With the end of the East India Company's regime in India and the failure of the first armed uprising in 1857, for India's freedom, a new era dawned in our country. It was clear that the emancipation of our land and the transformation of the life of our people had to be brought about by peaceful and constitutional means. Indian renaissance had began and it heralded the role which education needed to play to achieve national aspirations. Wood's Education Despatch (1854), the Education Commission of 1882 and the Hunter Commission (1891), were all indicative of the concerted efforts, of both the Government and the Indian people, in the enterprise of education. The Founders of the Fergusson College had first started the New English School, Pune in 1880 and later established the Deccan Education Society (DES) in 1884.The college held these classes, for almost ten years, in the old Gadre Wada and other locations in Poona. A plot of about 37 acres (a portion of the present extensive campus) was acquired on a 99 years' lease in 1891 by the DES. The foundation stone of the Main building of the Fergusson College, was laid in 1892 and the building was completed in 1895. The college started functioning on this campus in 1895. From then onwards, the college has grown from strength to strength and acquired a reputation as a nation-building institution.
While the founders have become legends, in the history of education and the freedom struggle in India, it is a matter of great significance, that the college received active and moral support from academicians and statesmen, such as Principal William Wordsworth, Principal F. G. Selby, Lord Rippon, Sir William Wedderburn and Sir James Fergusson.Fergusson College was intended to be, "the seminary of the Indian educational missionaries".
Vaman Shivram Apte
Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Mahadeo Ballal Namjoshi
Gopal Ganesh Agarkar
Rajashri Shahu Maharaj
First President of Deccan Education Society
Sir James Fergusson
First patron of Deccan Education Society
Sir James Fergusson (1832-1907) , sixth baronet of Kilkerran and the then Governor of Bombay , was the first patron of the Society . As Governor he was popular for his humance and generous policy regarding the famine laws and Agriculturists’ Relief Act as also for his interest in the spread of education. In recognition of his support and contribution the founders requested him for permission to name the proposed new college as Fergusson College , which he graciously granted.“In the common life of this COLLEGE, as venerable custom, no principle of religion or caste will be violated, but we may trust that jealousies which distract and weaken the community will by the harmonious working of intellectual life , be moderated and even extirpated “ Sir James Fergusson , Ex- Governor o f Bombay during his last visit to the college on 13th February 1895.
Sir William Wedderburn was the Chairman of the first Provional Council of the Deccan Education Society in1884. Principal WamaShivramApte was a great Sanskrit scholar and has the distinction of being the first secretary of the Society, the first Principal of Fergusson College and simultaneously was also Superintendent of the New English School.
The foundation stone of the new college building of Fergusson College on the present campus was laid by His Excellency the Right Honourable George Robert Canning Harris, Governor of Bombay in January, 1892. On Wednesday, 27th March, 1895 on the auspicious day of GudiPadwa, the New Year Day, the Main Building of Fergusson College was inaugurated at the hands of Lord Sandhurst, Governor of Bombay, Shri. ShahuChatrpatti maharaja of Kolhapur and the young President of the Society were present at the function.Wrangler Raghunath PurshottamParanjape was the first B.Sc. of Fergusson College (1894) and the first Indian Senior Wrangler at Cambridge.
The emblem/logo of Deccan Education Society and Fergusson College showcases emphasis of the founders on ‘knowledge’ is aptly reflected in the college emblem, which bears the inscription, ‘knowledge is power’. The ‘Garuda’ (the Eagle) in this emblem, symbolizes the youth, soaring with the power of knowledge, into a vast sky of challenges and opportunities.
All through its 133 years of a shrinelike existence, the Fergusson College has given to the country, from among its alumni, great patriots, thinkers, philosophers, poets, writers, teachers social workers, scientists, industrialists, entrepreneurs, researchers, administrators and defence officers. There is no walk of life that has not basked in the sun of the Fergussonian spirit.
In keeping with its eminent standing in the educational field, some of its teachers and students have brought laurels to the college, by being appointed as Vice Chancellors of Pune and other Indian Universities. The college has also given Pro-Vice-Chancellors and the Director, B.C.U.D. to the SavitribaiPhule Pune University, Pune.
