St. Stephen's College, Delhi

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St Stephen's College, Delhi
St. Stephen's CollegeLogo
Motto Latin: Ad Dei Gloriam
English: To the Glory of God
Established 1881
Location University Enclave, New Delhi, India
Colours      Martyr's Red
     Cambridge Blue
Affiliations University of Delhi

St Stephen's College, Church of North India, is a Christian constituent college of the University of Delhi located in Delhi, India. It was established by the Cambridge Mission to India. The college admits both undergraduates and post-graduates, and awards degrees under the purview of the University. St Stephen's offers degrees in the liberal arts and the sciences.[1][2][3][4] The college has produced a long line of distinguished alumni, including several Member of Parliaments, and the Presidents of three countries.[5][6] Students and alumni of the college are termed Stephanians.

Nationwide surveys such as those by India Today and The Week have consistently described the college as amongst the best colleges in India for both arts and sciences.[7][8][9][10]


St Stephen's is a co-educational institution of higher learning located in University Enclave on the University of Delhi's 'North' campus. In spite of its location in North India, the college has always striven to admit students and select teachers from all communities and from all parts of India. It also admits a small number of students from overseas. The college was founded on 1 February 1881 by the members of the Cambridge Mission to Delhi, an Anglican mission organised from the alumni of Cambridge University under the auspices of Westcott House, theological college. It was initially affiliated to the University of Calcutta. In 1882, it was affiliated to University of the Punjab, Lahore. It later became one of three original constituent colleges of the University of Delhi when that institution was founded in 1922. The Rev Samuel Scott Allnutt was mainly responsible for founding the college and served as its first principal. Allnutt is buried by the chapel in the college's present campus. The anniversary of his death is observed as Founder's Day on 7 December every year.[11]

The college is currently situated on a large and well-known campus in North Delhi, designed by the distinguished Welsh architect Walter Sykes George, and completed in 1941. The college had previously functioned from a campus in Delhi's Kashmiri Gate, housed in distinctive Indo-Saracenic buildings. These now house some government offices. In fact, some college playing fields are still located between Kashmiri Gate & Mori Gate. In addition to its present academic buildings and halls of residence, the college is famous for its library, which also houses a collection of rare Sanskrit and Persian manuscripts. Facilities for a number of sports are provided for on the college campus. The Francis Monk gymnasium, the Ladies Common Room, and the Junior Common Room provide facilities for indoor sports and recreation. A chapel is open to all members for worship and meditation. The college has six Residences - blocks which allow around 500 men and women to reside on the premises. Student clubs and societies have always played an important role in the life of the college, and are seen as vital to student development. Each academic subject has a society which sponsors lectures and discussions. The popular extra-curricular societies and clubs engage in activities concerned with debating, dramatics, trekking, film, social service, photography, quizzing and astronomy. In continuance of a long tradition, societies - such as the Planning Forum, History Society, Gandhi Study Circle, Informal Discussion Group - regularly invite distinguished visitors to address and join issue with students on various topical issues.[11]

Residence blocks[edit]

The college's halls of residence are spread across six blocks, named for former principals. Each block is supervised by a member of the faculty functioning as Block Tutor. Originally only for male students (termed 'Scholars in Residence') half of these blocks are now allotted entirely to women students. Porters and other staff who work in Residence are referred to as 'gyps' and 'karamcharis' respectively.

  • Mukarji West
  • Mukarji East
  • Allnutt North
  • Allnutt South
  • Rudra North
  • Rudra South

College motto and colours[edit]

The College motto is Ad Dei Gloriam, Latin for To the Glory of God. The College colours are martyr's red and Cambridge blue.

The badge is a martyr's crown on a field of martyr's red, within a five-pointed star, edged with Cambridge blue. Around the five-pointed star, which represents India, is the Cambridge blue border, representing the impact of Cambridge University on the college, having been founded by the members of the Cambridge Mission to Delhi. On the ground, which is coloured red to represent Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr and patron saint of the Anglican mission in Delhi, in whose memory the College is built, stands the martyr's crown in gold.[11]


Founded in 1881 by the Cambridge Mission in response to a colonial government policy promoting English-language education in India, the College's first premises were in Chandni Chowk with 5 boarders and three professors, and was initially part of the University of Calcutta. After it changed its affiliation to Punjab University, Lahore, it moved into premises in Kashmiri Gate designed in the Indo-Saracenic style. These buildings are now occupied by the Election Commission for Delhi State.

