Presidency University, Kolkata

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Presidency University
Presidency University Logo
Established 20 January 1817 (as Hindu College, rechristened Presidency College in 1855)
Type Public
Vice-Chancellor Anuradha Lohia
Students 2202 (in 2004)
(951 male, 1251 female)
Location Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Campus Urban
Affiliations UGC, NAAC, AIU

Presidency University, Kolkata, formerly Hindu College and Presidency College,[1] is a public state university located in Kolkata, West Bengal.[2]

It was established in 1817, making it one of the oldest educational institutions of western education in South Asia. It was founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, and a number of other eminent personalities of Bengal, such as Raja Radhakanta Deb, Maharaja Tejchandra Ray of Burdwan, David Hare, Justice Sir Edward Hyde East, Prasanna Coomar Tagore and Babu Buddinath Mukherjee[citation needed].

Established as the Mahapathshala wing of Hindu College, it was renamed Presidency College, i.e., the college of the Bengal Presidency, in 1855. In 2010, under the Chief Ministership of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, a former student of the college, it was upgraded to the status of a full university by the Presidency University Act, 2010 passed in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. The Governor of West Bengal, M.K. Narayanan, gave his consent to the bill on 7 July 2010.

The longest serving Principal of Presidency College was J. Sutcliff, who was its principal intermittently for 20 years, from 1852-1875. He was the principal of the college when the college was renamed in 1855 and the new building at 86/1, College Street was built a few years later. The first Indian (acting) principal of the college was Prasanna Kumar Ray (1902; 1903 and 1905–1906) and the first Indian (full-time) Principal of the college was B.M. Sen (1931-1934 (acting) and 1934–1942).


Principals of Presidency College
Vice Chancellors of Presidency University
  • Amita Chatterjee, 2010–2011
  • Malabika Sarkar, 2011-2014
  • Anuradha Lohia, 2014–present


With the creation of the Supreme Court of Calcutta in 1773 many Hindus of Bengal showed eagerness to learn the English language. David Hare, in collaboration with Raja Radhakanta Deb had already taken steps to introduce English education in Bengal. Babu Buddinath Mukherjee advanced the introduction of English as a medium of instruction further by enlisting the support of Sir Edward Hyde East, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India who called a meeting of 'European and Hindu Gentlemen' in his house in May 1816. The purpose of the meeting was to "discuss the proposal to establish an institution for giving a liberal education to the children of the members of the Hindu Community". The proposal was received with unanimous approbation and a donation of over Rs. 100, 000 was promised for the setting up of the new college. Raja Ram Mohan Roy showed full sympathy for the scheme but chose not to come out in support of the proposal publicly for fear of "alarming the prejudices of his orthodox countrymen and thus marring the whole idea".

The College was formally opened on Monday, January 20, 1817 with 20 'scholars'. The foundation committee of the college, which oversaw its establishment, was headed by Raja Rammohan Roy. The control of the institution was vested in a body of two Governors and four Directors. The first Governors of the college were Maharaja Tejchandra Bahadur of Burdwan and Babu Gopee Mohan Thakoor. The first Directors were Babu Gopi Mohun Deb of Sobhabazar, Babu Joykissen Sinha, Babu Radha Madhab Banerjee and Babu Gunganarain Doss. Babu Buddinath Mukherjee was appointed as the first Secretary of the college. The newly established college mostly admitted Hindu students from affluent and progressive families, but also admitted non-Hindu students such as Muslims, Jews, Christians and Buddhists.

At first the classes were held in a house belonging to Gorachand Bysack of Garanhatta (later renamed 304, Chitpore Road), which was rented by the college. In January 1818 the college moved to 'Feringhi Kamal Bose's house' which was located nearby in Chitpore.[3] From Chitpore, the college moved to Bowbazar and later to the building that now houses the Sanskrit College on College Street.

Early 19th century[edit]

The increasing realization of the value of western education made the college a coveted destination for scholars from all over the subcontinent. Pupils have come from almost all parts of the country, most notably from Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. By 1828 enrolment of students steeply rose to 400. The obvious question, that then arose, was whether it would not be wiser for the Government of Bengal to establish a new 'English College' open to all classes and community of students. The Committee of Managers of Hindu College had soon after the inception of the college become dependent on government subsidy, due to serious shortage of funds. The government had begun to play a greater role in the administration of the College.

From Hindu College to Presidency College[edit]

On 21 October 1853, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha, suggested that

The 'scholars' of the College Department of Hindu College were transferred to Presidency College and 101 new students were freshly admitted. Of these 101 pupils, two were Muslims, while the rest were Hindus.

Initially, the Civil Engineering College and Medical College, that were located nearby, were associated with Presidency College. However, when the University of Calcutta opened near-by, the Council of Education placed plans on hold for allowing the expansion of the these three premier institutions into a full-fledged university. The college was formally placed under the control of the University of Calcutta in 1857.