The college was thus, a fruit of the Renaiassance that swept over the land from the beginning of the cultural and intellectual contact with the West. To quote from the Platinum Jubilee Address of the President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad (1960).
“Fergusson College was established at a time when the attitude of the Indian masses towards higher education of the western type was yet in a formative stage and when facilities for such education for the generality of Indian students were inadequate. Apart from the colleges sponsored and run by Government and Christian Missions, there were few institutions, imparting higher education, managed by private or non-official bodies. The importance of the Deccan Education Society lay in the fact that a devoted band of workers came forward at such a crucial time with a determination to set up educational institutions to make best of the western education under Indian conditions available to the people of this country. It was an enterprise, which benefited the Nation without offending or alienating the rulers of India. Fergusson College is the foremost fruit of that effort.
Fergusson College completed 50 years in January 1935 and Sir C.V. Raman, the only Indian recipient of the prestigious Nobel Award in science, was the President of the Golden Jubilee function. He spoke in glowing terms of the place of the Fergusson College, in the history of our land, as quoted in his speech.
“Standing here today, I feel that history has been written in Poona-history of self-reliance, history of great and constructive national effort- that history has been written in Poona, has been written on this very spot”.
Mahatma Gandhi in his message to Principal Dr G S Mahajani on this occasion wrote, “Who will fail to be enthused over the noble record of the service rendered by the D.E. Society and the Fergusson College to the cause of education?
The Diamond Jubilee of the Fergusson College was celebrated in 1945 and Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, the veteran liberal leader of India, graced the occasion as the President of the function. Our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, expressed his feelings about the college in his message sent by letter on this occasion.
“With the ideal of selfless service, they have sent out famous and many other non-famous, but nonetheless good workers for India’s freedom and progress. So on this occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of the college, I join with the innumerable other persons to wish you ever-larger opportunity of training the youth of India and of preparing true citizens of free India.
Fergusson College enjoyed the previledge of brief visit to its library by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1960.
The Platinum Jubilee (Amrut Mahotsav) was celebrated in 1960 in glittering fashion withDr. Rajendra Prasad, the President of India, doing the honors as the President of the function. This was the second visit of Dr Rajendra Prasad to Fergusson College the first one being in 1954. In his speech, he said that in his first meeting with Mahatma Gandhi in 1917, the Fergusson College was referred to by Gandhiji as a role model for other colleges.
The 90th Anniversary of the college was celebrated in 1976 under the presidentship of Shri Y B Chavan, the Minister of External Affairs, Government of India. In his presidential address, he showed words of praise for the great service rendered by Fergusson College to the country. In his speech, he said I am proud to be Rajaramian, but regret that I am not a Fergussonian.
The Centenary of the college was celebrated on 1st June 1985. Shri Rajiv Gandhi the Prime Minister of India, said in his speech on the occasion, Fergusson College symbolizes India coming into the 20th century symbolizes a new education system being brought in, into our country. In a way it has built into a genesis of our freedom struggle. He referred to Fergusson College as a pocket of excellence producing individuals who can rise to the levels unheard of and unbelievable.
On this occasion Shri P V Narasimhrao former Prime Minister of India paid great tributes to the college in the following words. This college born like a twin of the Indian National Congress has always kept abreast of the country’s history. It has produced political leaders of all hues of the political spectrum including ultras and infras. If I may say so administrators, eminent scholars, researchers, writers, sportsmen and many other categories of celebrities, which any country can be proud of.
The Fergusson College is located in the heart of Pune city. While almost all the structures on the vast and sprawling 60 acre campus of the college, boast of a unique identity and history, the Main Building, the N. M. Wadia Amphitheatre and the Bai JerabaiWadia Library have become monumental landmarksof the college.
