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125 years of Isabella Thoburn College, Lucknow

The institution in Lucknow began as a one-room establishment in Aminabad with just six girls. It gradually moved to Lal Bagh as a high school. And then it went on to become Lucknow Women's College in July 1886. After founder Isabella Thoburn's death in 1901, it was named after her and shifted to its present location in 1923, writes Rajeev Mullick.
Hindustan Times | By Rajeev Mullick, Lucknow
UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2011 05:58 PM IST

Isabella Thoburn College, the first Christian institution for women in Asia, is celebrating 125 years of its existence.

During this long journey, this institution has produced several big names, which very few colleges in the country can boast of.

These include Padmashri Dr Mohini Giri, first chairperson of National Commission for Women in India, Late Isha B Joshi, first woman to be an IAS, Isha M Joshi, first woman judge, late Mumtaz Jahan Haider, founder principal of Women's College in Aligarh, late Vijayaraje Scindia and many more.

The college has also produced renowned authors such as late Ismat Chugtai and late Qurtul-ain-Haider. Other big names from this college include Mohini Mangalik, who studied here in the early 40s. Boys were not allowed to visit here except during fetes when girls used to bring their male friends.

Other past students of this college who have made it big are Amrita Dass, founder-director of the Institute of Career Studies and Abha Singh, director, postal services, Maharashtra and Goa, and the list is endless. They are deeply indebted to their alma mater for what they have achieved in life.

Dr Amrita Dass recalls: "When I recall my days as a BA student at IT College from 1974 to 1976, a kaleidoscope of vivid images flood my mind. IT College offered great campus life with renowned teachers, courteous staff and well-managed co-curricular activities. These were undoubtedly some of my best years and I am proud to be an alumna of this prestigious college, which played such a vital role in my life."

Abha Singh, director postal services (Maharashtra and Goa), who graduated from IT College in 1984, is proud of her alma
mater. She said: "During my IAS interview, the esteemed panel asked me why this college was so famous. Pat came my reply. It's the first women's college in Asia!"

Roping in old students
"We are connecting with our alumnae spread across the globe to join in and participate - both in the cultural and academically-oriented programmes," said Dr ES Charles, principal of IT College.

The present students and the faculty are closely involved in the planning and execution of the yearlong events. "We are confident of a good turnout in November when the grand celebrations get under way. It would be both fun as well as learning experience for the students," she said..

Yearlong show
2011 will witness a series of events on the college campus to mark the quasquicentennial celebrations. The yearlong celebrations will witness visit of all those societies and international agencies instrumental in founding this great institution.

A grand function will be held in the first week of November that will be graced by famous alumnae of college both from India and abroad.

"Since this will be a gathering of academicians, the college has planned interactive sessions for idea exchange and challenges of higher education in India. Leading academicians from India will be invited," said the principal.

Representatives of other colleges set up in South East Asia by the pioneering efforts of the Women's Foreign Missionary Society will also be a part of the celebration.

Celebrations begin
The celebrations started from Saturday with teachers hitting the stage amidst deafening applause from the students who remained glued to their seats. The teachers walked the ramp, staged plays, danced to numbers from the film 'Parineeta', and enthralled the audience with qawwali.

Sapna Sahai, a teacher, said: "It was a thrill to perform for the students. Their encouragement floored us. I was overwhelmed when they all came to hug us after the show."

Another teacher Shivkamini quipped: "It was a big challenge for all of us to put up a good show. I really don't know how we fared well. But the way these girls clapped for us was exhilarating."

All the students showered praise on their teachers. For instance, Radhika Chaterjee said they saw a different aspect of their teachers when they took the stage.

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