Expansion of Presidency[edit]

The college continued to grow rapidly after its renaming and relocation. The Legal Branch was given a measure of autonomy: its students were subject to examination held by the branch itself.

The College authorities were faced with space shortage even after the expansion of the Sanskrit College building. The process for acquisition of land for building a separate building and grounds started in September 1865 and in 1870 the principal of the college submitted a plan for the construction of a new building on the premises where it is now located. The new building was opened on March 31, 1874 by the then Lieutenant Governor Sir George Campbell in the presence of His Excellency, the Viceroy of India. The finishing touch was given by Babu Nuffer Chandra Pal Chaudhuri, who provided it with a turret clock, at a cost of nearly Rs. 5000 soon after the new building's inauguration. Professor J. Sutcliffe was the principal of the college when the new building was opened.

The construction of the new building was beneficial for the science departments which now had adequate space for holding classes and carrying out laboratory work.

In 1897 the college admitted female students for the first time.

Presidency during the Indian freedom struggle[edit]

In 1916 the Oaten Affair closed down the College for days and forced the President to step down. Subhas Chandra Bose, then a student of the college, responding angrily to repeated racial insults made by Professor Oaten to the Indian students, is alleged to have hit the professor with his shoe behind the main building's staircase.

Professor Ahmed Ali, the co-founder of the Indian Progressive Writers' Movement and Association (1933–36) and author of the famous Twilight in Delhi was the first Indian to be appointed Head of the English Department in 1944 up to 1947 when India was divided. From the 1920s to the end of the 1940s the college remained an important centre of nationalist activities. Throughout this period the college continued to enjoy a great deal of popularity and prestige in bhadralok society.

Presidency after independence[edit]

The college's continued presence in Bengal's higher education was evident in its predominance as an undergraduate and postgraduate institution even at the time of India's independence. Before 1947 and soon after, especially in the 1950s the college was still the numero uno of Indian education. Anybody who was somebody in India had to be a student of this college. In 1956 the centenary celebrations of the college were organised. The building in which the Economics, Political Science and Sociology departments and the Derozio Hall are located was built during the centenary celebrations under the stewardship of the then principal, Professor J.C. Sengupta.

In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s the college became a centre of leftist and then far-left politics. Through the 1970s and 1980s the college fought off repeated attempts to control it from outside, especially by the government as well as dominant political parties. An important change that was brought to the college in the post-independence period includes the appointment of Mamata Roy as the first woman principal of the college in 2005.

Becoming a university[edit]

In 1972, an unsigned article was released by the faculty members of the college demanding that the college should be given full university status. It is an open secret that the author of the article was Prof. Dipak Banerjee, the legendary economics professor of the college. The state government, then under the chief ministership of Siddhartha Shankar Ray, showed the willingness to listen to the demands of the faculty members, but it was still too early to grant full autonomy to the college. In 2007, the state government, under the chief ministership of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Higher Education ministership of Sudarshan Raychaudhuri, appointed a seven member committee, under the leadership of Justice Chittotosh Mookerjee, and composed of Prof. Ashes Prasad Mitra, Prof. Barun De, Dr. Bimal Jalan and Prof. Subimal Sen, to look into the possibility of upgrading the status of the college. The report of the committee suggested that the state government should grant the college partial autonomy.

In 2009, the Governing Body of the college unanimosuly adopted the proposal that the college should be given full university status. On 16 December 2009, the Left Front government tabled a Bill, entitled the Presidency University Act, 2009, in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly which granted the college full university status. It was stated in the Bill that once the college becomes a full state-aided university it will be renamed Presidency University.

On 19 March 2010 a new chapter was opened in the history of the college when the West Bengal Government passed the Presidency University Bill, 2009 in the State Legislative Assembly.[2] On 7 July 2010, the governor of West Bengal, M K Narayanan gave his assent to the Presidency University Bill.[4] On 23 July 2010, the Government of West Bengal published the gazette notification completing all the legal formalities for Presidency to become a full university.[5] Prof. Amiya Bagchi was given the responsibility of chairing a committee set up to select and appoint the first vice chancellor of the university. Prof. Amita Chatterjee, a retired professor of philosophy at Jadavpur University, was appointed as the first vice-chancellor of Presidency University on 5 October 2010.[6]

In 2011, Higher Education Minister, Bratya Basu suggested that a mentor group, along the lines of the Nalanda mentor group, would be formed to oversee the work of the university. At the beginning of June 2011, the chief minister of West Bengal, Km. Mamata Banerjee, announced that a committee would be formed with Prof. Amartya Sen as its chief mentor, and Harvard-based Prof. Sugata Bose as its chairman to oversee the running of the college and perform the task of appointing all its officials and faculty members. The Presidency Mentor group [7] also includes as its members Prof. Abhijit Banerjee, Prof. Ashoke Sen, Prof. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Prof. Nayanjot Lahiri, Prof. Himadri Pakrashi, Prof. Rahul Mukerjee and Dr. Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Prof. Swapan Kumar Chakravorty. Prof. Sukanta Chaudhuri resigned from the committee in 2012.[8]

The new logo of the Presidency University has been created by Sabyasachi Dutta (সব্যসাচী দত্ত) as reported in a letter to the Editor of Anandabazar Patrika on April 1, 2013.


