A UNIVERSITY OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLEDecember 29, 2016
The Hindoo College was established by citizens of Kolkata. There were Indians, and there were the British. But it was not a government initiative, nor was it an institution promoted by a religious sect. It was planned as an institution that would impart Western education to the ‘respectable class of Hindus’. But the curriculum was secular and non-denominational: there was no attempt at teaching theology or religious texts. In 1855, the Government took over the College, renamed it Presidency College, separated its junior section, and threw its doors open to learners from all communities. This was the institution that was to become one of the great centres of learning in South Asia.
Hindoo College may have been formally instituted in 1816, but classes did not begin before 20 January 1817 in a rented house in the Garanhata area in Chitpur. This date has been traditionally observed as Founders’ Day. In 2010, the College was awarded the status of a university by an Act passed in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. Hence, a new university that is also an old College would be inaugurating its 200th anniversary of the beginning of classes on the 6th of January at Prinsep Ghat.
The year 2017 will be a very important year in the history of higher education in Bengal. There will be yearlong events that Presidency University has in store. Along with a two new campuses, one at Rajarhat and the other at Kurseong, the University is also adding new departments and programmes to its academic curriculum.
The Vice-Chancellor of Presidency University announced that the ceremonial inauguration of the bicentenary celebrations would be held on the 6th of January at Prinsep Ghat. Prinsep Ghat is an iconic landmark in the city of Kolkata. It is named after James Prinsep, an English scholar, antiquary and a civilian who, among other things, was in charge of the Mint.
Prinsep Ghat was built along the bank of the river Bhagirathi. The magnificent Palladian porch was constructed in the memory of James Prinsep in the year 1843. The pleasantness of the ghat along with the mighty river it leads one to makes the site a favourite recreational spot for visitors.
Prinsep Ghat as venue would ensure the involvement of the people of West Bengal in the institution’s fortunes. An open public space was needed for the purpose, away from the congestion of College Street where parking is difficult even on regular working days.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be inaugurating the event at Prinsep Ghat. Nobel laureates, eminent personalities and speakers will be present. Most importantly, the formal inauguration will be a public event, and all are invited on the 6th of January 2017 at 5.30 pm.