Established in January 24, 1857, the University of Calcutta (also known as Calcutta University) is the first modern university in the Indian sub_continent. It has its main campuses in College Street, Rajabazar, Alipore and a host of affiliated colleges in greater Calcutta .
Pioneers and Visionaries
As the first modern university in the Indian sub-continent, the once famous University of Calcutta saw its direction being ably veered towards indigenous concerns and its establishment as an international centre of academic excellence by the first Indian vice-chancellor, Sir Gooroodas Banerjee and later by the Indian vice-chancellors Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee and his son Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee (also a vice chancellor). Renowned teachers and educationists like Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, Acharya P.C. Roy, Acharya J.C. Bose, Satyen Bose, Meghnad Saha, P.C. Mahalanobis and a host of others graced the university.
Apart from many uniqueness, the early history of this university is no less interesting. It was Dr. Fredrick John, Education secretary to the then British Government in India, who first tendered a proposal to the British Government in London for establishing a university in Calcutta in the pattern of London University but failed to obtain necessary approval.
However, a proposal to establish two universities, one in Calcutta and the other in Bombay was accepted in 1854 and necessary order was issued. The Calcutta University Act came into force on 24th January, 1857 and a 41_member Senate was formed as the policy making body of the university.
During the British era and through Independence till the 1960s, it was regarded as one of the few seats of academic excellence to the east of Suez.
Area of operation
When this university was first established in 1857, it had an area of operation right from Agra to Burma (now Myanmar). No Indian university ever had such a vast area of operation.
The spirit of intellectual enquiry
During Pre-Independence days, Education was the most lively topic of discussion during the budget session in the erstwhile Bengal Legislative Council which was formed in 1862. Non-official members like Sir Surendra Nath Banerjee, Ananda Mohan Bose, Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, Bhupendra Nath Bose and others who represented the University of Calcutta were generally considered to be authoritative spokesmen of the Indians in the matter of education.
Once large number of languages like Greek, Latin, even Hebrew apart from the conventional ones were taught in this university. Many languages are still taught here now.
Stalwarts like Alexander Duff, Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Prasanna Kumar Thakur, Prince Golam Mohammad, William Gordon Pratt, Frederick John Moat, the Principal of Calcutta Madrasa were members of the first Senate. The first Chancellor and Vice-chancellor of the Calcutta University were the then Governor General Lord Canning and Sir James William Colvil, the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, respectively.
Sir Gooroodas Banerjee was the first Indian vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta. The first meeting of the Senate was held in the Council room of the Calcutta Medical College. A temporary office of the university was first started in a few rented rooms in Camac Street.
On 30th January, 1858, the Syndicate of the Calcutta University was constituted as executive body in the same year. For several years, the meetings of the Senate and Syndicate were held in a room of the Writer's Building. 244 candidates appeared for the first Entrance Examination of the university which was held in the month of March 1857 in the Town Hall of Calcutta.
In 1862, a decision was taken by the Senate to construct a building of its own for the university for conducting all sorts of its business from a single place. Accordingly, the historical Senate Hall of the Calcutta University (now not be seen as the Centenary Building has come up at the same place after demolishing the Senate Hall) was constructed at a cost of Rs. 2,52,221/- and inaugurated on 12th March 1873 by holding the convocation of the university.
Tradition and Continuity
Modelled on the University of London, the University of Calcutta courses include arts, commerce, science , law , engineering , medicine , management and other disciplines. It aims to make students experts in core areas of academic research.
At a glance
At present, Calcutta University has 58 departments, 18 research centres, 650 teachers, 3000 non_teaching staff and 12,400 post_graduate students.
Calcutta University has been maintaining its international standards since its inception . It has become almost a forgotten chapter of history that this University has rich heritage and long legacy.
A tradition of notable firsts
- The first university located to the east of Suez to teach European Classics, English Literature , European and Indian Philosophy and Occidental and Oriental History.
- The first medical school of Asia, the Calcutta Medical College was set up in 1835. Later it was affiliated to the university.
- The first college for women in India, the Bethune College was set up in 1879.
- The nation's first homeopathy college was established in 1880.
- The Science College was established in 1917, the first in India.
- The first blind school in India came into being in 1925.
- The first university museum in India , The Ashutosh Museum, came into being in 1937.
- The Government Arts College was established in 1951.
- The Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management (IISWBM) was set up in 1953 as the country's first management institute.
Recent Accreditation and Recognition
- NAAC Five Star Recognition link (http://www.naac_india.com/default.asp)
- Ranking of Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China link (http://ed.sjtu.edu.cn/rank/2004/top500(404_502).htm)
The university is unique and incomparable in many ways . Though it had slipped in national indexes in the past due to excessive politicization, adherence to traditional teaching methodology and outdated syllabi, there has been a revival of academic interest and renewal of infrastructure, due to which it has been awarded the status of a ‘five star university’ by the National Accreditation and Assessment Council in 2001.
On 1st June, 2001, Calcutta University received a communication from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) to the effect that the university received five_star rating for five years on the basis of the Council's own assessment and evaluation of performance of the university on syllabi, method of teaching and examination system, quality of research, social impact of university's research and education, structure, standard of constituent and affiliated colleges, student welfare activities, educational environment and so on.
