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Amritsar’s Hindu College common to Manekshaw, ex-PM Manmohan Singh

The college was established by Hindu Sabha, Amritsar, a body of philanthropists.

punjab Updated: Aug 13, 2018 13:06 IST
Anil Sharma
Anil Sharma
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Amritsar,Hindu College,Gobindgarh Fort
Hindu College in Amritsar was established by Hindu Sabha, Amritsar, a body of philanthropists.(HT Photo)

Amritsar, which is best known for its rich heritage, including Golden Temple, Akal Takht, Ram Tirath, Durgiana Temple, Gobindgarh Fort and Jallianwala Bagh, is also home to one of the oldest institutes of learning, Hindu College, Amritsar.

The college boasts of having a long list of eminent alumni like former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former army chief Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, cricketers Bishan Singh Bedi, Madan Lal and Arjuna awardee badminton player Dinesh Khanna, among others.

The college was established by Hindu Sabha, Amritsar, a body of philanthropists. In 1906, Hindu Sabha, led by eminent leader Sir Gopal Dass Bhandari, had set up Hindu Sabha High School at Dhab Khatikan, near Hathi Gate, one of the entrance gates to the walled city of Amritsar. The school was upgraded to Hindu College in 1924.

“In early 20th century, there was only one college, Khalsa College, in Amritsar. Sir Gopal Dass and other philanthropists of Hindu Sabha decided to raise the Hindu Sabha High School to the level of intermediate college in order to meet the growing demand for higher education in the town,” said college principal PK Sharma.

Earlier, the college was affiliated to Panjab University Chandigarh. When Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) was established at Amritsar in 1969, the college got affiliation from the GNDU.

The genesis and growth

A single-storey building resembling a temple was raised in 1906 for Hindu Sabha High School. A total of 32 donors had donated money to the Hindu Sabha for the building’s construction.

“The building was constructed with bricks and mud only. The width of each wall of the building is 24-inch due to which the students here don’t feel hot during the summer,” said Sharma, who is the 18th principal of the college.

He said the old building comprises 12 class rooms, a staff room, and a library. “In 1980, the college built a new building for the commerce block. The new triple-storey building also comprises 12 classrooms, a staff room and an accounting lab.”

“The old building of the college was upgraded to a double-storey structure in 2004 after the college got grants from University Grant Commission (UGC). When Captain Amarinder Singh was MP from Amritsar, he gave us Rs 5-lakh grant and with that amount we constructed an auditorium with 200 seats in 2016. Another auditorium with 600 seats is also being built in the college and for this Ram Prakash Saroj, an old student of the college who is now an international businessman, donated Rs 25 lakh to the college,” he added.

Besides, the college has an air-conditioned library with over 40,000 books on its shelves, a gym and an indoor sports stadium.

Before the Partition of India, students from many districts of undivided Punjab which are now in Pakistan took education from the college. “Though the strength of the college has fallen from 3,000 to 1,700, even today students from neighbouring districts of Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Pathankot are getting education here. Now, around 70% students are from rural areas,” Sharma added.

Principal PK Sharma with portraits of former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and legendary spinner Bishan Singh Bedi.

Alumni to be proud of

Principal Sharma said the college has a long list of prominent alumni.

Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh did his BA (honours) in economics at this college in 1948. In March this year, Dr Singh visited the college after seven decades to attend its alumni meet, he added.

“During his visit, he recalled his memories related to the institution. He remembered some of his teachers, including Prof Kalia, who left a lasting impression upon his young mind. He had said whatever he is today is only because of the efforts of his teachers at Hindu College who brought out his hidden potential,” he said.

Sharma said Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who was the army chief during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, was also the student of the Hindu college. He took admission in the college in 1931.

Legendary spinner Bishan Singh Bedi, former captain of Indian cricket team Madan Lal and former skipper of the badminton team Dinesh Khanna were the proud products of the college, he added.

This college was also the alma mater of former external affairs minister P Shiv Shankar, former Kerala governor RL Bhatia, former diplomat SK Lamba, former supreme court judge justice Hans Raj Khanna, former foreign secretary MK Rasgotra; Lt Gen (retd) BKN Chhiber and Punjab education minister Om Parkash Soni.

“Besides, eminent stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma was also the student of our college,” the principal said.

Kamal Passi, another alumni of the college who was part of the World Cup winning U-19 cricket squad in 2012 and has been playing in Indian Premier League, says besides giving good education, teachers of Hindu College also provide conducive atmosphere for sports.

Postgraduate courses

Besides 10 undergraduate (UG) courses, the college offers five postgraduate (PG) courses — MA (economics), MSc (computer science), MSc (maths), MCom (accounts & finance) and PGDCA.

“During its early years, the college also offered courses in French and Urdu. In 1936, degree classes were added and the college began to impart education in all important subjects for the intermediate and degree classes,” Sharma said.

“We now have 39 teachers while the posts of seven teachers are lying vacant,” he added.

The college was given ‘A’ grade accreditation by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council in 2017.

First Published: Aug 13, 2018 13:06 IST