Friday, January 13, 2012

Presidency University

The high point of last week was a visit to the oldest college in India. Presidency college, Kolkata, started life as Hindu college and was founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1817. In 1855, it was renamed as Presidency college, and has metamorphosed into what might be the youngest university in India, Presidency University, in 2010. Before this, the college was affiliated to the University of Calcutta, since 1857. The college shifted premises several times until it came to rest at its present location on College street in 1874, across the road from Calcutta University. The chemistry department conducted its first batch of practicals here in the next year, starting the venerable tradition of science departments, which train what turn out to be the best science students in the country, year after year, right upto now. Here is a picture of what the "new building" looked like last week.

You can see from the banners and the bunting in the photos that the college is presently conducting student elections, as well as the 41st reunion of the geophysical society. Over its life span, the college has boasted of a veritable galaxy of stellar teachers, J.C. Bose, and P.C. Ray being among the most notable. Here is a picture of the statue of J.C. Bose, sitting in the marble corridor outside the J.C. Bose auditorium, looking a trifle bad tempered. That's probably the black granite!

The college has now to negotiate the tricky path which will take it from its position as one of the most renowned colleges in India, to graduating to a full fledged university. It has a host of distinguished ex-students who will perhaps be only too happy to help along their alma mater in this endeavour, to say nothing of the good wishes of all of us, who have been sufficiently fortunate to have acquired numerous friends, and all our best students, from its alumni.

This blog post is by Neelima Gupte and Sumathi Rao.

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