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Hallmark of tradition

The college’s alumni include Sir Chhotu Ram, the first Stephanian to be knighted; authors Amitav Ghosh and Khushwant Singh, and politician Shashi Tharoor

education Updated: Feb 17, 2010 09:12 IST
Craig Dominic Pinto

St Stephen’s was established by an Anglican mission from Westcott House, Cambridge, with founder Rev. Samuel Scott Allnutt also serving as its first principal. His death anniversary is observed as Founder’s Day on December 7 every year.

Though the college draws its inspiration from the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, it takes in students and teachers from all communities across India and overseas.
Infrastructure: The library has about 90,000 books and is famous for its collection of rare Sanskrit and Persian manuscripts.

Stephen’s is also the only DU college to have two seven-layered synthetic tennis courts. Other sports facilities include the Francis Monk gymnasium, where students play squash, badminton and table tennis; a basketball court and an Olympic-size football field complete with floodlights that will be utilised during the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

The cafe is the envy of students from other colleges. What’s in demand here? “It’s the cheese omelette, nimbu paani and mince cutlets,” says BA Honours student Saadgi Rajani.

Another interesting tidbit: There are reportedly 502 trees here — a fact first-year student Aastha Bhardawaj will attest to. She was, after all, made to count them by her seniors during a friendly ‘getting-to-know-you’ session (earlier known as ragging) when she joined up.

Famous for: Its long list of alumni includes Sir Chhotu Ram, the first Stephanian to be knighted; Amitav Ghosh, whose book, The Shadow Lines, won the Sahitya Akademi Award; Barkha Dutt, noted television journalist; Khushwant Singh, celebrated author; Shashi Tharoor, minister of state for external affairs; Sachin Pilot, minister of state for communications and information technology; Rahul Gandhi, general secretary, Indian National Congress; and Jaspal Rana, Asian Games gold medallist shooter.

Programmes: The college offers BA (Hons) degrees in English, economics, history, Sanskrit and philosophy and BSc (Hons) degrees in maths, physics and chemistry. Among postgraduate programmes, the college offers MA degrees in English, economics, history, Sanskrit, philosophy, maths, operations research and MSc in physics, chemistry, maths and operations research.

Extra-curricular activities: Student societies and clubs are very active here. Each department has its own society sponsoring lectures and discussions and trying to stimulate interest in the subject taught. Societies have also been set up for debating, dramatics, mountaineering, film and music appreciation, social service, photography, electronics and astronomy. The various events hosted by these bodies include ‘Integration’, the maths society fest, ‘Crosswinds’, the music fest, and ‘Harmony’, which includes games like tug-o-war and a karaoke night.

Stephanian secrets: First-year BA (H) student Jason Lall says, “Mukherjee West, the residential block next to the basketball court, is haunted. You can hear creepy voices emanating from there all the time.” Another secret: all the gates of St. Stephens College are locked after 10 pm, except one, the location of which is known only to Stephanians.

The 129-year-old St Stephen’s College is Delhi University’s oldest college, founded on February 1, 1881, by the Cambridge Mission to Delhi. It was affiliated to two other universities, Calcutta and then Punjab, before DU was established. It is hard to believe now that this premier institute was once located in two (rented) old Mughal style mansions in the bylanes off Chandni Chowk, opposite the present Central Bank Building. On December 8, 1891, the college moved to Kashmere Gate, close to the historic St James’ Church.

The college’s present location is in the University Enclave. It is an elegant two-storey red brick building around four spacious courts. It was one of DU’s three original constituent colleges — along with Hindu and Ramjas — when the university was established in 1922...