This simple, yet beautiful building symbolizes the entire college. Constructed in the Gothic style with basalt stone (probably quarried from the Fergusson hill) in the early 1890’s, the foundation stone was laid on the 11th January, 1892 by His Excellency, the Right Hon’ble George Robert Canning Harris, Baron Harris, G. C. I. E., Governor of Bombay. The building was designed by Rao Bahadur V. B. Kanitkar, the Honorary Consulting Engineer to the society and it was built at a cost of Rs. 87,500.00 The building was inaugurated by His Excellency, the Right Hon’ble Lord Sandhurst, the then Governor of Bombay, on the 27th March 1895 and it heralded the dawn of a new era, in higher education. The building has a ground floor and a first floor. The ground floor houses:The Offices of the Principal and the Vice Principals,the College Office (Grant-in-id/ Accounts/ Self Finance) and the Old office of the Deccan Education Society, Classrooms, Common Room for Teachers. Audio-Visual Hall and Language Laboratory. The Sanskrit and History departments are also located on the first floor. In 1985, the Government of India released a postal stamp with a beautiful portrait of the Main Building embossed on it, to commemorate the Centenary of the college. This portrait had been painted by an internationally acclaimed artist, Shri Gopal Deuskar, a Fergussonian himself.This building stands as the ever-vigilant witness, to the fascinating journey of higher education in India, as an icon of inspiration for future generations.
The N. M. Amphitheatre was the great vision of Wrangler R. P. Paranjpye, the first Principal of the college in the 20th century and the first Wrangler of India. It was made possible by the munificent donations from the Wadia Trust, Prince Aga Khan and many others. The N. M. Wadia Amphitheatre was inaugurated on the 5th September 1912, by Sir George Clarke (later Lord Sydenham), the then Governor of Bombay.It can comfortably seat 1500 persons, and if need be, even a thousand more have managed to squeeze themselves into it, on its three spacious floors. It is one of the biggest auditoriums to be found in any college in the Pune University. Besides the auditorium, the building has one small and two large classrooms, on the ground floor and rooms for the German, French and Politics departments. There are two medium size classrooms each, on the first and second floors.The semi-gothic design and the imposing height of the building, imparts to it a unique architectural ambience of historical significance. The Amphitheatre served, in later years, as the ‘place of birth’, for several new educational institutes, cultural and literary movements. Some of the educational institutes, which have their roots in the Amphitheatre and which later, earned a reputation for academic excellence are: Indian Law Society’s Law College, Pune,Symbiosis, Pune (Deemed University),Dnyaneshwar Vidyapeeth, Pune (an autonomous engineering institute),National Institute of Event Management (NIEM) and Deccan Education Society’s:Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC), Pune,Technical Institute, Pune (TIP) and Institute of Management, Development and Research (IMDR), Pune.
The Amphitheatre, as the venue for initiating, ‘New Movements’:
i) The All India Women’s Conference (AIWC)
The first AIWC was organized in the Amphitheatre in 1927 and subsequently, the Silver, Golden and Platinum Jubilees were all celebrated in the Amphitheatre.
ii) Children’s Science Movement (CSM)
This movement was launched at the hands of Professor Raghunath A. Mashelkar, Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, in 2001. The dignitaries present included, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, Government of India; Professor V. G. Bhide, former Vice Chancellor, University of Pune and founder President, CSM; and Principal V. K. Wagh, Vice-President, CSM. The inauguration was attended by about 2000 school children from various schools in and around the city and was indeed one of the very grand events held in this auditorium, in recent years.
iii) Theatre Movements
Many theatre movements started in the Amphitheatre. The PurushottamKarandakSpardha (a state level one-act play competition) was launched in this hall. Many renowned stage and cine actors and actresses; as well as directors of films and documentaries, made their career debut on the stage of the Amphitheatre.
iv) Student-Centered Programmes
In recent years, a host of very popular programmes, (listed below) have been launched by the students, which has made this historic auditorium resound to their youthful and enthusiastic, creativity like Manamukhi: A Student Development Activity (1995-96),Wall Street (1995-96), Muktachhanda (1998-99), Oorja, Sanskrit One-Act Competition (2001-02), Late Shree Madhu Limaye Debate Competition (2001-02), Psyche Yatra (2001-02), Kalchakra (2002-03) and Futurama: Vision of the Future (2002-03).These programmes have been very successful and have become a regular part of the students’ annual activities.
v) Forum for Debates and Discussions
The theatre has hosted innumerable public debates during the freedom struggle and thereafter. Notable amongst the speakers to name only a few were LalaLajpatrai, Acharya Kalekar, N. G. Gore, S. M. Joshi, and Namboodripada. The many debates and discussions in this auditorium, have contributed to the intellectual creativity of the college. Such outstanding and eminent personalities as Sir J. C. Bose, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Sir P. C. Ray,Rt. Hon. V. S. Shastri, Nobel Laureates Sir C. V. Raman, GuruvaryaRavindranath Tagore and Professor Fowler have addressed the gatherings, from the dais of the Amphitheatre.
