Vidyasagar College

History, Glory & Evolution

1872 must be treated as a landmark in the annals of Higher Education not only in Bengal but also in India. The first private college run by the Indians, taught by the Indians and even financed by the Indians viz., the Metropolitan Institution got affiliated to the University of Calcutta, for the First Arts (F.A.). Aided by the zeal, aspiration and sacrifice, of Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, the College received affiliation of the University for Imparting Education up to Graduation level in 1879 and for B.L. course in 1882. The myth of the European monopoly of Higher Education was shattered and replaced by the academic system devised, by an Oriental Pundit, completely Indic in nature, characteristics and purposes. After demise of the illustrious Founder (born on 26th September, 1820) on 29th July, 1891, the College was renamed Vidyasagar College in the year 1917.

Being closely associated with the Calcutta Training School which came into being in the year 1859, succeeding the establishment of the University of Calcutta in 1857, the year marked for great upheaval and turmoil, caused by the Sepoy Mutiny, spreading mostly in the northern parts of lndia rapidly, and indentified as taking the shape of first freedom movement against the British regime.

Pundit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, the renowned educationist and social reformer and who had been the Secretary (from 5th January, to 31st January; 1851) and Principal ( 1851 to 1858) of Sanskrit College, was busy to give a new shape and dimension to the school, the management of which was by this time solely assumed by thunder-spirited Vidyasagar, that took a rebirth in the year 1864 as Metropolitan Institution, a unique creation of Vidyasagar himself.

The History of genesis of Vidyasagar College i.e., the year of establishment could have been counted from an earlier period, if the application made by Vidyasagar, for affiliation to F.A. course by the University; had not been turned down by the Syndicate, C. U. in its meeting dated 03.05.1864. It is mentioned in the article written by Sri Sureshprasad Nyogi in the Vidyasagar College Centenary Commemoration Volume that it was learnt afterwards that Mr. J. Sutcliffe, (Esq., M.A.-C. U. Documents), the then Principal, Presidency College ( 1864- 1875-C. U. Documents) objected to this application for affiliation on the ground that if a competitive college run by the Indians got affiliated, the dignity and importance of Presidency College could have been on the wane. But the brilliant performance of the students of his school in the year 1871, in the Entrance Examination, conducted by the University of Calcutta, inspired Vidyasagar to venture for exerting renewed efforts for getting affiliation of the University. The D.P.I. Atkinson promised that he would not create any barrier in getting affiliation; however, he had got some reservation against courses proposed to be conducted by the College. J. Sutcliffe, this time also did not commit anything. Rather he raised various questions regarding the quality of the teachers to be appointed, their eligibilry and pay-scales.

But this time the Vice-Chancellor, Edward Clive Bail), who was one the previous acquaintances and of even age of Vidyasagar, was approached by the Founder and requested to act in favour of his prayer. Baily favoured this time despite some opposition, the application of Vidyasagar. On 27th January, 1871 the Syndicate in its meeting recommended after sanctioning the prayer for affiliation, to the Government and on 19th February, 1871 the Government of India sanctified affiliation of Vidyasagar College up to the standard of the First Examination in Arts (F.A.) "with effect from 1st ultimo."

The C. U. documents narrate that since "the death of Pundit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, (the management of the College had changed hands more than once and on the 1st September, 1896, it was under an agreement with the Vidyasagar Institute vested in a Committee called the College Council, composed mainly of Professors of the College. The College Council was in charge of the College till Governing body was formed and took over-the charge on 8th August, 1921." In the year 1917 Metropolitan Institution 'was rechristened as Vidyasagar College by the "Board of Trustees" of the College, after the demise of the founder. All the University documents state, "It (Vidyasagar College) was the first attempt to impart higher education to middle class Hindu at small cost through a purely indigenous agency."