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Those famous arches

St Xavier's College, located in downtown Mumbai blends old glory, modern education with élan, writes Nazim Khan.
By Nazim Khan Nazim Khan | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAY 29, 2009 01:17 PM IST

St Xavier's College, located in downtown Mumbai, does not need an introduction. One of the city's oldest colleges and arguably its most iconic, the college, famed for its academic excellence, majestic Gothic structures and much more, has churned out success stories with unparalleled regularity.

In recent years, the college has repeatedly figured in and often topped the list of India's top colleges published in various newspapers and magazines. Its most famous courses include those in the stream of Arts and Science, but its recent Bachelor of Mass Media (BMM) and Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS) are quite popular as well, with prominent speakers from the industry coming to the campus to deliver guest lectures.

"Our college is committed to the all-round development of the student. What makes it stand out is the unique student-professor relationship that exists here," said Professor Fleur D'Souza, vice principal, Arts section. She also pointed out the various institutes that are unique to the college: the Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture, a specialised research and library and museum on Indian art and literature, and Blatter Herbarium, which has an incredibly huge collection of plants.

"What makes Xavier's stand out is the faculty, and the sheer energy that the campus exuberates," said Jharana Sheth, TYBA student. "The number of high-profile events that take place throughout the year are also something every Xavierite waits for."

The list of events is exhaustive. Janfest is a popular Indian classical music festival; Ithaka, a play-festival; Nostalgia, an alumni meet; and Malhar the wildly popular inter-collegiate festival in August, preparations for which are already underway with about 1,000 people busy to make it a success. The buzz around each of these will be stronger with the college celebrating its 140th year of inception and Malhar celebrating its 30th.

Students in the campus love to hang out in the foyer, the woods, the three quadrangles, canteen, and at the popular sandwich-wallah joint outside, not to mention the fleet of cars that dot the road outside.

If you're, however, one of those who spend more time outside the class rather than in it, you may want to take academics more seriously. For the college is quite strict with enforcing the university rule of 75 per cent minimum attendance.

St Xavier's College
5, Mahanagarpalika Marg, Dhobi Talao, Mumbai- 400001
Tel: 022-22620661/2/5
Website: www.xaviers.edu

The Past:
Founded by Society of Jesus in 1868 and named after a sixteenth-century saint Francis Xavier, the college started off with two students and has grown into a institution of renown. Today, it not only offers plus-two, undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral level courses, but also has under its umbrella institutes that offer specialised education in the fields of communication (Xavier's Institute of Communication), management (Xavier's Institute of Management and Research) and engineering (Xavier's Institute of Engineering at Mahim).

Best known for:
Its courses in Arts (undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree) and Malhar, the college festival.

Number of seats:
Arts: 330, Science: 330.
50 per cent is reserved for the Christian minority.

Last year's cut-off: 82.5 per cent for arts and 84 per cent for science

Alumni:
Sunil Gavaskar (cricketer), Charles Correa (architect) Soli Sorabjee (advocate), Alyque Padamsee (theatre personality and ad guru), Rajdeep Sardesai (journalist), Shabana Azmi (actor), Kavita Krishnamurthy (singer), Shobhaa De (author and socialite), Vidya Balan (actor), Cyrus Broacha (VJ).

Alumnispeak:
"St Xavier's College is not just a college but also a way of life. The best of Bombay always emerge brighter and better from this vibrant, knowledgeable institute. Rubbing shoulders with witty, intelligent people in the corridors and canteen was as stimulating as the lectures. St Xavier's is a microcosm of all that is the best of Bombay.", said Alyque Padamsee, Chairman, London Institute of Corporate Training, Ad Guru and playwright.

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