The Amphitheatre, therefore, stands out, as a truly secular model of the country.
The building of the Bai JerbaiWadia Library, comprising of two floors, was completed in May 1929 with a munificent donation of Rs. 1.61 Lakh from the Wadia brothers. The donation came in two installments: the first, towards the construction of the building and the second to furnish and equip the library. It is very significant to note that as per the wishes of the donors, the library was inaugurated in June 1929 without any formal ceremony.
The entire first floor of the Library serves as a Reading Hall for students and is spacious enough to comfortably accommodate around 400 students at a time. This is perhaps one of the largest Reading Rooms of any Library in the State of Maharashtra. The Main Library on ground floor more than 2,50,000 books and many research journals. Many research scholars and book-lovers have, over the years, donated a large number of their own personal collections; the Library has become fabulously rich in its collection. The library provides extension services to students, teachers, scholars, research workers and senior citizens including scholars from abroad.
The library is blessed with a remarkable collection of statues, dedicated to outstanding national leaders and educationalists. These statues are garlanded every year, at special occasions, when a mixed gathering of teachers and students meet to acknowledge the achievements of these stalwarts. The statues of Lokmanya Tilak, Principal Agarkar andGopalKrishna Gokhale are installed in the main hall of the library. The statue of Lokmanya Tilak was installed in the Shapiro Bharoacha Library Building (at present, the gymkhana building), in 1922 and which was later shifted to the library. The statue of ChhatrapatiShivaji Maharaj was installed in the library in the year 2000.
In the course of time, with an increasing number of students, the Library felt the need to acquire more space by extending the building. This was first done in 1955, with government grants and then in 1982 with UGC grants. The statue of, Ram Ganesh Gadkari, the famous Marathi litterateur, was installed in this extended portion. It was unveiled by I. H. Latif, the then Governor of Maharashtra, on the 22nd March 1985.
Recently, the Library has been funded by National Archives of India for digitization of old and rare manuscripts. To keep pace with changing needs of the learner, the library is undergoing automation. The library now focuses more on procurement of e-books and e-journals which are made available to students through their ERP log ins. The first floor of the library now has a computational center for students.
Another important monument is the memorial dedicated to Sir Wrangler R. P. Paranjpye, a great scholar and the first Indian Wrangler in Mathematics. His tenure as the Principal of Fergusson College marked a period of growth and stability for the college and the DES. It gave the college the status of a premier educational institute of the country. The Memorial was inaugurated on the 20th December 1970, by a renowned industrialist, Shri V. Chowgule. A special grant of Rs. 1 Lakh was received from the UGC, New Delhi, for its construction.
The Memorial houses the departments of Mathematics and part of Computer Science. A large, awe-inspiring oil portrait of Sir Wrangler R. P. Paranjpye stands majestically in the entrance lobby of the building.
The ground floor consists of 3 large and 2 small lecture halls, 1 staff room and library and office of the Head of Mathematics and Statistics departments. The first floor has four large classrooms and the postgraduate computer science and electronic science Laboratory. This laboratory was the result of a generous donation, made by Padmashree B. G. Shirke, an illustrious Fergussonian, especially for this purpose.
Adjacent to the Wrangler Paranjpye Memorial, is the new building of RESOLVE, an autonomous institute of DES, born of the vision and the efforts of the family of Fergusson College. It also houses the undergraduate computer science section of Fergusson College. The Laboratories- Krishna, Koyana, Godavari, Chandrabhaga, Panchaganga, Indrayani and Narmada are designed for undergraduate and Postgraduate sections of Computer Science and Mathematics. DES RESOLVE is a center for training in Computer Science and related courses, besides undertaking collaborative projects with industry for software development. Students of Fergusson College get hands on experience while working on Industrial projects in DES RESOLVE. The electricity for this building comes from renewable source of energy (solar).