The main entrance of the university at College Street.
The Main Building Corridor

The campus of the university was gradually developed through the last quarter of the nineteenth and first quarter of the twentieth centuries. The main building was built in 1875. The clock tower on top of the main building was built towards the end of the nineteenth century. The building in which the science departments, including the Baker Laboratory and the Physics Lecture Theatre are located, was built in 1913. Until 1956, the college's centenary year, the main playing field was accompanied by lawn tennis courts. Later space was made for the construction of a new building which now houses some social science departments and the Derozio Hall, which is the auditorium of the university. In the late 1980s and early 1990s one smaller building was built in one corner of the grounds to make space for more departmental work. After the upgrading of the college to the status of a university, the university administration built a new library wing, in one corner of the premises, behind the playing field, which closely resembles the architectural style of the main building and the science wing of the university. The quadrangle inside the main building now has a well maintained garden, and a lift has been installed in the building.

Across Peary Charan Sarkar Street, a side road which separate the university from the Calcutta University, stands the Eden Hindu Hostel, which was built in early twentieth century. This hostel is famous not only for its association with Presidency College, but now has a history of its own. Some of the most eminent men of eastern India, such as Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, and Professor Sukhomoy Chakrabarty, Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India, have lived in this hostel when they were students of Presidency College.

Academic departments[edit]

Bengali - Botany - Chemistry & Biochemistry - Economics -English - Geography - Geology - Hindi - History - Law - Mathematics - Molecular Biology & Genetics - Philosophy - Physics - Physiology - Political Science - Sociology -Statistics - Zoology-Biotechnology.

Department of Economics[edit]

It is one of the most illustrious departments of the college. Many former students and teachers of this department are internationally renowned. Some of them are: Amartya Sen, Bhabatosh Datta, Tapas Majumdar, Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Abhijit Banerjee, Amitava Bose, Asim Dasgupta, Amlan Datta, Dipankar Dasgupta, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Abhirup Sarkar, Alak Ghosh, Amit Mitra, Amit Bhaduri, Partha Sen, Anindya Sen, Arjun Kumar Sengupta, Ashok Rudra, Bhaskar Dutta, Bibek Debroy, Bimal Jalan, Debraj Ray, Dhires Bhattacharyya, Sundar Chatterjee, Dilip Mukherjee, Dipak Banerjee, Gautam Bose, Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Kalyan Sanyal, Mihir Kanti Rakshit, Mukul Majumdar, Pranab Bardhan, Ratan Lal Basu, Sanjit Bose, Satyen Sen, Souymen Sikdar, Partha Gangopadhyay, Sugata Marjit, Maitreesh Ghatak, Sambuddha Ghosh, Sukhamay Chakravarty, Sujoy Mookerjee,Sukanta Bhattacharya, Tapan Mitra. Noted film directors like Satyajit Ray, Srijit Mukherji used to be a student of this department.

Department of English[edit]

The history of English teaching at Presidency can be traced back to 1828, when it was known as Hindu College. Henry Louis Vivian Derozio was appointed Master of English Literature and History. The Department of English owes its distinct identity to the efforts of Principal H R James, who in 1909-10 separated the various disciplines in view of their specialized requirements. A long line of distinguished scholars and eminent teachers contributed to the Department's heritage. Among the luminaries were David Lester Richardson, C. H. Tawney, Hugh Melville Percival, F J Rowe, Monomohun Ghose, P C Ghosh, Srikumar Banerjee, Rabindra Kumar Das Gupta, S C Sengupta, Tarapada Mukherji and Taraknath Sen.

Among the most well-known departments in the country, Presidency has contributed several notable thinkers and critics from the English department: Ketaki Kushari Dyson, renowned poet, fiction writer and dramatist in Bengali and English, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Ahmed Ali, British Council Visiting Professor of English, The National Central University, Nanking, Jasodhara Bagchi, Former Chairperson, West Bengal Women's Commission, Calcutta, Swapan Kumar Chakravorty, Director-General, National Library, Kolkata, Sukanta Chaudhuri, Emeritus-Professor of English, Jadavpur University, Calcutta, Supriya Chaudhuri, Professor of English, Jadavpur University, Calcutta, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Former Professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, Calcutta, Peary Charan Sarkar, Former Headmaster, Hare School, Calcutta. Distinguished alumni also include Rajendra Prasad, former President of India, Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Humayun Kabir.

The department has traditionally been strong in canonical British literatures, American Studies, cultural studies, and postcolonial studies, making it among the most competitive programs in the country.

Department of Geology[edit]

Geology Department of Presidency College was founded in 1892. This was the first Geology department of India as well as in South-East Asia. Founded on July 17, 1892, it is the earliest independent department of teaching and learning geology in any educational institution in India with only the Madras Presidency College teaching geology earlier, albeit as a part of its courses of the Botany Department.