The university has received this rare honour on the basis of its all_round performance. On behalf of University Grants Commission, NAAC conducts this kind of assessment following the method of International Network of Quality Assurance Agency in Higher Education for determining the standard of performance of the Indian universities which receive grants from the UGC. Considering the huge structure of the Calcutta University, it is a noteworthy feat indeed.
The Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China has recently prepared a list of the world's top 500 institutions of higher learning (universities, research institutes etc.). The complete list is now available on the internet under the heading "Academic Ranking of World Universities, 2004" (see link above). The University of Calcutta is the only university from India (indeed the only university from the SAARC region) to appear on the list. The other institutions from India on the list are - the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.
It may not be out of place to mention some important facets that make this ranking more worthwhile. First, the methodology that has been employed to arrive at the ranking ensures that the exercise is almost exclusively focused on the current states of affairs at the universities and little, if any, credit is given to heritage or past laurels; and secondly, research, as evidenced by publication in world-class journals, has received more attention than any other activity.
This certainly shows that the Calcutta University is successfully maintaining its glorious heritage in achieving laurels from the world's academia.
Students from this university have been pursuing higher studies abroad since its inception and in almost all the major research universities of the world, which admit visiting foreign scholars, at one point in their academic existence, have had students of this university in their enrolment registers.
Students from this university are to be found all over the world. During the British era and in the era after Independence to the 1980s, the preferred destinations for furthering studies were primarily the United Kingdom, United States of America, Eire, France, Soviet Union and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Cyprus, China, Japan, Singapore.
In a contrast to the previous era, where the preferred subjects were Humanities, Science, Engineering, Medicine, and Law, the preferred subjects now include, apart from the above, Business Management, Finance, Commerce, Communication, Information Technology, Fashion Designing, Hospitality Management, Biotechnology, Genetics, Robotics, and Nano-technology. In fact, many graduates and post graduates of this university show their flexibility to any academic milieu by changing their majors while studying abroad, thereby illustrating the academic versatility of its student base.
Notable Alumni / Faculty
Two past presidents of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan were associated with this University. Three Nobel Laureates, Rabindranath Tagore, Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman and Amartya Sen were also associated with this University.
Burmese politician Dr.Ba Maw, who in 1937, became the first Burmese premier under British rule and was head of state in the first sovereign (although pro-Japanese) government during World War II (August 1943-May 1945) an alumni of this university.
In 1883 Kadambini Ganguly and Chandramukhi Basu became the first women graduates from Calcutta University.
India's first female physician, Dr. Kadambini Basu received her medical degree from Calcutta University.
Other famous alumni include (Incomplete list)
- Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, novelist
- Michael Madhusudan Dutt, first poet laureate in Bengali and dramatist
- K. S. Krishnan , philosopher
- D. R. Bhandarkar , historian
- Ganesh Prasad , mathematician
- Dhan Gopal Mukerji, socio-cultural critic and first successful man of letters in early 20th century United States of America
- Brajendra Nath Seal , philosopher
- Subodh Chandra Sengupta, internationally acclaimed authority on Victorianism and Shakespeare
- Hiren Mukherjee, Communist Parliamentarian and renowned commentator on culture
- Nikhilranjan Sen , mathematician
- Gnanchandra Ghosh , chemist
- Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay , linguist
- Romesh Chunder Majumder , historian
- Hemchandra Ray Chowdhury , historian
- Binoy Kumar Sarkar , economist
- Dinesh Chandra Sen, scholar of early Bengali literature
- Paramahansa Yogananda
- Radhanath Sikdar
- Satyajit Ray
- Satyendra Nath Bose
- Meghnad Saha, physicist
- Jagadish Chandra Bose
- Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis
- Prafulla Chandra Ray, chemist
- Girindra Sekhar Bose , physician , applied psychologist and founder, Indian Psychoanalytical Society
- Surendranath Dasgupta, philosophy
- Prafulla Chandra Ghosh, English literature scholar
- Shrikumar Banerji, scholar in English and Bengali literature
- Kuruvilla Zachariah, historian
- Jehangir Coyajee, economics
- Tarashankar Bandopadhyay , journalist and writer
- Nirad C. Chaudhuri ,
- Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak,
- Sir Jadunath Sircar, historian
- Samaresh Majumdar , writer
- Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay , poet and writer
- Bimal Mitra, novelist
- Dibyendu Palit, ad-man turned novelist
- Purnendu Pattrea, writer
- Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, novelist
- Rajashekhar Basu, writer
- Premendra Mitra, writer
- Syed Mustafa Siraj, novelist
- Mahashweta Devi , social worker, activist, novelist and feminist turned Marxist
- Sanjeeb Chattopadhyay, novelist
- Bimal Kar , novelist
- Sunil Gangopadhyay
- Bharati Mukherjee
- Mrinal Sen, film director
- Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay
- P.C.Sorcar Jr , internationally acclaimed magician
- Sunanda Sanyal, social critic and socio-cultural commentator
- Suchitra Mitra, Rabindra Sangeet exponent
- Pranab Mukherjee , Union Defence Minister
- Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker, Lok Sabha
- Rudra Prasad Sengupta, thespian
- Barun Sengupta, Editor, Bartaman newspaper
- Mamata Banerjee, Founder and Chief Executive, All India Nationalist Trinamool Congress Party
- Derek O'Brien , nationally famous Quiz Master and television host
- Indrani Sen, Rabindra Sangeet exponent
- Anjan Dutt, and son Neel Dutt, exponents of the Jeebonmukhi school of music