Six persons from the city’s radical and conservative sections united to lay the foundation of Presidency College (the Hindoo College) on January 20, 1817.
Two hundred years later, the President and a former Prime Minister will address the bicentenary celebrations of the institution that has blossomed into one of the finest undergraduate colleges with alumni that include heads of states, Nobel laureates, inventors, scholars and many others.
On Friday, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will address a gathering at Derozio Hall on the campus. About three hours later, President Pranab Mukherjee will also speak at the same venue.
The programmes actually began on January 5 with an exhibition at the main building.
On January 5, 6, 9, 10 and 11, a Global Education Summit was held to discuss the future of education in a number of fields from natural science to social science, mathematics to languages.
Participants included Nobel laureates and academics from a number of foreign universities.
What was known as Hindoo College till 1855, earned fame as Presidency College between 1855 and 2010, when it turned into a university during the Left rule.
For the past 200 years, Presidency College not only blossomed into one of the finest colleges in the country, but also contributed to one of the most remarkable eras in the subcontinent — the Bengal renaissance, which marked a simultaneous explosion creativity in a number of fields from arts to science.
Some of the most gifted and spirited minds of modern India such as Satyendranath Bose, Meghnad Saha, Subhas Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda, Satyajit Ray, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, Rajendra Prasad, Amartya Sen emerged from this institution.
According to most of its students and teachers, Presidency College stoked the spirit of inquiry.
“If the battle of Waterloo was fought on the playfields of Eton, then it could be said the struggle for modernity begun on the premises of Hindoo College, and it still continues in the classrooms of Presidency College,” former principal Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay said at the welcome address of the 175th anniversary celebrations.
From an A+ NAAC accreditation as a college in 2006, it suffered a downgrade to A as a university in 2016. The focus of vice-chancellor Anuradha Lohia is to retrieve some of its old glory. A second campus is under preparation, and will be the most important addition contribution in this direction.
“A series of programmes will mark the bicentenary celebrations that will conclude in December this year when we unveil the second campus at New Town,” said Anuradha Lohia.