The first mention of a St Stephen's College occurs in the report of the Delhi Mission of The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in 1864. This branch of the Society's work had been opened in 1854 at the instance of a chaplain of the East India Company, the Rev Midgley John Jennings. He was the chaplain of Delhi and was killed in the 1857 Uprising.

In the 1870s, Bishop Douglas of Bombay suggested that the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge send out men of high scholarship who would live in a religious community and work amongst the educated classes of India. His idea was carried into effect by members of Cambridge University and inspired by the Revds Hort, Lightfoot and Westcott. The enthusiasm and idealism of Westcott gave birth to the Cambridge Mission to Delhi.

With the 1867 closure of Government College in Delhi because of financial problems, the Bishop of Lahore, Dr French, immediately urged the Cambridge Mission to fill the breach. St Stephen's School already had permission to open classes to prepare students for the BA examination of Calcutta University. And so on 1 February 1881 university classes were begun and St Stephen's College came into existence.

The college was named after Saint Stephen, who was adopted by the Anglican church as the patron saint of Delhi after Christian converts were reportedly stoned to death during the 1857 uprising.[12] (As they were the first 'martyrs' in North India and were stoned, parallels to Stephen were obvious.)

In 1906, Principal Rev Hibbert-Ware abdicated his post in favour of Susil Kumar Rudra who became the first Indian to head a major educational institution in India. The decision was frowned upon at the time, and was the subject of scathing editorial comment in The Statesman daily published from Calcutta, but Principal Rudra proved to have a tenure of extraordinary importance for the college, as described below.

In 1920, it was decided to set up a University in Delhi and land was earmarked in the area where the Delhi Durbar of 1911 had been held. The University of the Punjab (at Lahore) received its charter more than one year after the founding of St Stephen's College which became one of the two institutions first affiliated to it. Six students of the College sat for the Intermediate Arts examination of the Calcutta University in 1882, and two students passed the Punjab and two the Calcutta FA examination in 1883. Women were first admitted in 1928, as there were no women's colleges in Delhi affiliated with the Anglican Church at the time; after the founding of Miranda House in 1949, women were not accepted as students until 1975.

Rev Charles Freer Andrews, a prominent lecturer at the College and member of the Cambridge Brotherhood, was active in the freedom struggle, and was named Deenbandhu (or, 'Friend of the Poor') by Mahatma Gandhi on account of his work with the needy and with the trade union movement. A portrait of C F Andrews by his good friend Rabindranath Tagore currently hangs in the Principal's office. It is believed that Tagore completed the English translation of Gitanjali, for which he was subsequently awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature, while a guest of the College.[12]

After independence in 1947 and for the next two decades, St Stephen's became particularly well known for the large number of academics, writers and prominent civil servants it produced.[13] In fact, at one point in the 1970s two-thirds of all secretary-level positions in the Indian Administrative Service were said to be occupied by Stephanians.[13] However, the college has produced many more alumni of distinction in various fields, especially with the beginning of the latter half of the 20th century. Eminent Stephanians may be found in any Indian roll call of - among other fields - politics, the media, literature (indeed, where a 'St Stephen's School of Literature' is sometimes made reference to), scientific research, industry, entertainment, the military and sports.[14]

The college is perhaps the only Indian institution that may count among its alumni the heads of state / government of three different countries: Dr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed of India, Gen Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan, and Salim Ahmed Salim of Tanzania and the OAU.

College principals[edit]

  • The Rev Samuel Scott Allnutt, Founder and first principal, 1881-1898.
  • John Wright, Second Principal. 1899-1902.
  • The Rev G Hibbert Ware, Third Principal. 1902-1906.
  • Susil Kumar Rudra, Fourth Principal. 1906-1923.
  • The Rev Francis Frank Monk, Fifth Principal. 1923-1926.
  • Satya Nand Mukarji, Sixth Principal. 1926-1945.
  • Douglas Raja Ram, Seventh Principal. 1945-1960.
  • Satish Chandra Sircar, Eighth Principal. 1960-1972.
  • The Rev William Shaw Rajpal, Ninth Principal, 1972-1984.
  • Dr John H Hala, Tenth Principal. 1984-1991.
  • Dr Anil Wilson, Eleventh Principal. 1991-2007.
  • The Rev Valson Thampu, Twelfth Principal. 2008–present.

College Scholarships and Awards[edit]

The College offers a number of scholarships and awards to meritorious students. These are endowed over a period of time.

Some of the scholarships and awards are:

  • Sanwa Bank Scholarships
  • Vikas Dhaka Scholarship
  • Sumitomo Scholarships
  • KPMG Scholarships
  • Stephanian Prize
  • Andrews Memorial Prize
  • Mukarji Memorial Prize
  • Centenary Prize

Recent controversies[edit]

In a contentious development in January 2007, Dr Anil Wilson was granted leave to serve as the Vice-Chancellor of Himachal University while remaining in the office of Principal.[15] In May 2007, Rev Valson Thampu, previously a lecturer at the College, was appointed "Officer on Special Duty" officiating as Principal.[16] Shortly thereafter, Dr Wilson requested early retirement from the University and expressed a desire to return.[17] On 5 February 2008, the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions upheld the contention of University of Delhi that Rev Thampu's appointment was "patently illegal."[18] The University of Delhi contended that since Thampu did not have a PhD degree - a requirement for appointment as Principal - he could not hold the office. Later, he acquired a PhD from Allahabad Agriculture Institute-Deemed University. Rev Thampu sought a stay on this order, but was refused by the Delhi High Court.[19] He resigned on 15 March 2008, but was subsequently re-appointed Principal by the Governing Body of the college a few months later.[20]

In June 2007, college administrators increased the preferential admissions quota for Christian applicants to 40% and set aside another 15% of the places for applicants from under-privileged backgrounds.[21] That St Stephens now allocates less than half of its 400-odd seats to open admissions is considered a notable development[22][23] in the politically-fraught debate on caste- and community-based affirmative action in India.

Academic department heads boycotted the first day of the 2008-09 academic year to protest another new policy setting aside positions for Christian faculty, a move seen by many as being part of the new dispensation's intention to impart a specific religious character to the famously secular institution.[24] This was done in conjunction with the new dispensation stating that they would enforce the 50% reservation for Christians in admitting students. While sanctioned by Indian law, St Stephen's being a 'minority' institution, the college traditionally reserved no more than 25% of available seats for meritorious Christian candidates. Much media speculation and criticism appears not to have deterred administrators from going ahead with the move.[25]



  1. ^ (2004-06-19). "Top Ten Colleges 2004". National Network of Education. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  2. ^ India Today (2000-06-19). "Top Ten Colleges 2000". India Today Group. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  3. ^ India Today (1998-06-07). "Top Ten Colleges 1998". India Today Group. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  4. ^ India Today (2005-06-13). "Top Ten Colleges 2005". India Today Group. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  5. ^ St. Stephen's College, Delhi (2000-08-01). "Distinguished Alumni". St. Stephen's College, Delhi. Archived from the original on 2006-09-03. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  6. ^ Tharoor, Shashi (2004-08-01). "Stephanians in Parliament". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  7. ^ <>
  8. ^ <>
  9. ^
  10. ^ <
  11. ^ a b c St. Stephen's College, Delhi (2000-06-19). "The College". St. Stephen's College. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  12. ^ a b Monk, Francis Fitzhugh: "A History of St. Stephen's College, Delhi", Calcutta YMCA, 1931
  13. ^ a b Mani Shankar Aiyar, "Mani-talk", Sunday, March 1998
  14. ^ Mehrotra, Arvind Krishna, An illustrated history of Indian literature in English, Orient Blackswan, 2003
  15. ^ Sarkar, Sonia (2007-01-20). "Time of India". The Times Of India. Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  16. ^ "The Hindu". Chennai, India. 2007-05-22. Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  17. ^ "Express India". Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  18. ^ "The Hindu". Chennai, India. 2008-02-05. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  19. ^ "New Delhi News : Court refuses stay". The Hindu. 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  20. ^ "The Hindu News Update Service". 2008-03-15. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  21. ^ "St. Stephen's increases admission quota". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2007-06-15. 
  22. ^ Stephen's goes for religious quota
  23. ^
  24. ^ "ABC Live". Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  25. ^ "For God's Sake". Retrieved 2009-05-26. 

External links[edit]