The Department has a long tradition of teaching and research in geology. The notable alumni of this department includes several renowned Indian geologists in both academia and industry in India as well as abroad.

Among various distinguished alumni of the department, Hem Chandra Dasgupta, Santosh Kumar Ray, Nirmal Nath Chatterjee, Abani Kumar Dey, Sib Sundar Deb, Ajit Kumar Saha, Ajit Kumar Banerjee, Mihir Kumar Bose, Subir Kumar Ghosh, Dhrubajyoti Mukhopadhyay, M.N. Ghosh, Sarat Chandra Roy Choudhury, Sanjib Kumar Biswas, Gopal Chandra Chatterjee, Bhabesh Chandra Roy are notable.

Department of History[edit]

This is one of the most notable departments of the college. Some of its eminent students and teachers in the first half of the 20th century include Hem Chandra Raychaudhuri, Kiran Shankar Ray, a former Home Minister of West Bengal, Kuruvilla Zachariah, a legendary professor of history of the college, Susobhan Chandra Sarkar, Hirendranath Mukherjee, a firebrand communist leader and former member of parliament, Amalesh Tripathi, an eminent historian, Pratap Chandra Chunder, Pratap Chandra Sen, a former managing director of Martin Burn and Tapan Raychaudhuri. Eminent students and teachers of the department in the second half of the 20th century include Mohit Sen, Sipra Sarkar, a highly respected professor of history at Jadavpur University, Ashin Dasgupta, a former vice chancellor of Viswa Bharati, Santiniketan, Hirendranath Chakrabarty, a former curator of the Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta, Parthasarathi Gupta, a former professor of History of Delhi University, Benoy Bhushan Chaudhuri, a former professor of history of Calcutta University, Nitish Sengupta, Barun De, Sumit Sarkar, Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, a former chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research, Delhi, Rajat Kanta Ray, Suranjan Das, the vice chancellor of Calcutta University and Sugata Bose. The department has a Seminar Library of its own with a seminar secretary and a seminar librarian elected by the students of the department from amongst themselves. In 1990, a lecture series entitled P.C. Sen Memorial Lecture, named after Pratap Chandra Sen, another former student of the department, was started with an endowment given by the members of his family. In 2004, Gopal Krishna Gandhi, the then Governor of West Bengal, attended a class taken by Rajat Kanta Ray.

Department of Mathematics[edit]

This department, since the inception of the Hindu College in 1817 has produced brilliant teachers and excellent students. The Department runs undergraduate (40 seats) and postgraduate courses (as constituent college under the University of Calcutta) (2 seats).[9] Once most prestigious course to adhere in India was Presidency College Mathematics. This is comparatively small department providing the base to all other department from early age of the college. Most notable student of this department was Satyendra Nath Bose, Rai Bahadur Sarada Prasanna Das who was also an I.E.S, he also achieved P.R.S, duff scholar, ISHAN scholar, GWALIOR medal etc.

Department of Law[edit]

The college until the beginning of the 20th century had a separate Department of Law. This was not one of its original departments, but as mentioned above it had been started soon after the inception of Hindu College. Two of its more prominent students were Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and HH Maharaja Nripendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur of Coochbehar.

Department of Physics[edit]

This department is one of the best known departments of the college. The department has had as students or as teachers several eminent people, including Jagadish Chandra Bose, Satyendra Nath Bose, Dr. Meghnad Saha, Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri, Bikash Sinha and Ashoke Sen. The Baker Laboratory and the Physics Lecture Theatre, in the majestic new building built in 1913 are two of the most famous features of the college. Since 2004 the department started an autonomous post-graduate course in physics recognised by Calcutta University. Earlier, the department's course in post graduate studies was carried out at the University College of Science and Technology of Calcutta University in Rajabazar. On 27 February 2009, the department organized a one-day symposium on the 150th birth anniversary of Sir J.C. Bose.

The head of the department is astrophysicist Dr. Somak Raychaudhury

Department of Physiology[edit]

