La Martiniere Calcutta

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La Martinière Calcutta
La Martiniere, Calcutta by Francis Frith.jpg
La Martiniere Calcutta in 1800 by Francis Frith
Labore et Constantia
By Labour and Constancy
11, Loudon Street (Boys)
14, Rawdon Street (Girls)

Kolkata, West Bengal 700 017
Type Private
Religious affiliation(s) Christian (Protestant)
Denomination Church of North India
Established 1 March 1836 (1836-03-01)
Founder Major General Claude Martin
Sister school La Martiniere Lucknow
La Martiniere Lyon
School board ICSE (year 10)
ISC (year 12)
Session April to March
Chairman The Rt. Rev. Ashoke Biswas (Bishop of Calcutta)
Principal John F. Rafi (Boys)
Rupkatha Sarkar (Girls)
Chaplain Rev. Nigel Pope
Age 2+ to 18+
Language English
Campus type Urban
Houses Hastings (Red), Charnock (Green), Martin (Blue), Macaulay (Yellow)
School colour(s) Black and Amber (Boys)
Dark and Light Blue (Girls)
Song "Hail! Hail! The name we own" by Frederick James Rowe
Nickname Martinians
National ranking 4 (Boys)
1 (Girls)
Yearbook The Chronicle (Boys)
Affiliation Church of North India
Benefactor Paul Chater

La Martinière Calcutta (informally known as LMC) comprises two single-sex private schools in Calcutta, India. The school is one of the oldest in India, having been established in 1836 in accordance with the will of the French soldier of fortune and philanthropist, Major General Claude Martin. They are both Christian schools, controlled by the Protestant Church of North India and independent from the Government. While classified as day schools, both have a small number of boarders as well. Historically, the schools were exclusively for the Europeans and prominent Bengali Christians of the city. However, following a Calcutta High Court order, they started to admit students from all backgrounds in 1936. The schools offer an English-medium education from nursery up to the higher secondary level. They are affiliated to the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination which conducts the ICSE and ISC examinations at the close of Classes X and XII respectively.

As per Forbes , La Martiniere for Boys is one of India's 5 toughest schools to get into.[1]

La Martiniere Calcutta is consistently ranked as one of the best schools in India, with La Martiniere for Girls being ranked 1st, and La Martiniere for Boys being ranked 4th in the country by India Today's Education World magazine as of 2015.[2][3]



Claude Martin was born on 4 January 1735 in Lyon, France. He came to India when he was 17 to serve in the French East India Company. After French influence declined in India and, following a spell in British custody after a military defeat, he accepted a commission in the British East India Company's army and rose to the rank of Major-General. After taking up residence in Lucknow, India, he again switched allegiance and occupied an important position in the court of Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula and later his son, Asaf-ud-Daula.

During this period he is estimated to have accumulated a fortune of about 400,000 rupees. He built the palace of 'Constantia' and his house named Farhat Baksh, both of which he equipped with luxuries that included a library of some 4,000 volumes written in many languages and a picture gallery.

He died in Lucknow on 13 September 1800. According to his will, he was buried in the vault prepared for his remains in the basement of Constantia. The major portion of his monies and estate were left for founding three institutions, one each in Lucknow, which now occupies Constantia, and Calcutta and his birthplace Lyon.

It took 30 years to dispose of the litigation arising out of Claude Martin's will. Finally, as the result of a court decision, the La Martinière Schools opened in Calcutta on 1 March 1836.

The Benefactor[edit]

Sir Catchick Paul Chater (8 September 1846 – 27 May 1926), was a prominent businessman of Armenian descent. Sir Paul was born Khachik Pogose Astwachatoor in Calcutta, one of thirteen children of Armenian parents Miriam and Chater Paul Chater. His father was a member of the Indian Civil Service. Sir Paul was orphaned at the age of seven, and he gained entry into the La Martiniere College in Calcutta on a scholarship as a Foundationer. He later became a benefactor of the school when, in the early 1910s, he donated eleven lakhs Rupees to the desperately struggling school, thus allowing it to avoid certain closure. To honour his contribution to the school, Sir Paul Chater's name was included in the school prayer. (Scroll down to see the prayer)

The School[edit]

Student body[edit]

It took 30+ years to execute the Founder's will. In contrast to the Founder's intentions, British colonial administrators ensured that La Martinière catered to the education of European and Anglo-Indian students. The curriculum reflected the student composition with boys expected to master Latin and Greek, and the school was an early example of "Macaulay"-ite education in India. Most students were self-identified as 'British' or 'European', and did not remain in India after leaving school. Early Principals were generally from British public schools and tried to replicate the prevailing Rugby/ Arnold model of education with an emphasis on sports, espirit de corps and Christian morality.

