Small in stature but possessed of a dynamic personality the late Mr B.D. Lalla dominated the educational, cultural, social and sporting scene for over four decades. He received his early education at the St. Aidans and Higher Grade Indian Schools in Durban before proceeding to India where he studied at the Central Hindu College in Benares and the Aryan Institute in Calcutta. Back in South Africa he attended the Marine College and Fort Hare. Later he read for the B.A. Degree as a part-&SHY;time student of the Natal University College.
His early training as a teacher was gained at the Cato Manor School under the principalship of the late Mr Bernard Barnabas. He then went on to teach at his Alma Mater-St Aidans. After serving only ten years as an assistant teacher, his efficiency received due recognition when he was appointed headmaster of Clairwood Infant, Manilall Valjee, A.Y.S. and Overport S.R.S. Schools until his retirement on November 30, 1969. He was also associated with the M.L. Sultan Technical College as a part-time lecturer since its inception and was for a time, lecturer-in charge of the Hindu Tamil Institute Branch of the College.
As a guide and counsellor his advice was often sought by his colleagues. He gave much of his time to his professional body - Natal Indian Teachers Society which he served with distinction in various capacities before assuming the position of President for three terms between 1947 and 1950. It was he who envisaged the idea of a Teachers Centre and was one of the ten original directors of N.I.T.S. Investment Ltd., which company has just completed the erection of the prestigious fifteen-storey Teachers Centre in Durban. He was also the Co-Editor of the "Indian Educator", the first official journal of the Natal Indian Teachers' Society published in the early thirties.
His community activities were wide and varied and he made a very significant contribution in the field of sporting, religious, cultural and social spheres. Among the many organisations which he served as President were the Sydenham Young Mens Club; Vedic Educational Society; Indian Culture and Study Group; N.U.C. Students Union and the Clairwood and District Juvenile Care Council. He was also Secretary of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha; Indo-European Joint Council and the Indian Social Service Committee when it was first founded by the Rt Hon. Srinivasa Sastri.
A prolific writer, his services were in great demand to edit cultural and educational magazines. Among others he was Editor of "The Hindu" and "Vedic Voice", both of which disseminated knowledge of Hindu Dharma. Perhaps his best known literary achievements were his two volumes of poetry -- "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Black Coolie". As a playwright he is remembered for his two fascinating short plays - "Pilgrimage" and "Mango Trick".
His death in April 1977 was a grievous loss to the community but we remain grateful to the Almighty that a man of his stature and undoubted ability was spared to serve his people with such distinction for so long.