The Centenary Complex was constructed in the year 2000, with a sumptuous grant of Rs. 20 lakh from the UGC, New Delhi, sanctioned especially, in appreciation of the noble services of the Fergusson College to the country, over its 100-year history. The building now houses, independently, the Department of Electronic Science, which was formerly situated in the Physics department. It has General Electronics Laboratory, Special Electronics Laboratory (now the EEM Laboratory), Computer and Microprocessor Laboratory, Office of the Head of the Department,Administrative office and Staff-rooms.
The idea of having a botanical garden for the college, was first conceived byProf. Shevade, a renowned teacher of Botany and the Head of the Biology Department, nearly a hundred years ago. The garden literally blossomed over two acres, in the year 1902. The trees in the garden were planted in a planned and systematic manner, according to their botanical classification. The Garden has a rich collection of plants of botanical importance. There are sections for rare and even some endangered plants, besides plants with medicinal properties. In 1961, the collapse of the Panshet Dam, adversely and indirectly affected the water available to the garden, through the seepage of water from the irrigation canal. Moreover, there is a dearth of funds and skilled gardeners, for its maintenance. Despite this, it continues to be one of the richest Botanical Gardens, in this part of the country and a treasure of our college and of Pune city. It is now revived with addition of new plants and it is rejuvenated by tree plantations at the beginning of every monsoon season.
While academic excellence has been the main goal of our educational efforts, for the last 118 years, the participation and performance in sports, cultural activities, extra-curricular activities and military training, have also received due and minute attention of the authorities of the college. The provision for the infrastructural facilities for sports began with the construction of the Chandavarkar GymkhanaPavilion way back in 1910. The college has large playing fields, which meet the requirements of all outdoor games. Facilities for indoor games are also provided. The number of boys and girls, who have benefited from these sports facilities, is indeed very large. This has enabled the college to build a strong foundation for sports and a sporting tradition, which has produced outstanding sportsmen in different games, many of whom have brought great distinction to the college and to themselves, at the national and the international level.
The college has very good hostel accommodation for boys and girls. There are in all 6-hostel blocks, 4 blocks for gents and 2 blocks for ladies. The total intake capacity of the hostel is 587 students (427 boys and 160 girls). The gents’ hostel blocks are located to the north of the campus and the ladies’ hostel blocks lie to the east of the campus.
The College has some quarters for the teaching and the non – teaching staff of the college and also for employees of other DES Institutes. Spacious bungalows, built on the old British design, near the main gate and the ladies’ hostel gate, add greatly to the beauty of the college campus. The Principal is provided with an independent bungalow and other bungalows are meant for the other office bearers and teachers of the college. Besides these bungalows, both big and small, there are 8 UGC apartments. The residences for the non-teaching staff consist of twin bungalows, servants’ quarters, chawl-type quarters and out houses attached to the big bungalows.
Firodia Niketan- The Fergussonians’ Association: (formerly Ex-Fergussonians Association)
It was on the auspicious occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of the college in 1945, that the Old Fergussonians’ Association was born. Ever since then, Fergussonians felt the need for having an office, a meeting place and guest rooms on the college campus, to coordinate their activities.
This need was met by the Firodia Niketan, better known as the EFA home, which is the home for ex-Fergussonians on the college campus. The Firodia Niketan was constructed in 1988, from a generous donation of Rs. 2.5 lakhs from the Firodia Family, which has had strong educational ties with the college, over 7 to 8 generations. Donations for this home were also received from many past students and the EFA home finally became a concrete reality.
The EFA home has a hall, used for meetings, seminars, guest lectures, Yoga training and sometimes even as a lecture hall for our college students. There are four rooms for use by visiting alumni, to once again experience the nostalgia of their student days.
Since its inception, EFA has always associated itself very closely, with the college by organizing academic and cultural programmes, which link our glorious history with the promising present. Felicitations of renowned Fergussonians and in some cases, celebrations of the birth centenaries of eminent past students, are the highlight of its activities.
EFA now plans to set up an Art Gallery exhibiting interesting old photographs, portraits and other documents, which will give future generations a visual glimpse, of the glorious history of our college.