''Fergusson College'' of Pune, a legacy of Indian Nationalism

Fergusson College,Pune. Getmyuni

Fergusson College,Pune The Indian Express

Fergusson College (FC) in the city of Pune is a popular college during the colonial period after India came under the direct control of the British Crown. Founded  in 1885 by the Deccan Education Society, it had the rare distinction of being the first ever college in India  privately governed. Its first Principal was one Professor Vaman Shivram Apte, well supported by Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, well known social reformer, educationist and journalist. He served as the second Principal of the college from August 1892 till his death in June 1895.

Fergusson College,Pune. Collegedunia

Now an autonomous institution, the college was named after the then Governor of Bombay Presidency  Scottish born Sir James Fergusson who  came forward and donated donated Rs 1,200.00. In the olden days, the college has two separate courses: The Junior Wing of the college is  for students graduating from school after passing   the Higher-Secondary State Certificate examination. The Senior Wing offers  bachelor's degrees in many disciplines. Now, the same system continues and as for Bachelor's degrees, there are as many as 29 courses are available, including computer sciences and humanities. The college also offers Masters, doctoral and vocational programs as well. Since 1948, the college has been under the jurisdiction of the University of Pune.

Gov. Fergusson inaugurated the college. en.wikipedia.org

An interesting aspect of this old college is it has close links with Indian politics from the early colonial days. Its founders were stalwarts and pioneers of the Indian National Congress, as well as Hindu Nationalism and the Indian Socialist Movement.  Several ministers and legislators, including two Indian Prime Ministers were the alumni of this college. The college is on a serene and quiet campus, covering  65-acre (260,000 m2) in the heart of the sprawling  city. The central government and also UGC classified  it as a Heritage College and 19 Indian colleges enjoy this status. The college receives financial help from UGC for the conservation of buildings and campus. It is the third college to have received autonomous status in this country.

Soon after the end of the worst rebellion (Sepoy Mutiny ) of 1857, Indian elite wanted to give much emphasis on modern  education, without compromising on the traditional one being followed. Better education would help them fight democratically against British hegemony.  Great nationalists like 
Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, and social reformer Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and Mahadev Namjoshi  came together and decided to start an institution for the Indians. Much leverage was given to English education and keeping it in mind  the Deccan Education Society was formed in 1884 and a year later the Fergusson College was founded on a huge donated plot  on the West bank of the Mutha river (Shivaji Nagar). William Wordsworth, the grandson of the famous poet and principal of Elphinstone College in Bombay inaugurated the college. Credit goes to other active leaders like  R G Bhandarkar and M G Ranade who took care of  the construction of the college. The British colonial Government in Bombay was quite helpful in this regard. After independence, this college has produced countless eminent leaders like Kripalani, Narashimha Rao, S. M. Joshi, Babubai Patel, et al.  The Bai Jerbai Wadia Library, built in 1929 by industrialists Sir Cusrow Wadia and Sir Ness Wadia in memory of their mother, has on the ground floor more than 3,00,000 books, besides periodicals, research journals, etc.