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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Edition 19: Fergussion College: From Landmark to Heritage


With the end of the East India Company’s regime in India after the failure of first armed uprising in 1857, a new era dawned in our country. The Founders of the Fergusson College, which had names like Vishnushastri Chiplunkar and Lokmany Bal Gangadhar Tilak among others had first started the New English School, Pune in 1880. They later founded the Deccan Education Society (DES) in 1884.

This was followed by the bold step to start the first ever privately managed college in India, on the 2nd January 1885, naming it as the Fergusson College. The name was given in appreciation of the support of Sir James Fergusson, the then Governor of Bombay Province and also the first Patron of the DES. Principal William Wordsworth, the grandson of the famous poet, was the master of the ceremonies at the inaugural function of the college. Thus, the Fergusson College bridged the gulf between the great city of London and Poona, the city of the Peshwas and on this occasion Sir Fergusson wished God’s blessings on this new venture. The college received affiliation of the University of Bombay and began its onward march in higher education with the opening of the Arts classes, followed in 1892, with the science classes.

The college held these classes, for almost ten years, in the old Gadre Wada and other locations in Poona. A plot of about 37 acres (a portion of the present extensive campus) was acquired on a 99 years’ lease in 1891 by the DES. The foundation stone of the Main building of the Fergusson College, was laid in 1892 and the building was completed in 1895. The college started functioning on the present campus in 1895. From then onwards, the college has emerged as a nation-building institution. It has a place of pride in the hearts of the people, as a historical monument and a symbol of the country’s freedom struggle.

While the founders Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Ballal Namjoshi and Vaman Shivram Apte have become legends, in the history of education and the freedom struggle in India, the college has also received significant support from academicians and statesmen, such as Principal William Wordsworth, Principal F. G. Selby, Lord Rippon, Sir William Wedderburn and Sir James Fergusson. Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade, the wisest protagonist of liberalism and secular political ethos, emerging in Indian Society, described the opening of Fergusson College as having, “unquestionably a great political importance as well”. The truth of this statement is evident by the fact that the Fergusson College has produced great political leaders, such as the former-Prime Ministers P. V. Narasimhrao and V. P. Singh, former-Chief Minister Babubhai Patel, former-Minister of Information and Broadcasting Barrister V. N. Gadgil; Acharya Kripalani, Veer Savarkar and S. M. Joshi.

Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who was described by Mahatma Gandhi, as his political guru and mentor, gave a distinctive touch to the Fergusson College. In his address delivered at the time of laying of the corner stone of the New English School and the Fergusson college building, on the 5th March 1885, Sir James Fergusson declared that the opening of the College was more a national than a local undertaking. All through its history of 125 years of a shrine–like existence, Fergusson college crossed the mark of being a local landmark to being a national heritage.

FC has given to the country, from among its alumni, great patriots, thinkers, philosophers, poets, writers, teachers, social workers, scientists, industrialists, entrepreneurs, researchers, administrators and defense officers. In keeping with its eminent standing in the educational field, some of its teachers and students have brought laurels to the college, by being appointed as Vice Chancellors of Pune and other Universities.

The FC completed 50 years in January 1935 and Sir C. V. Raman, the only Indian recipient of the prestigious Nobel Award in science, was the President of the Golden Jubilee function. He had said at the time, “ … … Standing here today, I feel that history has been written in Poona- history of self-help, history of self-reliance, history of great and constructive national effort- that history has been written in Poona, has been written on this very spot …” Mahatma Gandhi, in his message to Principal Dr. Mahajani on this occasion, wrote, “Who will fail to be enthused over the noble record of the service rendered by the D. E. Society and the Fergusson College to the cause of education?”

The Centenary of the college was celebrated on 1st June 1985. Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India referred to Fergusson College as a pocket of excellence producing individuals who can rise to the levels unheard of and unbelievable. Now the college is has approached another milestone with completing 125th anniversary. City Blog wishes all the best for the future journey of the college.

With the end of the East India Company’s regime in India after the failure of first armed uprising in 1857, a new era dawned in our country. The Founders of the Fergusson College, which had names like Vishnushastri Chiplunkar and Lokmany Bal Gangadhar Tilak among others had first started the New English School, Pune in 1880. They later founded the Deccan Education Society (DES) in 1884.

