Proposed 5 storey bldg in place of Wrangler Paranjpye’s bungalow will have mathematics and statistics department
On August 22, 2022, Wrangler Paranjpye’s iconic bungalow in Pune was demolished to make way for the proposed new building
The Deccan Education Society (DES) is planning a new, five-storeyed building offering learning in mathematics and statistics at the same place where Wrangler Paranjpye’s iconic bungalow stood till a few days ago off Fergusson college road. Wrangler Paranjpye aka Raghunath Purushottam Paranjpye was the first Indian to receive the coveted title of ‘Senior Wrangler’ at the University of Cambridge. On August 22, 2022, Wrangler Paranjpye’s iconic bungalow in Pune was demolished to make way for the proposed new building (academic institution) of the DES, to which the bungalow was legally bequeathed. At the time of the demolition itself, the DES made it clear that an academic complex would come up at the same place.
Sharad Kunte, chairman of the DES governing body, said that a five-storeyed building would be erected on the 15,000 square feet plot where the bungalow once stood. The building would retain the bungalow’s original name, ‘Purushottam Ashram’. “We are hoping for a better FSI since this is an educational building. The building will be constructed within the next one-and-a-half years, and the design will be finalised within the next six months,” Kunte said.
The proposed building, according to Kunte, will have new pedagogy courses apart from a laboratory. “It will also have a mathematics and statistics department for Masters’ students dedicated to Wrangler Paranjpye whose wish was to do something in the field of mathematics and statistics which is now in great demand. There will also be a permanent training centre in the new building,” Kunte said.
Dhananjay Kulkarni, secretary, DES, said, “There will be an academic complex offering new courses and also a mathematical study centre. The DES is planning to add new courses and we need additional space. The new structure will host these courses.”
While the demolition of the bungalow evoked widespread criticism with many reasoning that the bungalow was a heritage property, Kulkarni said, “It was necessary to demolish the bungalow before it completely crumbled as it was old.”
The DES expects over 2,000 students in the new premises, which is a stone’s throw away from Fergusson college. It was in 1907 that Wrangler Paranjpye became the first librarian of the Indian Mathematical Society at Fergusson college and was later promoted to principal, a position in which he served for two decades till 1926.
Who was Wrangler Paranjpye?
Raghunath Purushottam Paranjpye was born on February 16, 1876, at Murdi near Dapoli in the coastal Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. He studied at Maratha high school, Bombay; Fergusson college, Pune; and Bombay University before getting admission at St John’s college, Cambridge, in 1896.
He was the first Indian to receive the coveted title of ‘Senior Wrangler’ at the University of Cambridge. He completed his Bachelor of Arts (BA) as ‘Senior Wrangler’ in 1899 after which he completed his Masters in Arts (MA) in 1903. Paranjpye was elected a Fellow of St John’s college in November 1901 and stayed as such till 1907. However, he returned to India to become a professor of mathematics at Fergusson college, Pune, in 1902. One of the earliest Indian documentary film makers, H S Bhatavdekar, made a silent documentary film titled ‘Return of Wrangler Paranjpye (1902) and Delhi Durbar of Lord Curzon (1903)’ featuring R P Paranjpye.
In 1907, R P, as he was fondly known as, became the first librarian of the Indian Mathematical Society at Fergusson college. He became the college’s principal, a position in which he served for two decades till 1926. Subsequently, he became the vice-chancellor of Bombay University (1916-20) and the Indian Women’s University (1916-20) and a member of the Bombay Legislative Council. He also became the vice-chancellor of Lucknow University (1932-38). In 1921, the University of Calcutta awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree.