Scottish Church College

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Scottish Church College
Image of the campus
The campus
Motto Nec Tamen Consumebatur[1] (Latin)
Motto in English "Burning, but yet not consumed"
Established 1830: General Assembly's Institution
1843: Free Church Institution
1863: Duff College
1908: Scottish Churches College
1929: Scottish Church College
Type Government-aided Christian liberal arts college
Religious affiliation Church of North India
Academic affiliation University of Calcutta
Principal Dr. John Abraham
Students 2,000
Location Kolkata, West Bengal, India
22°32′54″N 88°21′21″E / 22.54837°N 88.35596°E / 22.54837; 88.35596Coordinates: 22°32′54″N 88°21′21″E / 22.54837°N 88.35596°E / 22.54837; 88.35596
Campus Urban
Athletics Track and field
Sports Badminton, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, and volleyball
Nickname The Caledonians
Scottish Church College.jpg

The Scottish Church College is the oldest continuously running Christian liberal arts and sciences college in India.[2][3] It is affiliated with the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (for the Scottish Church Collegiate School), the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education for the secondary school examinations, and with the University of Calcutta for degree courses for graduates and postgraduates.

A selective co-educational institution, it is known for its academic standards, and its intellectual milieu. Students and alumni call themselves "Caledonians" in the name of the college festival, "Caledonia".

The founder and institutional origins[edit]

Principals of General Assembly's Institution (1830–1908)
Principal of Free Church Institution (1843–63)
Principals of Duff College (1863–1908)
Principals of Scottish Churches College (1908–1929)
Principals of Scottish Church College (1929–present)

The institutional origins are traceable to the life of Alexander Duff (1806–1878), the first overseas missionary of the Church of Scotland, to India. Known initially as the General Assembly's Institution, it was founded on 13 July 1830.[4]

Alexander Duff

Alexander Duff was born on 25 April 1806, in Moulin, Perthshire, located in the Scottish countryside. He attended the University of St Andrews where after graduation, he opted for a missionary life.[4] Subsequently, he undertook his evangelical mission to India. In a voyage that involved two shipwrecks (first on the ship Lady Holland off Dassen Island, near Cape Town, and later on the ship Moira, near the Ganges delta) and the loss of his personal library consisting of 800 volumes (of which 40 survived), and college prizes, he arrived in Calcutta on 27 May 1830.[5][6]

Initially supported by the Governor-General of India Lord William Bentinck,[5] Rev. Alexander Duff opened his institution in Feringhi Kamal Bose's house, located in upper Chitpore Road, near Jorasanko. In 1836 the institution was moved to Gorachand Bysack's house at Garanhatta.[4] Mr. MacFarlon, the Chief-Magistrate of Calcutta, laid the foundation stone on 23 February 1837. Mr. John Gray, elected by Messrs. Burn & Co. and superintended by Captain John Thomson of the East India Company designed the building. It is possible that he may have been inspired by the facade of the Holy House of Mercy in Macau, which reflects the influence of Portuguese Renaissance and Mannerist and colonial architecture. Traces of English Palladianism are also evident in the design of the college. The construction of the building was completed in 1839.[4]

Historical context[edit]

In the early 1800s, under the regime of the East India Company, English education and Missionary activities were initially suspect.[4] While the East India Company supported Orientalist instruction in the vernacular languages like Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit, and helped to establish institutions like Calcutta Madrasah College, and Sanskrit College, in general, colonial administrative policy discouraged the dissemination of knowledge in their language, that is in English. The general apathy of the Company towards the cause of education and improvement of natives is in many ways, the background for the agency of missionaries like Duff.[7]

Inspired by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Reverend Alexander Duff, then a young missionary, arrived in India's colonial capital to set up an English-medium institution. Though Bengalis had shown some interest in the spread of Western education from the beginning of the 19th century, both the local church and government officers were skeptical about the high-caste Bengali's response to the idea of an English-medium institution.[4] While Orientalists like James Prinsep were supportive of the idea of vernacular education, Duff and prominent Indians like Raja Rammohun Roy supported the use of English as a medium of instruction.[4] His emphasis on the use of English on Indian soil was prophetic:

The English language, I repeat it, is the lever which, as the instrument of conveying the entire range of knowledge, is destined to move all Hindustan.[8]

Raja Ram Mohan Roy helped Duff by organizing the venue and bringing in the first batch of students. He also assured the guardians that reading the King James's Bible did not necessarily imply religious conversion, unless that was based on inner spiritual conviction. Imbibing the tenets of the Scottish educational system that shaped his ideals, Duff was, unlike the missionaries and scholars at the Serampore College, wholeheartedly committed to the cause of instruction in the English language, as that facilitated the advanced study of European religion, literature and science. By carefully selecting teachers, European and Indian, who brought out the best of Christian and secular understandings, and by emphasizing advanced pedagogical techniques that emphasized the Socratic method of classroom debate, inquiry, and rational thinking, Duff and his followers established an educational system, whose impact in spreading progressive values in contemporary Bengal would be profound.[9] Although his ultimate aim was the spread of English education, Duff was aware that a foreign language could not be mastered without command of the native language. Hence in his General Assembly's Institution (as later in his Free Church Institution), teaching and learning in the dominant vernacular Bengali language was also emphasized. Duff and his successors also underscored the necessity of sports among his students.[10] Interestingly, when he introduced political economy as a subject in the curricula, his faced his church's criticism.

The great social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy supported Reverend Duff in his efforts

In 1840, Duff returned to India. At the Disruption of 1843, Duff sided with the Free Church. He gave up the college buildings, with all their effects and established a new institution, called the Free Church Institution.[5] He had the support of Sir James Outram and Sir Henry Lawrence, and the encouragement of seeing a new band of converts, including several young men born of high caste. In 1844, governor-general Viscount Hardinge opened government appointments to all who had studied in institutions similar to Duff's institution. In the same year, Duff co-founded the Calcutta Review, of which he served as editor from 1845 to 1849. In 1857, when the University of Calcutta was established, the Free Church Institution was one of its earliest affiliates, and Duff would also serve in the university's first senate.[11] These two institutions founded by Duff, i.e., the General Assembly's Institution and the Free Church Institution would be merged later to form the Scottish Churches College. After the unification of the Church of Scotland in 1929, the institution would be known as Scottish Church College.[4]

Along with Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the great social reformer often called the father of modern India, Dr. Duff supported Lord Macaulay in drafting his influential Minute for the introduction of English education in India. Eminent contemporary and successive missionary scholars from Scotland, notably Dr. Ogilvie, Dr. Hastie,[12] Dr. Macdonald, Dr. Stephen, Dr. Watt, Dr. Urquhart contributed in spreading liberal Western education. The institutions founded by Duff have been coterminous with other contemporary institutions like the Serampore College, and the Hindu College in ushering the spirit of intellectual inquiry and a general acceptance of the ideals of the Enlightenment among Bengali Hindus, the then dominant indigenous ethno-linguistic group in the Company administered Indian territories. This exchange of ideas and ideals, and adoption of progressive values that would eventually influence many social reform movements in South Asia, has been widely regarded by historians specializing in nineteenth century India, as the epochs of the Young Bengal Movement and later, the Bengal Renaissance.[13]

Duff's contemporaries included Reverend Mackay, Reverend Ewart and Reverend Thomas Smith. Till the early 20th century the norm was to bring teachers from Scotland, and this brought forth scholars like William Spence Urquhart, Henry Stephen, H.M. Percival etc. Indian scholars were also engaged as teachers by the college authorities, and the notable faculty includes names like Surendranath Banerjea, Kalicharan Bandyopadhyay, Jnan Chandra Ghosh, Gouri Shankar Dey, Adhar Chandra Mukhopadhyay, Sushil Chandra Dutta, Mohimohan Basu, Sudhir Kumar Dasgupta, Nirmal Chandra Bhattacharya, Bholanath Mukhopadhyay and Kalidas Nag, all of whom had all contributed to enhancing the academic standards of the college.[13]

The college authorities played a pioneering role in promoting gender equality by emphasizing the significance of women's education. During much of the nineteenth century, the college remained the only institution of its kind in the city of Calcutta (and indeed in the country) to facilitate and actively promote the cause of co-education.[5][14] Female students comprise half the present roll strength of the college. With the added interest of the missionaries in educational work and social welfare, the college stands as a monument to Indo-Scottish co-operation. The aims of the college are those of its founder namely, the formation of character through education based on Christian teaching.

Current status and initiatives[edit]

  • Until 1953, administrative control over the college was exercised by the Foreign Mission Committee of the Church of Scotland. This was exercised by a local council consisting of representatives of the Church of Scotland and the United Church of Northern India. Later the Foreign Mission Committee of Church of Scotland relinquished its authority to the United Church of Northern India, and in 1970, the United Church of Northern India joined the Church of North India as a constituent body. This made the Church of North India the de facto and de jure successor (to the Church of Scotland) in running the administration of the college. As the college was founded on Christian (Protestant and Presbyterian) foundations, it derives its legal authority and status as a religious minority institution as defined by the scope of Article 30 of the Constitution of India.[4]
  • On 27 September 1980, the Indian Postal Service released a commemorative stamp on the college keeping in view its historical, cultural, and scientific heritage.[15][16]
  • In 2003, the college buildings and premises underwent renovation, with the financial support of the alumni and well-wishers.[15][17]
  • Since 2004, the college has been a member of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia and is a participant in that organization's Asian University Leadership Program.[19][20][4]
  • Since 2004, the college has been publishing annually the Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, an international refereed journal in the social sciences related sub-fields like liberalism, empiricism, Marxism, postmodernism, feminism, subaltern studies and postcolonialism.[13][15]

Scottish Church College in popular culture[edit]

In fiction[edit]

  • Satyajit Ray's fictional scientist-cum-investigator Professor Shonku started his career as a professor of physics at the Scottish Church College.

In cinema[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Social reformers and religious leaders[edit]

Freedom fighters and politicians[edit]


Scholars and academic administrators[edit]

Performing arts, theater and cinema[edit]

Writers, poets and journalists[edit]

Administrators and industrialists[edit]



  1. ^ Saint Columba's main doorway
  2. ^ Basu, Pradip. The Question of Colonial Modernity and Scottish Church College in 175th Year Commemoration Volume. Scottish Church College, April 2008. p.35.
  3. ^ Matilal, Anup. The Scottish Church College: A Brief Discourse on the Origins of an Institution in 175th Year Commemoration Volume. Scottish Church College, April 2008. pp.19-20.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Sen, Asit and John Abraham. Glimpses of college history, 2008 (1980). Retrieved on 3-10-2009
  5. ^ a b c d Pitlochry Church of Scotland's obituary of Alexander Duff
  6. ^ The missionary’s mission in Calcutta
  7. ^ Matilal, p. 17.
  8. ^ Basu, pp. 33-4.
  9. ^ Sardella, Ferdinando. Rise of Nondualism in Bengal in Modern Hindu Personalism: The History, Thought and Life of Bhaktisiddhanta. Oxford University Press, 2013. pp. 39-40.
  10. ^ Bandyopadhyay, Kausik. Games Ethic in Bengal: A Commentary on the sporting tradition of the Scottish Church College in 175th Year Commemoration Volume. Scottish Church College, April 2008. pp. 74-5.
  11. ^ A Tradition of Notable Firsts
  12. ^ Master visionary
  13. ^ a b c Basu, p. 35.
  14. ^ Manna, Mausumi, Women's Education through Co-Education: the Pioneering College in 175th Year Commemoration Volume. Scottish Church College, April 2008, page 107-116
  15. ^ a b c Photo Gallery in 175th Year Commemoration Volume. Scottish Church College, April 2008. pp. 559-61.
  16. ^ Postage stamp on Scottish Church College, Calcutta
  17. ^ Abraham, John. A Foreword in 175th Year Commemoration Volume. Scottish Church College, April 2008. p.4.
  18. ^ Abraham, p.6.
  19. ^ United Board Partner Institutions
  20. ^ Abraham, p.8.
  21. ^ Star tag on six colleges
  22. ^ Half in, half out in college tag race
  23. ^ Tagore drew inspiration from Scottish bard for his poem - article in the Times of India
  24. ^ Glasgow tie-up for CU - article in the Calcutta Telegraph
  25. ^ Sahitya Akademi Awards 1955-2007
  26. ^ Article in The Telegraph on the film Kaalbela
  27. ^ The death anniversary of Indian Football's first legend
  28. ^ Football scores at the box office in cricket-mad India
  29. ^ From the Brahmo Samaj website
  30. ^ "Mitra, Krishna Kumar (1852-1936)". Banglapedia: The National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  31. ^ Entertainment Homepage
  32. ^ International Society for Krishna Consciousness
  33. ^ Reflections around Swami Gambhirananda
  34. ^ Bisheshwor Prasad Koirala
  35. ^ Gopinath Bordoloi
  36. ^ 'Big cities have big problems'
  37. ^ B L Joshi sworn-in as new Meghalaya Governor
  38. ^ Panja, Ajit Kumar
  39. ^ Justice Amal Kumar Sarkar
  40. ^ Justice Subimal Chandra Roy
  41. ^ Justice Amarendra Nath Sen
  42. ^ Justice Anandamoy Bhattacharjee
  43. ^ Hon'ble Mr. Justice G.N. Ray
  44. ^ Justice Umesh Chandra Banerjee
  45. ^ Seal, (Acharya) Brajendra Nath
  46. ^ AnthroSource: Error
  47. ^ "Guha family wiki". Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  48. ^ Nirmal Kumar Bose - Scholar wanderer
  49. ^ Chanda, Ramaprasad
  50. ^ Chemistry alumni, Scottish Church College
  51. ^ BANGLAPEDIA: Bhaduri, Shishir Kumar
  52. ^ Padmabhusan Manna
  53. ^ A Cultural Colossus
  54. ^ Chasing the Truth: The Films of Mrinal Sen
  55. ^ Sen, Mrinal
  56. ^ Merchant of Dreams
  57. ^ "Eminent theatre actor Shyamanand Jalan dead". The Times of India. 25 May 2010. 
  58. ^ Mustard memories
  59. ^ Campus Buzz
  60. ^ A tale of two cities
  61. ^ Vita of Nirad Chaudhuri
  62. ^ Dutta, Satyendranath
  63. ^ Dutta, Sudhindranath
  64. ^ Sudhindranath Dutta (1901 - 1960)
  65. ^ Parvati Prasad Baruva
  66. ^ "People's poet of Bengal-Subhas Mukhopadhyay" By Dr Ashok K Choudhury
  67. ^ Bani Basu
  68. ^ Stranger than fiction
  69. ^ Meenakshi Mukherjee: Bani Basu's Novels
  70. ^ Gallerie
  71. ^ Mustafa Monwar: A legend of our times
  72. ^ Jagmohan Dalmiya: Cricket's face of change
  73. ^ Code Name Success
  74. ^ Photo News
  75. ^ Adventure of knowledge - Evelyn Norah Shullai
  76. ^ Gourgopal Ghosh (1893-1940)
  77. ^ (fitnessNEPAL/History)
  78. ^ "Encounter with a martyr’s daughter" By Sudha Shrestha
  79. ^ 'Unexpected' finish by Surya Sekhar
  80. ^ Ganguly, Surya Shekhar
  81. ^ Indian National Championship won by Surya Ganguly

External links[edit]