This was followed by the bold step to start the first ever privately managed college in India, on the 2nd January 1885, naming it as the Fergusson College. The name was given in appreciation of the support of Sir James Fergusson, the then Governor of Bombay Province and also the first Patron of the DES. Principal William Wordsworth, the grandson of the famous poet, was the master of the ceremonies at the inaugural function of the college. Thus, the Fergusson College bridged the gulf between the great city of London and Poona, the city of the Peshwas and on this occasion Sir Fergusson wished God’s blessings on this new venture. The college received affiliation of the University of Bombay and began its onward march in higher education with the opening of the Arts classes, followed in 1892, with the science classes.

The college held these classes, for almost ten years, in the old Gadre Wada and other locations in Poona. A plot of about 37 acres (a portion of the present extensive campus) was acquired on a 99 years’ lease in 1891 by the DES. The foundation stone of the Main building of the Fergusson College, was laid in 1892 and the building was completed in 1895. The college started functioning on the present campus in 1895. From then onwards, the college has emerged as a nation-building institution. It has a place of pride in the hearts of the people, as a historical monument and a symbol of the country’s freedom struggle.

While the founders Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Ballal Namjoshi and Vaman Shivram Apte have become legends, in the history of education and the freedom struggle in India, the college has also received significant support from academicians and statesmen, such as Principal William Wordsworth, Principal F. G. Selby, Lord Rippon, Sir William Wedderburn and Sir James Fergusson. Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade, the wisest protagonist of liberalism and secular political ethos, emerging in Indian Society, described the opening of Fergusson College as having, “unquestionably a great political importance as well”. The truth of this statement is evident by the fact that the Fergusson College has produced great political leaders, such as the former-Prime Ministers P. V. Narasimhrao and V. P. Singh, former-Chief Minister Babubhai Patel, former-Minister of Information and Broadcasting Barrister V. N. Gadgil; Acharya Kripalani, Veer Savarkar and S. M. Joshi.

Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who was described by Mahatma Gandhi, as his political guru and mentor, gave a distinctive touch to the Fergusson College. In his address delivered at the time of laying of the corner stone of the New English School and the Fergusson college building, on the 5th March 1885, Sir James Fergusson declared that the opening of the College was more a national than a local undertaking. All through its history of 125 years of a shrine–like existence, Fergusson college crossed the mark of being a local landmark to being a national heritage.

FC has given to the country, from among its alumni, great patriots, thinkers, philosophers, poets, writers, teachers, social workers, scientists, industrialists, entrepreneurs, researchers, administrators and defense officers. In keeping with its eminent standing in the educational field, some of its teachers and students have brought laurels to the college, by being appointed as Vice Chancellors of Pune and other Universities.

The FC completed 50 years in January 1935 and Sir C. V. Raman, the only Indian recipient of the prestigious Nobel Award in science, was the President of the Golden Jubilee function. He had said at the time, “ … … Standing here today, I feel that history has been written in Poona- history of self-help, history of self-reliance, history of great and constructive national effort- that history has been written in Poona, has been written on this very spot …” Mahatma Gandhi, in his message to Principal Dr. Mahajani on this occasion, wrote, “Who will fail to be enthused over the noble record of the service rendered by the D. E. Society and the Fergusson College to the cause of education?”

The Centenary of the college was celebrated on 1st June 1985. Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India referred to Fergusson College as a pocket of excellence producing individuals who can rise to the levels unheard of and unbelievable. Now the college is has approached another milestone with completing 125th anniversary. City Blog wishes all the best for the future journey of the college.

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Presidents Recounts Tryst With FC

President of India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil graced the occasion of ‘Concluding Ceremony of Post Centennial Silver Jubilee Celebrations’ of Deccan Education Society on April 19, 2010.

Speaking on the occasion, Mrs. Patil said, “Educated class should come forward for the resolution of problems like poverty, unemployment and corruption.” She said that

Also present on the occasion were K. Sankaranarayanan, Governor of Maharashtra, Chhagan Bhujbal, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Chhatrapati Shahu of Kolhapur, President of Deccan Education Society, Subhash Zanak, minister for women and child welfare. Recounting the glorious tradition of people behind the institution, she said that the Fergusson College is no longer an institute of providing the higher education but it has metamorphosed in an institution of great ideals.

She reminded with pride that her father Nanasaheb and uncle Shripat Patil had studied in the same college. A souvenir was also published at this occasion.

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Caption For Photo:

President Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil being welcomed on stage and being presented a memento at the concluding function of the Post Centenary Silver Jubilee Celebrations of Fergussion College by Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, president of Deccan Education Society.

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