being the eldest son, I was the right person to do so — and I am happy to do so.

[1] Vidya Mandir’s literal translation from Hindi to English is “knowledge temple” and is a formal term for a school

[2] The land is technically on a near free, long-term lease to the school society.

[3] I realize I am exposing family problems and issues and some reviewers of this article suggested, I not do that. But those are the core issues the school had. Furthermore, everyone has family issues, and I did want to cover them up or neglect to mention them. If my cousins had continued to manage the school well, I would never have needed to be involved. Still, I am sparing you from some of the grisly details, but you are free to read between the lines.

[4] “English Medium” implies that the primary language the subjects are taught in is English i.e. versus Hindi.

Blog Comments

Amazing work, Kapil. What a great addition to your CV, managing a school and making it financially viable. Wish you continued success in this venture.

Congratulations Kapil, to your resilience and your integrity both as a person and a leader.

Kapil Bhaiya, so proud of you! An amazing feat that you’ve been able to accomplish with sheer perseverance.

Amazing effort Kapil. It was a real challenge and you have succeeded in this, because of your uber calm nature and composure! And of course the hard work !
You must add some ‘before and after’ images of the school which shows your efforts in updating the infrastructure.
Congratulations and best wishes !!

Roohshan Divecha

Much respect, Kapil. This couldn’t have been easy – any of it, and on so many levels – but then; doing the right thing rarely is… A very powerful narrative, and an impressive achievement.

This a wonderful generous gift you are giving to the families of Hathras. God bless you and the school

Well done Kapil!

Elizabeth Sequeira

What an amazing story! What is so fascinating is that you have revived the legacy that will now impact so many future lives. Education is so critical, but so often people don’t realize that not everyone has the same opportunities. I wish you so much success and happiness!

Kapil. First off – I read it! 😊. Secondly. I have a great amount of admiration for challenging the traditional family dynamic we all know too well to ensure the success of the greater good. You have really set yourself on a path that is envious – the needs of other before yours. Congratulations on the first phase of many.

best wishes and continued success to the school, you will reap the benefits by the joy and accomplishments of the school’s students!

Partha Pratim Mallik

Inspiring work Kapil. Glad to know a person like you

Very inspiring. Please keep up the good work!


What a great addition to your legacy. It will creat a generational impact.

As a member of The John Maxwell Team I am encouraged to provide free leadership and communication training to K-12 institutions. This occurs 2x per year. We have given at least one hour of training to over 800,000 children world wide dice we launched the program in 2016.

We can zoom or Skype if you have and interest. Look up Global Youth Initiative from the John Maxwell Team. There is a link on my www. web site.

Wow Kapil – this is so awesome. Kuddos to you for getting involved in this and steering it in the right direction – that direction that came from inside you and what you thought was the right path forward. You are truly an inspiration!! Keep in touch.

Great work Kapil and a truly inspiring one!!! I loved the standup concept . Good luck for the future efforts

Saikumar Pollachi

Awesome! Quite inspiring Kapil. I love what you did. Sure it would have been a lot of effort to undo, redo and lay the foundations for a successful journey. My hearty wishes for the School to grow and sure it may become your pet project 🙂

Kapil the school’s turnaround has been a great achievement on your end. I know first hand how hard you have had to work for this and I am glad all your efforts have paid off. Coming from New York to a small town like Hathras would have been a huge transition but you managed to held up your own and I am proud to say that you came on top. I am confident that in time you and your colleagues will be able to get this institution back to the top to its rightful place. I wish you the very best in your future endeavours.

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