Agra’s St John’s College To Celebrate Its 175th Year In Style

Agra’s St John’s College To Celebrate Its 175th Year In Style

Agra May 30 (TNA) Tourists passing by the imposing red sand-stoned edifice on the Mahatma Gandhi Road, the lifeline of the city, rarely fail to wonder and ask what building it is and who built it. The structure integrates with the Mughal flavour of the city known for its monuments. Rikshaw walas and auto drivers often confuse the tourists by telling them stories of the Mughal era while showing them the building from a distance.

For the locals, it may mean little but outsiders are impressed when told it is the pride of the Taj city and one of north India’s premier educational institutions, St John’s College which completes a glorious 175-year run.

Agra boasts of a dozen other century-old colleges that continue to set high standards in education. However, the state of affairs at Agra University remains a matter of concern.

Ex-students of St John’s College, in any part of the world, continue to flaunt their bonding with their alma mater which has a record of producing politicians, including presidents, governors, civil servants, sportspersons, academics, researchers, and entrepreneurs who have brought laurels to the country.

The college housed in a majestic red sand-stoned building in Indo-Saracenic architecture is a part of the heritage of Agra. The grand architectural elegance of the college building attracts tourists. A few films have also been shot including Lal Patthar. "The architectural brilliance is harmony with the Mughal ethos of the city and adds to the rich heritage of Agra," says heritage photographer Vishal of Nice Studio.

The college has a long list of distinguished alumni including former president Shankar Dayal Sharma, Congress leader Khurshid Alam Khan, former governor Shailendra Singh, SMH Burney, journalist Pankaj Pachauri, diplomat Meera Shankar and so many others.

Founded in 1850 by the Church Missionary Society of England through the efforts of the Agra C.M.S. Association which came into being in 1840, the first Principal of the College was Rev Thomas Valpy French, a distinguished fellow of University College, Oxford. The College then formulated its curriculum and conducted its examinations.

But from 1862 to 1888 the College remained affiliated with the Calcutta University and later up to 1927 the Allahabad University. When Agra University was established in 1927, the then-principal of the College Dr AW Davies became its first Vice-Chancellor, affiliated with Agra University.

The college’s centenary wing’s foundation stone was laid in 1958 by former president Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan. It was opened by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, former prime minister with the words “I have come to pay tribute to this temple of learning.”

Rajiv Gupta, an ex-student, now a leading local businessman recalls that the Commerce faculty of the College, as well as geography and psychology, were popular with students from all over north India. A high level of research was conducted in the school of entomology. Prof GI David of the English department was a big name in the field of literature.

Anil Sharma, president of the Agra Civil Society said a series of programmes are planned from July onwards, starting with Teachers’ Day. “The members of the Old Boys Association of the College are active and hold several programmes,” Sharma added.

The News Agency