This department was founded in 1900. The first phase of the development of this department which coincided with the founding of physiology as a discipline in India took place between 1900 and 1913. Subodh Chandra Mahalanobis returned to India from England in 1900 and joined the Bengal Education Service. He was posted at Presidency College as the Head of the Department of Biology, which was at that time composed of Human Physiology and Botany, in the same year. In 1902, study of Human Physiology started as a separate course at this college, which was officially recognized in 1903 by the University of Calcutta. On the Founders’ Day, 20 January 1913, the new building for science subjects, later named as Baker Laboratories, was formally inaugurated and the Department of Human Physiology was shifted to the second floor of the new building. In 1915, the Calcutta University started the M.Sc. in Human Physiology in this department. In 1923, during the tenure of Dr. N.M.Basu as Head of the Department, E. H. Starling visited this department. In 1939, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, as Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, convened a historic meeting and passed two important resolutions in favour of this department: (a) PG teaching in Physiology at Presidency College should continue as before; and (b) the university should not open Honours course in Physiology as this was running at its best at Presidency College. In 1944, Sir A.V. Hill visited the department. From 1947 to 1959, the department was guided under the able stewardship of Prof. Sachchidananda Banerjee, the first D.Sc. in Physiology from Calcutta University. In 1960, Dr. Achintya Kumar Mukherjee joined as Professor and Head of Department. Dr. Haripada Chattopadhyay worked as an interim Head of Department from 1984-1987. In 1988, Dr. Chandan Mitra joined as Professor and Head of Department. In 2001, the department celebrated 100 years of UG teaching. The Centenary Postgraduate Wing was inaugurated during that celebration and in the same year the department was affiliated for independent postgraduate teaching by Calcutta University. In 2004, the department was given full academic autonomy for postgraduate teaching. The department organized The XVIII Annual Conference of the Physiological Society of India between 8–10 December 2006.

Department of Political Science[edit]

This department emerged from the Department of Economics and is in the early 21st century one of the finest departments of Political Science in India. A creation of the second half of the 20th century, it already boasts of an alumus which is world famous. Among its ex-students are Sudipta Kaviraj, both extremely well known in Indian political studies. Yet another student was Amal Mukhopadhyaya, who was a Professor and Head of this department and also one of the better known Principals of the college at the time of its 175th birth anniversary.The department celebrated yet another milestone on 12 March 2011 for its completion of 50 glorious years of existence.

Department of Statistics[edit]

Department of Statistics was established by Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in the decade of the 1940s to cater under graduation studies in Statistics. The department is the oldest among its counterparts in this country and is the pioneering department in introducing Statistics as a separate and distinct descipline of study at under graduation level. From the inception, it has always been one of the premier undergrad statistics departments in the country.

Through the second half of the 20th century, the department grew in stature under the tutelage of Professor A. Bhattacharya and Professor Atindra Mohan Gun. Some of its famous alumni include Jayanta Kumar Ghosh, Pranab K. Sen, Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, Malay Ghosh, Rahul Mukerjee, Bani K Mallick and the 2011 Mortimer Spiegelman award winner Sudipto Banerjee among others.

Department of Zoology[edit]

It is one of the best departments in the college with a rich museum and well equipped laboratories. It has both postgraduate and undergraduate courses. Research fellows are also recruited through various examinations. The department was built by Sibatosh Mookerjee. The present Head of Department is Sri. Souryadeep Mukherjee. The department has a good teacher-student ratio. Well-equipped laboratories, rich faculties and educational excellence are the three main characteristics of this department. It has a Central Computer Room with ultra-modern servers, a rich-with-books Seminar Library and an state-of-the-art laboratory for modern researches. All forms of modern biochemical and biotechnological researches can be done in these laboratories.

Department of Botany[edit]

One of the oldest Department in Presidency College, Situated at the Baker Laboratories Building. The department is headed by Prof. Madhubrata Chowdhury and he is assisted by a team of professors. The department consists of three general laboratories of enormous facilities and private laboratories of the respective professors. It was once known to be the best department in the botanical field in Asia.Template:Ch Renowned botanists have passed from this department. The department has its own library along with a general computer lab which is solely for students' use. Acharya Subodh Chandra Mahalanobis with the co-operation of the then Lieutenant Governor of Bengal Sir John Woodburn established the Department of Botany at Presidency College, Kolkata in the year 1900. Since then the department is offering Botany Honours course. It is also a matter of great pride that the University of Calcutta started their Postgraduate course in this department in the year 1912 and continued up to 1918 and was reintroduced jointly from 1952. At the onset of the new millennium (2001-2002) the department was permitted to start Independent Postgraduate course in Botany and within couple of years (2004-05) granted Postgraduate Academic Autonomy. With the beginning of the new era the department has completely revised and upgraded the syllabus of M.Sc. Botany and introduced the new syllabus from the 05-06 academic session giving emphasis on the current trends and recent advancements in Plant Sciences. Continuous assessment system in practical papers, students’ seminar and grand viva are some important features of the newly introduced PG syllabus. PG syllabus has been revised once again towards more modernization. With the up-gradation of the Presidency College to the Presidency University in the year 2010, the department introduced Semester system with new revised syllabus at the UG and PG level from the academic session 2011-12. Since 2003 the Department of Botany is enlisted as a “DST-FIST SPONSORED DEPARTMENT” by the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, and received successive grants of Rs. 35 lakhs for the first phase (2003-2008) and nearly 65 lakhs for the second phase (2009-2013). This grant has helped us immensely to strengthen our teaching and research both at the Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels. One of the main attractions of this department is its herbarium collection. Plant specimens as old as from 1920s are preserved in the herbarium of this department. Besides the antique herbarium specimens this department also has a museum featuring the antique instruments used by Acharya J.C.Bose. From the very beginning the Department Of Botany had witness an array of great botanists from all over the India who flourished in every field of Botany. This department provides special papers in Plant Pathology, Palaeobotany, Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Microbiology, Plant Biotechnology, Cell Biology and Genetics, Cell and Molecular Biology under the PG curriculum of its syllabus. From the year 2013 this department had been merged along with the Department of Zoology, Department of Physiology, Department od biochemistry and Department of Biotechnology to form the Department of Biological Sciences (DBS) which is headed by Prof. Madhubrata Chowdhury. The formation of DBS initiate new era of interdisciplinary research in the field of biological sciences.

