Joining the illustrious league of universities across the world, Presidency University enabled a virtual access to the institution first started by the British in India
Six-year-old Presidency University which is celebrating its 200th anniversary as Asia’s first undergraduate college has joined the illustrious league of universities across the world to enable a virtual access to the institution, courtesy a tie-up with Google Arts & Culture. The initiative which has been launched a couple of months back gives an e-traveller access to the rich cultural heritage of Presidency. If someone peeps into it, the traveller will surely be awed with such names as Swami Vivekananda, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, scientist Satyendranath Bose, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee( who penned Bande Mataram), eminent statistician Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, film maestro Satyajit Ray et all. A galaxy of giants that strode various fields in the pre and post-Independent India, will be greeting the traveller once he or she logs into it. The stress of the e-museum is on the freedom movement though.
Titled “Towards Swaraj –Presidency during the Indian Freedom Struggle”, the virtual exhibition has put on display a large number of rare documents that are certain to fascinate those researching into the country’s chequered past. “ The exhibition has been dedicated to Presidency and history associated with the institution during the freedom movement. The exhibition has been divided into segments and the role this illustrious college has played in shaping the freedom struggle and the magnificent contribution that it has made,” Presidency University vice-chancellor Anuradha Lohia said. The exhibition features personalities, documents, manuscripts and photographs that have immense historical value.
The rare documents which the Presidency authorities have taken pains to search and list for an exhibition have either been scanned or photographed for the virtual museum. To name just a few such rare items – Action Day letter sent by statistician and principal P C Mahalanobis to director of public instructions(DPI) of the British government on the situation around Presidency College; the first Independence Day celebration notice; notices that announced the birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi.
Citing another interesting document, she said a notice sent by DPI to the college principal directed the later about the dangerous chemicals that the laboratory had. DPI cautioned the principal against falling the same in the hands of the radical students as the chemicals might be used to prepare explosives and hence, they must always be kept under the lock.
Another interesting holiday notice that is certain to grab the attention, is the one that was put up on the campus after the Allied Forces won the World War II. The leaflets of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army demanding `Blood for Blood’ which were distributed among the students and confiscated by the cops from the campus, were also on display.The leaflets were distributed among the students by the brother of Bhagat Singh. Incidentally, British Library in London and Centre for Social Sciences, Calcutta is in possession of some rare documents pertaining to the early history of Presidency. Authorities have approached the British Library and Social Science for obtaining access to the same and the due permission for their inclusion in the e-museum.
This apart, some of the contemporary newspapers like Amrita Bazar Patrika, Yugantar and Ananda Bazar Patrika had carried some news on the goings-on of the Presidency Collge then. “ We’ve already obtained reports from Amrita Bazar Patrika on Direct Action Day that was published in a series of reports,” she said. The front page of the Amrita Bazar Patrika edition dated August 15, 1947, announcing India’s Independence, has already found a place in the virtual exhibition.
In order to engage an itinerant viewer, the authorities have also mounted four exhibitions alongside on a variety of themes like women in politics, etchings of Sergei Eisenstein (to mark the 100 years of Russian Revolution), drawings and artworks of Somnath Hore and drawings based on Isha Upanishad.
“ We at Presidency intend to keep the flag flying so far as the leadership role is concerned, by sensitising the students about contextual issues of historical importance through such exhibitions,” an official added. A Black Box Theatre, the first in a state-funded university, has come up in the campus.
The list may go on; it is only in the fitness of things that the university just added another feather to its cap when it got a very impressive 3.04 CGPA and Grade A from National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).
It is rare for a fledgeling new university to get a top rating in its first cycle because NAAC takes into account the number of Ph.D. students produced. But Presidency could start its doctoral course only in 2014, after a statute was put in place. But the university more than made up for this by securing the highest marks in governance and infrastructure.
“We are very happy. In the first cycle, it is an achievement. The only area where we did not score is the number of Ph.D. awardees. We will take another 4-5 years to churn out Ph.Ds,” Lohia said.
“The NAAC rating will allow us to go in for more foreign collaborations, become eligible for central funding and attract more foreign students. Besides, faculty from renowned institutes will be interested in joining us,” said a university official. “ It’s true, we are yet to churn out our own Ph.D. students. But the research output, infrastructure, governance, updated curriculum, an up-to-date teaching-learning process helped us achieve this,” he added.
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