Following a Calcutta High Court order (dated 18 February 1935) religious and ethnic restrictions on the admission of non-European, non-Christian, fee-paying students were removed and the school was allowed to admit such students up to a maximum of 25% of the strength of the school.

In the years after Independence, the school started attracting members of the social and business elite of Calcutta.

The student body has grown exponentially in size through the years, with approximately 3,000 students on the rolls in 2011 (compared with 750 in 1960 and 1,200 in 1980) with each class now comprising five sections (named A, A1, Alpha, Alpha1 and Alpha2) of approximately 50 boys each. The school also takes in new students at the "+2" level. Although parents and Old Boys question the quality of the LMB experience with the increased class sizes, the schools continue to be a popular choice for parents to which to admit their children.

Although admissions are competitive, preference is given to children of Old Martinians. Under the terms of the Founder's will, a certain number of Foundation scholarships (covering the costs of school fees and full board) are awarded to Anglo-Indian boarders.

The girls' school has 3 sections per class (A, B and C). Each section comprises 35–40 girls. In 11 and 12 there are four sections each- 1 for humanities, 2 for commerce and 1 for science. Each of these sections comprise 25–40 girls (ranging in class size based on the subject)


The schools are located in south Calcutta, with the Boys' School having its main gate in Loudon Street and the Girls' School having its main gate in Rawdon Street. They face each other across Rawdon Street.

The main Boys' School building is in the centre of the campus, and was completed in 1836 and is notable for its European Classical architecture, with the Round Chapel, ringed by imposing Corinthian pillars, at the heart of it. The Round Chapel has the Honours Boards listing Founders Day medalists on its walls. Above the Round Chapel is the beautiful library. The boarders dormitories are on the top floor. Classrooms are spread through the main building. The building was ruined by a cyclonic storm in June 1897 which destroyed a "stately Gothic porch" on the south side of the building and a blue dome "that rivalled the dome of the Calcutta General Post Office". The school chapel was in the dome. Lack of funds made it impossible to rebuild both these features. The building was modified in 1915 with the addition of a western wing (which now houses the Principal's office on the first floor).

The new junior school buildings are on the North Side of the campus. A basketball court and a memorial bust of the founder, Major General Claude Martin, are also located in the north side. The old junior school building, previously known as the technical block, and swimming pool are located to the west alongside Loudon Street, Atmodya Bhavan (built in 1979 and comprising the main auditorium and middle school classrooms) to the South and the Constantia building (not owned by the school, but controversially built on school property on the "dhobi ghat") to the East.

The Lower Circular Road end of the playing field was planted with seven Ashoka trees, known informally as the "seven sisters". These were uprooted to make way for Atmodya Bhavan. The sale of the "dhobi ghat", in 1982, was the subject of a long-drawn lawsuit, which went all the way to the Supreme Court in New Delhi, with the Old Martinians Association suing the Trustees of the school for illegally selling school property. While the school benefitted financially from this transaction, the sale of the property and construction of the ugly Constantia building defaced the campus, and lead to the complete loss of grass on the playground. The court case soured relations between the Old Boys and the school Governors for a number of years.

The boys' school used to have a very strong campus feel, with the Principal, House Masters and senior teachers living on campus. This added to the ethos of the school as the masters in residence supervised after-school, extra-curricular activity. However, in a controversial decision, the Governors of the school decided to no longer accommodate the senior teachers on campus, and now only the Principal has his quarters on campus.

There were five identical houses (known as "Panchkothi") along the north side of the campus. These were used as residences for the Principal, Vice Principal, House Masters and other teachers. Controversially, some of these old buildings have now been demolished in order to make way for new buildings. However, the Principal's residence still stands as originally constructed.

School life[edit]

The schools follow the ICSE Board of education rather than the West Bengal State board. The medium of instruction is English, with Hindi and Bengali offered as second languages. There are two external examinations – at Class X level (ICSE) and Class XII (ISC). In all other years, students take internal examinations only.

Extra-curricular activities include debating, elocution and quizzing, and sports like football, swimming, cricket, hockey, athletics, basketball, boxing, rugby,and table tennis. There is also a Western-music orchestra and a pipes-and-drums band.

Teams representing the school compete with La Martinière Lucknow in the annual Inter-Martinière meet (held alternately in Calcutta and Lucknow) in football, swimming and debating for the boys and basketball, swimming and debating for the girls. The football and basketball matches are highly anticipated events, and are well-attended by Old Martinians, students and parents.