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry[edit]

The department of chemistry is situated at the Derozio Building of the university. This department is headed by Professor Gandhi Kumar Kar. This department started in earlier Presidency College in the mid-19th century. There are 52 seats (42 in B.Sc. Chemistry and 10 in B. Sc. Biochemistry programs) in the three-year undergraduate courses and few lesser seats in two-year chemistry post graduate course. The biochemistry program is run with the kind assistance of Department of Biotechnology of the University. The admission to undergraduate courses is in particular, very competitive and attracts the best talents in India. Legendary scientist Prafulla Chandra Roy was an associate professor in this department in the late 1900s.

As of 2010, there were 18 full-time faculty members in this department. The department is in transition, like the university. A major fire in 2010 gutted the organic section of the department causing significant damages.[10] In spite of lacking advanced research facilities and a shortage of finances, its students continue to perform. The department boasts of phenomenal success rate in IIT-JAM examinations (for M.Sc. in Chemistry) and has a strong alumni of eminent chemists all over the world. In particular, its undergraduates have been placed in some of the best institutes in the world for doctoral studies such Stanford University, Yale University, MIT, Purdue University, University of Arizona, SUNY, Texas A&M, Arizona State University, Iowa State University, University of Minnesota etc. in US as well as in institutes in Germany and Singapore.

Institutions that were started in Presidency[edit]

This college, being the oldest educational institution in the country, boasts of a number of prestigious institutions of primary, secondary and higher learning that were started under its aegis.

The Hindu School, initially the pathshala wing of Hindu College, was the college's school when it was established, although it is now independent. The Hare School has been from the middle of the 19th century located inside the premises of the college and has been traditionally associated with it. Its students used to complete their higher education in this college in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A large majority of the students of these two schools came from the landed aristocracy and the urban upper middle classes. The importance of these two schools is evident in a verse written by Phani Bhushan Chakrabarty, a former student of the college and the first Indian Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court. He wrote: Prathom jakhon collegey elam/Bollam bahabaharey/Aschi hotey Hindu-Hare/Koriney care kaharey (When I first came to college,/I said, "Oh! Wow,/Have come from Hindu-Hare,/Don't care for the high-brow).

The Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta was founded in the Statistical Laboratory of this college by Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in 1931.


The college was administered on a daily basis by a principal, a burser, a deputy controller of examinations and the respective heads of departments. The University is now administered by the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar, The Dean of Students' affairs, the Controller of Examinations and the respective Heads of the Departments. It offers several scholarships to meritorious students, such as B.C.Law Free Studentship (185), Book Prizes (50), Cash Prizes (33), FAEA Scholarships (5), Hindi Scholarship (6), Hostel Stipend (14), Lump Grant (9), Medals (19), National Scholarship (14), Presidency College Graduate Scholarships (6), T.S.Sterling Onetime Grant (17), T.S.Sterling Scholarships (16).

Halls of residence[edit]

The college has two halls of residence, one each for boys and girls. The boys hostel is the famous Eden Hindu Hostel, which was started in 1886. It started functioning fully from 1895-96. It stands on Peary Charan Sarkar Street, which separates the college's premises to the south from the hostel, which is next to the central premises of the University of Calcutta, called the Ashutosh Shiksha Prangan, that includes the Ashutosh Building and Darbhanga Building. After 1990, the college administration also built a girls' hostel in Salt Lake in Calcutta.

Extra-curricular activities[edit]

Students' Union[edit]

The Students' Union room is located behind the main building. The Union has been active since the first half of the 20th century. It is run by a President and a General Secretary.

It plays a constructive role in the day-to-day running of the students' affairs. It is pertinent to note that the Union has always been controlled by elected students' groups that seek to challenge and question policies framed and actions taken by the establishment, both inside and outside the college, especially at the state level. In the first decade after independence, when the college was starting off as a centre of excellence, wholly managed by Indians, and more specifically by Bengalis, the Union was firmly in the hands of forces not always friendly towards the Student's Federation (SF). From the 1960s until the end of the 1980s, the Union was controlled by the Marxist-Leninists. After a brief period of students' apathy and indifference towards politics in the late 1980s, the Union, in 1989, came under the control of a loosely formed platform called Independents' Consolidation (IC), formed by an assortment of progressive democratic elements, which does not owe allegiance to any mother-party. Barring a brief spell of a few years at the end of the last century and the beginning of this century, the IC has kept control of the student body. The Union was under the control of SFI during the session 2009-2010. From the 2010-2011 session onward, the students' election has not been held in the newly formed university, and the students' union is now officially defunct. However the Elections took place on January 31, 2014 and Independent Consolidation won all the seats in Union Election, clean sweeping the SFI.[11]


