A couple of days ago an invite to join a group on Facebook was sent to me by a senior. We receive many such requests but don’t really look at them, I might have at least over a hundred waiting in my invites list. This immediately caught my attention as it had IHM in it. I am a graduate of IHM Mumbai 1997 batch and like most of the others I take pride in my alma mater. There is a camaraderie that connects all of us. We might have graduated from different campuses but the feeling of ‘oneness’ is filled in abundance in all of us. It also doesn’t matter which batch or passing out year it is; be it 1956 or 2019. The feeling remains undiluted. On receiving this invite I checked the page with it’s admin as Mr. Deepak Khera and Chef Sanjay Raina both alumni of IHM Pusa, New Delhi. I joined this incredible and nostalgic platform called the ‘IHMs India’. Introductions were being shared on the group, some even sharing photographs from their college days or the reunions they have had over the years. Every minute there were people joining from around the globe and the members went from a hundred to a thousand within the first couple of days; now already reaching three thousand and many waiting for admin approval. That’s the nostalgia that IHMmites have for their institutes.
After graduating from IHM Mumbai. I joined The Taj Group at the flagship property the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Mumbai. After about 4 years of working in hotel operations I followed my passion of teaching and training and I joined my alma mater as a faculty. I worked there for about 6 years; so I have seen and experienced an IHM not only as a student but also as a faculty member. Then I moved to my current job with the Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels at their learning centre the Apeejay Institute of Hospitality, in fact I am one of the pre-opening team members. My role now involves the best of both – hotel operations as well as academics.
At IHM Mumbai I used to be the Master of Ceremony for many events and I remember speaking about the history of IHM on those occasions. In fact it used to be touched upon at every event where we had outsiders and guests joining us. Sharing here that story from the IHM archives (with due credits).
The Background – The IHM Story
IHM’s across India have all branched out of the country’s first catering college famously called the ‘Dadar Catering’. It was the first of its kind in South East Asia and was founded in 1954 by the All India Women’s Central Food Council under the leadership of the Late Smt. Lilavati Munshi.
Smt. Munshi with a band of courageous women which included Smt. Homi J H Taleyarkhan and Smt. Leela N Jog under the name of All India Women’s Central Food Council established a chain of Annapoornas (restaurants) throughout the country. Though primarily in the metropolitan cities to prepare and sell economic but nutritionally balanced snacks and food. The purpose was to improve the nutritional intake of the average citizen from a high cereal diet to a more balanced one. The critical factor however was to find trained personnel to run these Annapoornas on a self-financing basis. This led to the birth of the training Institute –the Dadar Catering College which later became the Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Mumbai (IHM Mumbai).
Hotel Management and Catering Technology was still a young discipline in those days even in the West. In fact, the school of Hotel Administration of Cornell University bifurcated from the Department of Home Economics as a separate faculty only in 1954.
The Late Shri P C Rajpal deputed from Tea Board of India, became the first Principal of the Institute. Before taking up his role he was sent on a study tour of Europe and UK under the sponsorship of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Later at the request of Smt. Lilavati Munshi through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Department of food, the Late. Mr. Belfield Smith from UK was assigned as an expert to India by FAO. In March 1956, Mr. C. Belfield Smith took over as the Principal of the Institute. Mr. Smith was one of the founder members of Hotel Catering and Institutional Management Association, (HCIMA) UK.
There were only six students when classes commenced in 1954 at Bhavan’s College Campus, at Andheri in Mumbai. In 1958 the Three Year Diploma Programme in Hotel Management & Catering Technology was recognized by the Directorate of Technical Education, Maharashtra State. Keeping pace with the continuing growth, the Institute shifted to its own campus at Dadar built on the land leased by the State Government. Miss Thangam E. Philip took over as the principal, under her leadership the growth of the Institute was spectacular. The funds came from the State Government as well as the Central Government. In 1979 the Central Government took over the total financial responsibility of the Institute.
Being the parent Institute, IHM Mumbai became the pioneer of hospitality education in India, and other such Institutes started to spring up in other parts of the country. In 1963 three more Regional Institutes were established in New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. The first Food Craft Institute was opened at Kalamassery in Kerala. Later eight more Institutes and Food Craft Institutes were opened in eight states. Most Food Craft Institutes were upgraded in 1982-83 to IHMs. From just 5 students in 1954 to thousands graduating each year, IHMs have set a benchmark in hospitality education globally. Today there are many Institutes affiliated to the National Council for the Hotel Management & Catering Technology, New Delhi.
Since the demand for the course is high there are many private institutes that function equally well and deliver quality hospitality education in the country. The course curriculum has undergone revision over the years meeting the demands of the ever changing industry. In order to impart world class Hospitality Education and maintain global standards it is imperative to attain not just modern equipment and updated curriculum but also equally dedicated faculty members.
The page is buzzing with fond memories shared by the members. The hostel life, mess food and the secret corners in and around the institutes find a mention every now and then. I have visited about 5 campuses till now; with the pictures and videos of the many new campuses shared on the group it’s heartening to see how the institutes have evolved over the years. There’s a strong sense of belonging and gratitude among all. No matter where you travel around the globe, you’ll bump into someone who studied at an IHM; that’ll be the beginning of a great and meaningful connection. With over 55 years of giving the best hospitality graduates the IHM’s pride themselves over their valuable and disciplined alumni who have carved their own niches. Indians are known the world over for their hospitality and service attitude.
I was at the Cornell University in 2018 attending PDPs; it was such a pleasant surprise to meet a senior in my course there. Though he is now an American citizen and is working there. The moment he heard my introduction he turned behind to look at me and during the break, came upto me and spoke so fondly about our alma mater. We have kept in touch, the story is similar no matter where you go; it will always take you down the memory lane and revisit raw nostalgia called IHM. I am experiencing it while I am writing this blog. I felt the same when I did Ms. Thangam E Phillip’s story. Here’s the link if you haven’t read it yet: http://www.theiwh.com/ms-thangam-e-philip/
I also take pride in knowing people from the first batch that started in 1954 to the passing out students I meet during their campus placements each year during The Park Management Training program. If you have studied at an IHM, you must be a part of this group for unlimited cherished memories and moments of fun and camaraderie.
PS Pictures are taken from IHMs India, with due credits.