The La Martinière for Boys' sports teams participate in the local Calcutta school leagues. The senior football team has won the Keventer Cup, having defeated most of the other football playing schools in the city, and are champions for 2 of the past 3 years (2012, 2014). The school basketball team is one of the best in the country being the East Zone Champions. Athletics and boxing are primarily inter-house activities. The inter-house athletics and boxing finals receive a lot of attention, with the athletics events preceded by a military-style marchpast and Olympic-style oath-taking ceremony. T

Clubs include the Hindi Club, known as 'Jyotsna' in the Boys' school and 'Drishti' in the Girls' school; the Interact Club; the Quiz Club; the Expressions club; the Computer Club; the Nature Club; the Dramatics Club; and the Heritage Club. Other organizations are the Library Squad, the School Beautification Squad, DEAS and the NCC (Air and Army Wing). The Quiz Club, Debate Circle and Science Club in the girls school are also very active and members of said clubs periodically represent the school in inter-school events and competitions.

An annual yearbook, titled "The Chronicle", is published by the boys school. The annual yearbook or "school magazine" for the girls school is put together by an editorial board composed of students from class XI supervised by teachers. The name for the magazine changes annually as it is chosen by the editorial board of the given year.

School houses[edit]

Even though most of them are day scholars, all students are allocated to one of four houses when they join the school (or reach class three in the girls school). The houses are still named after British imperial heroes, reflecting the fact that, at its founding, the school was a British school for the British in India. Similarly, teachers are also allocated to houses, with senior teachers being designated as House Masters and House Mistresses. Inter-house competitions, particularly in debating, athletics, boxing (for the boys), swimming, quizzing and elocution are fiercely contested, with the winning house in each year being designated the Cock House.

Charnock Hastings Macaulay Martin
Warren Hastings greyscale.jpg Macaulay.jpg Claudemartin-engraving.jpg
Founder of Calcutta Governor General British Politician School founder

School calendar[edit]

The school calendar contains certain key dates: Founders Day in September, Prize Day at the start of the academic year in June (prizes awarded for excellence in the previous academic year), and the Inter-Martinière Meet in August. Founders Day is a significant event which many alumni attend. The Chief Guest is usually an Old Martinian. Originally, and in line with the Founder's will, two medals were awarded on Founder's Day — the Gold Medal for academic excellence and the Silver Medal for Good Conduct. In 1960, the decision was taken to add two more medals: Principal's Medals for Best Sportsman and Best All-Rounder in Studies, Games and Conduct. The Good Conduct Medal (GCM) is generally considered the most prestigious award in the school, with an unbroken history dating back to the school's founding in 1836. The medalists have their names recorded on the Honours Boards in the Round Chapel. The girls receive the same medals, with two medals being awarded for excellence in ICSE and ISC. The medalists have their names recorded on the walls of the library.

La Martinière coat of arms[edit]

The La Martinière coat of arms was designed by the founder Claude Martin.[4] It is supported by seven flags, each bearing the design of a fish, the emblem of Oudh.[5] The devices on the escutcheon appear to epitomise Claude Martin's life. The ship recalls his voyage to India where he established his fortune. The lion with the pennant represents his career as an officer in the East India Company and with the Nawab of Oudh The setting sun behind the castellated building to the right of the shield has been said[4] to point to the sunset of his days and the large part which the building of "Constantia" played in his later years. The coat of arms and the accompanying motto Labore et Constantia are now shared by all the schools founded by Martin.

The La Martinière College flag consists of the coat of arms on a blue and gold background. The flag is generally flown above the buildings, and used for formal events and celebrations, such as the annual Founder's Day. This was designed by Major General Claude Martin himself.

School song[edit]

The school song, "Hail, hail, the name we own" was composed by Frederick James Rowe, who was an Assistant Master in LMC from 1868–1870. It is sung at special events such as Founder's Day, Prize Day and at inter-house events and the beginning and end of term.



Hail! Hail! the name we own,
   Hail! to the giver;
   Blessing and bright renown,
   Be his forever!

Verse 1:

All his martial deeds may die,
   Lasting still his charity;
   This his laurel blooms for aye
   Dead he lives in us to-day.
This then our song shall be,
   As we chant his eulogy –
   "May our Founder's name endure
   Ever spotless, ever pure"


Verse 2:

Faithful may we ever be,
   Followers of his constancy;
   Firm of hand against the foe,
   Soft of heart to succour woe.
This then our song shall be,
   As we chant his eulogy –
   "May our Founder's name endure
   Ever spotless ever pure!"