The college has a long history of excellence in sports, especially in cricket and lawn tennis. Until date it has a strong cricket team. Until the mid-1950s the college used to have a lawn tennis court to the west of the premises, which was later replaced by the new building housing the economics, political science and sociology departments as well the college's auditorium, Derozio Hall. Until the mid-20th century the college's sporting facilities were managed and maintained by a Sports Secretary elected from the student body. There is a table tennis board in the Junior Common Room of the college on the ground floor and a badminton court in a room close to the Student's Union Room.

The college has a long association with Mohun Bagan AC, the first Bengali football club, whose history is closely linked to the rise of the Indian national movement. One of the preliminary matches played by Mohun Bagan was against Eden Hindu Hostel's team. Some students of the college who had joined this club earlier invited F.J. Row, a grammatologist, to visit the club ground, then at Mohun Bagan Villa, on the day it was founded, 15 August 1889. At this occasion Row suggested that the Club could be called 'Athletic', due to its excellent infrastructural facilities.

In the 1970s the college organised a past vs. present cricket match, where Siddhartha Shankar Ray played for the former students of the college.

Cultural events[edit]

Presidency has an annual festival organised by the students union called the 'Milieu' which hosts events in which students of all other colleges and universities of West Bengal participate. The festival includes a wide variety of activities such as outdoor sports and literary events including debates and quizzes.


The college always had a great tradition of debates. Amartya Sen's first lecture entitled 'Bigyaponer Arthoniti' ('The Economics of Advertisement') was delivered at a debate organised by the Student's Union, when the Debate Secretary of the college was Barun De, soon after Sen joined the college in 1951.

The Presidency University Public Speaking Society conducts debates on campus and organizes the Derozio Memorial Debate annually.


The college also has a students' canteen situated at the back of the main building, beyond the Students' Union room and next to the badminton court. In the 1940s the college's canteen was called "Ray Babur Canteen". A decade later in the 1950s the students of the college frequently visited the neighbouring coffee house, on the lane that is now called Bankim Chatterjee Street, which soon became a hub of both academic and political activities and discussions and is now famous for its debates. Several eminent academics of the second half of the 20th century, many of whom joined the government and/or have or still are teaching in the finest world universities were regulars at the Coffee House. Later, in the last quarter of the 20th century, the students of the college began to return to the college's canteen, which has been run by Pramodda since the 1980s and is now called "Pramoddar Canteen". Early in 2013, a new canteen was opened beside the Netaji Subhas Building of the university which seems to gain more and more popularity among the students. A new canteen called '86' has also opened up in December 2013 beside the union room of the University.

Building and grounds[edit]

Memorial Plaque of Ram Eqbal Singh
A part of the university.

The entrance of the campus is marked with a small guard house on the left. On the walls of the guard room is a plaque dedicated to durwan (guard) Ram Eqbal Singh, who died defending the institute from the rioters.[12] It reads

The main building, housing the English, History, Geography, Bengali and Philosophy Departments of the college, which also has a clock tower, was built in the 19th century and is representative of the architecture of the middle of that century. It has a quadrangle in the middle, next to the central library of the college which is located on the ground floor. The science building, which has the Physics Lecture Theatre in it, is situated to the south of the college premises and opens out on to Peary Charan Sarkar Street. It was built in 1913. The new building housing the Economics, Political Science and Sociology Departments and the Derozio Hall was built in 1956, while the newest building built to the west of the main building for the holding of post-graduate classes, was built in 1990.


Alumni association[edit]

The college has an active alumni association.[13] It works from within the main building of the college. Some of the eminent past Presidents of the Association were Radhabinod Pal and Pratap Chandra Chunder. Dr. Shyamaprasad Mookherjee was a past Vice President of the Association. The Association publishes a yearly journal entitled the 'Autumn Annual'. Professor Subodh Chandra Sengupta was the longest serving editor-in-chief of the journal.