Although La Martinière is not an explicitly Christian school (unlike convent/missionary schools) and has not had a church or chapel on campus since the destruction of the chapel in the 19th Century, there is an official school prayer as well.

The School Prayer[edit]

O Almighty God and most merciful Father who has taught us to praise Thee, as well for the dead as the living. We thank thee for Claude Martin, Our Founder, for Catchick Paul Chater, our benefactor, and for the lives and examples of all those who have served Thee in this School. Pour down Thy blessings, we pray Thee, upon those who are now here. Prosper our labours, as Thou in Thy wisdom seest to be best for us. Protect us, we beseech Thee, from all things hurtful both to soul and body. Preserve us by Thy Holy Spirit from sin and selfishness, and make us generous and brave, pure and true, in all our work and in all our play that our task being sanctified by Thy love, our days here may be attended by Thy blessing; and that when our day's work on earth is over, Thou mayest send us rest from our labours, under the shadow of Thy wings; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prefects and school colours[edit]

La Martinière for Boys: The Principal and staff select five boys from each house in Class XII as school prefects, and another boy from any house as the school captain, making 21 prefects in each year. One of these five boys is selected as the House Captain, making four House Captains. Prefects wear a "double bar" tie, with two stripes instead of the standard one.

"Colours" are awarded to students who have distinguished themselves and brought credit to the school in extra-curricular activities — a concept roughly corresponding to the "blue" of Oxford or Cambridge universities. Recipients of boys school colours wear a "triple bar" tie in Class XII and in girls school the blazer crest is silver. Colours are awarded at the discretion of the master-in-charge of a particular activity. The school has introduced the Major and Minor colour system, which recognizes different levels of contribution towards a sport. Colours are limited to 3 or 4 a batch.

La Martinière for Girls: There are two sets of prefects in girls school, the junior prefects ( who are students of class 10 ) and senior prefects ( who are students of class 12 ). The prefects are elected by the students of their own batch. A school captain and a sports captain are assigned by the senior teachers with help from students of the previous batch. The captain for the four houses are decided mainly by the teacher in charge of the house and the previous captains and vice captains. However to be captain the student must be an elected senior prefect for that year. The decision is based on other factors as well such as discipline, responsibility and contribution to the house. The five vice captains are selected by the same process however they may or may not be senior prefects.


The schools are governed by a six-member Board of Acting Governors, which is controlled by the Church of North India. The chairman is the Bishop of Calcutta, The Rt. Rev. Ashoke Biswas, the advisory board consisting of select Presbyters of the Diocese of Calcutta, such as Rev. Nigel Pope, Rev. Andrew Simick, Rev. Abir Adhikary, Rev. Vishwa Vijay Gain, and Rev. Paritosh Canning. The Board of Governors also includes figures such as John Mukherjee ('60 batch), former Chief of Staff, Eastern Command, Indian Army.


The school has a legacy of producing a long list of distinguished personalities in the fields of academics, entertainment, sports, business, and the media.

The alumni association is called the ALMA (Association of La Martiniere Alumni), an influential organisation with chapters all across the globe. An alumnus of the school is referred to as a Old Martinian.


  • P. Sen ('43 batch), cricket: Better known as Khokhon Sen, won 14 test caps for India between '48 and '52 as wicketkeeper.
  • Oscar Ward, boxing: represented India in the 1952 Olympics as a lightheavyweight
  • Ann Lumsden, hockey: first woman to win Arjuna Award
  • Jaidip Mukerjea ('59 batch), tennis
  • Chhanda Gain, first Bengali woman to climb Mount Everest
  • Rishi Narayan, golf: member of the Indian golf squad in the IX Asiad
  • Brandon DeSouza ('79 batch, School Vice Captain), pro golfer and golfing events promoter
  • Enrico Piperno ('80 batch), tennis: Silver Medalist at '82 Delhi Asian Games; Davis Cup team member and current Indian Fed Cup coach.
  • Leander Paes ('92 batch), tennis: till Class VII only; he transferred thereafter to the Brittania Academy, Madras)

Media and journalism[edit]

  • Sunanda K. Datta-Ray ('54 batch), author, journalist and former editor of The Statesman
  • Rajiv Mehrotra ('69 batch), award winning documentary film maker. iconic 'voice' and television anchor. Managing Trustee, Public Service Broadcasting Trust.
  • Jug Suraiya ('62 batch), humourist and journalist
  • Pritish Nandy ('69 batch), poet, journalist and film producer.
  • Swapan Dasgupta ('72 batch), journalist and political commentator.
  • Chandan Mitra (Gold Medallist, '72 batch), Member of Parliament and journalist; author of "Constant Glory", an authorized history of La Martinière.
  • Paranjoy Guha Thakurta ('72 batch), journalist
  • Prannoy Roy, television broadcaster. (till Class V; he transferred thereafter to Doon School, Dehra Dun)
  • Indrajit Gupta ('86 batch), editor, Forbes India
  • D.N. ("Bonny") Mukherjea ('86 batch), editor, Fortune India
  • Jayadiya Gupta ('86 batch), Executive editor of ESPNcricinfo, India
  • Suhel Seth ('82 batch), advertising and TV
  • Ashok Malik ('88 batch), columnist, The Pioneer
  • Avirook Sen, ('87 batch), author, journalist

Business and finance[edit]

  • Catchick Paul Chater (1864 batch), Father of modern Hong Kong, benefactor to the College (Rupees 1.1 million in the 1910s). Chater was a Foundation Scholar.
  • Vijay Mallya ('72 batch, Hastings House Captain), Chairman of the United Breweries (UB) Group and Rajya Sabha member
  • C K Birla, CEO of Hinduatan Motors
  • Harsh Neotia, Chairman and CEO, Bengal Ambuja Group
  • Ronju Dutt ('57 batch), former chairman and CEO of Bata India
  • Pramod Bhasin ('75 batch), founder and first CEO of Genpact.
  • Hemant Kanoria ('80 batch), founder and Chairman of SREI Infrastructure Finance
  • Priya Paul ('83 batch), director, Apeejay Surrendra Group; Class XI and XII
  • Karan Paul ('88 batch), Chairman, Apeejay Surrendra Group; till Class VI, transferred to Lawrence School, Sanawar.

Academia and education[edit]

  • A. W. Wilson Steel (1855 batch), second Wrangler at Cambridge University, 1859; Fellow, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
  • John Mason (Good Conduct Medal, '62 batch), educationist. Mason was a Foundation Scholar.
  • Nirmalya Kumar ('77 batch), business writer, Professor and Director for Aditya V. Birla India Centre at London Business School.
  • Dr. Rajit Gadh, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Samantak Das ('84 batch), Professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University
  • Santosh Kumar Misra ('67 batch) Professor of Architecture and Principal CET. Bhubaneswar, Educationist and Academic Administrator.
  • Ashwin Lall ('99 batch), Professor of Computer Science, Denison University
  • Akshaye Dhawan ('99 batch), Professor of Computer Science, Ursinus College

Arts, culture and entertainment[edit]

  • John Campbell Oman, (1859 batch), one of the first English-language writers on Indian religion and spirituality, author of "The Mystics, Ascetics and Saints of India".
  • Nafisa Ali, actress/ model, Miss India in 1975, also a National Swimming champion
  • Barry O'Brien (Best All-rounder, '82 batch), quizmaster and MLA for the Anglo-Indian community in West Bengal
  • Bickram Ghosh ('84 batch), tabla pandit
  • Merle Oberon, (1929 batch), Hollywood actress
  • Kiran Rao ('85 batch, plus 2 only), film producer ("Dhobi Ghat")
  • Anuvab Pal ('95 batch, House Captain), comedian and playwright
  • Kumar Mukherjee ('90 batch),Hindustani Classical singer


  • Gregory Charles Paul, (Gold Medallist 1845), Advocate-General, Bengal Presidency.
  • Alfred Lethbridge, (1862 batch, est), British colonial administrator.
  • Jiten Chaudhary ('48 batch), Judge of Calcutta High Court
  • Kamakhya Prasad Singh Deo ('61 batch), Union Cabinet minister (Information and Broadcasting) in the 1980s
  • Mausam Benazir Noor, MP, Lok Sabha, representing Malda North constituency
  • Andy Varma ('75 batch), chef/owner, Chakra Restaurant, London; formerly the chef/ owner of Vama restaurant, which was one of the pioneering high-end Indian restaurants in London.
  • John Mukherjee ('60 batch), former Chief of Staff, Eastern Command, Indian Army.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "India's Best Schools". Rediff.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  3. ^ "India's Best Schools 2015". India Today.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  4. ^ a b La Martiniere history at Tripod accessed 10 August 2007
  5. ^ Oudh fish coins at the British Museum accessed 10 August 2007

External links[edit]