Notable alumni[edit]

Until the middle of the 20th century this college was widely considered to be the very best in higher education in the country. In the second half of the 20th century it can still claim to be among the top five colleges in the country and is clearly still the most famous of all the Indian colleges. That the college continues to be the alma mater of eminent professionals, including senior politicians and industrialists, who are still working gives evidence of its relevance today and also shows that it is still at the height of its powers. Students of this college have continued to be awarded all the major scholarships, such as the Rhodes Scholarship, the Commonwealth Scholarship, Inlaks Scholarship, Radhakrishnan Scholarship and Government of India and State Scholarship and the Fulbright Nehru Visiting Fellowships to study and/or teach in universities in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

In politics, it has amongst its students, some of the biggest names of the Indian national movement, such as five Presidents of the Indian National Congress, including Surendranath Banerjea, Romesh Chunder Dutt, Bhupendra Nath Bose, Lord Satyendra Prasanno Sinha and Subhas Chandra Bose. The first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad studied in this college. The Speaker of the Indian Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee was a student of this college. The first President of Bangladesh, Abu Sayeed Chowdhury and another President of Bangladesh, Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem also studied in this college. The college has had one Governor of an Indian state, Chandeshwar Prasad Narayan Singh, as its student as well. Since elections were first held in Indian provinces in 1937, and after independence, it has had three Prime Ministers, one each of Pakistan, Bengal and Assam, five Chief Ministers of West Bengal and one Chief Minister of Assam as its former students. They are the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Bogra, first Prime Minister of Bengal, A.K. Fazlul Huq, the first Prime Minister of Assam, Saiyid Mohammed Saadullah, the first and second Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Prafulla Chandra Ghosh and Dr. Bidhan Chandra Ray, later Chief Ministers of the same state, Siddhartha Shankar Ray, Jyoti Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and the second Chief Minister of Assam, Bishnu Ram Medhi. The first Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Anugrah Narayan Sinha was a student of this college. The college has had as its students a host of other politicians including central and state level ministers.

Scions of former Indian Princely States and substantial landholding families also studied in this college, such as the former Maharaja of Coochbehar, HH Maharaja Nripendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur and the former Maharaja of Burdwan, Maharaja Uday Chand Mahtab. Other zamindari families from where boys came to study in this college included Burdwan, Susanga, Cossimbazar, Natore, Gouripur, Kalipur, Jhargram, Kirtipasha, and Teota in Bengal, Gauripur in Assam and Sonepur and Jarasingha in Odisha.

There are several senior judges, such as the first Indian judge of the High Court of Calcutta, Gooroodas Banerjee and Chief Justice of India, Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, Justice Sabyasachi Mukharji and Justice Altamas Kabir, who were students of this college. Several senior civilians, such as the first Indian member of the Indian Civil Service, Satyendranath Tagore and the first ICS and graduate from Assam Anandaram Baruah studied here.

This college has also performed equally well in industry. Rajen Mookerjee was its student and Basant Kumar Birla and Rama Prasad Goenka also studied in this college.

The college started with the expressed objective of encouraging boys of landed and aristocratic families of the Bengal Presidency to join it, but has also traditionally attracted extremely meritorious students from district schools and colleges to it since the 19th century. It has the distinction of being the college where Academy Award winner Satyajit Ray and the Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen studied in the same Department- the Department of Economics. Rabindranath Tagore was admitted into the college, but spent only one day there. Eminent scientists and mathematicians include Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, who pioneered the investigation of radio and microwave optics and laid the foundations of experimental science in the Indian subcontinent. Physicists Satyendra Nath Bose (after whom Boson particles are named) and Meghnad Saha studied in this college. In literature, it has amongst its students such as Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, poets such as Michael Madhusudan Dutt and Jibanananda Das and eminent children's writer such as Sukumar Ray.

In the entertainment industry, especially in films and theatre, other than Satyajit Ray, this college can boast of figures such as Pramathesh Barua, Ashok Kumar and Aparna Sen.

Amongst eminent sportsmen, Vece Paes, a member of India's hockey team, studied in this college.

Presidency in film and fiction[edit]


  • Shei Somay (Those Days) by Sunil Gangopadhyaya, a novel on 19th century Bengali society, mentions the college.
  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, a novel about two brothers who come of age in the 1950s and 60s in the city of Calcutta. When one of the brothers becomes involved in the Naxalite movement in the late 1960s, their paths diverge and one of them goes to the United States and the other one stays behind to take part in the movement. The book is about the consequences of each of their choices, mentions the college.[14]



  1. ^ From Banglapedia
  2. ^ a b Our Bureau (2010-03-20). "The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Frontpage | CM beats Mamata to Presidency". Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  3. ^ This building is a historic one because Raja Ram Mohan Roy inaugurated his Brahma Sabha there and Reverend Alexander Duff of the Scottish Missionary Board started his educational establishment, the General Assembly's Institution there as well a few years later in 1830.
  4. ^ Presidency varsity bill gets governor's assent
  5. ^ Express News Service (2010-07-24). "Presidency University legal steps complete". Express India. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  6. ^ "The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Frontpage | Comfort factor confines Presidency to home pool". 2010-10-06. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  7. ^ "Presidency Mentor Group". Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Sukanta Chaudhuri quits". Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  9. ^[dead link]
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ "IC wins all seats in Presi Univ students election". Retrieved February 1, 2014. 
  12. ^ Our Bureau (14 April 2013). "Presi guard-ian angel". The Telegraph, Calcutta. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  13. ^ [dead link] Presidency College Alumni Association
  14. ^ The Lowland

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°34′35″N 88°21′44″E / 22.57639°N 88.36222°E / 22.57639; 88.36222