Saturday, 25 March 2017

Xavier's University, Kolkata, founded by Belgian Jesuits - colonial India

St. Xavier's College, Kolkata. en.wikipedia.org/
Founded in 1860 by Jesuit Henri Depelchin, St. Xavier's College, a graduate and undergraduate  institution has been  a well-known college in  Kolkata since the colonial days. It carries the name of  St. Francis Xavier, a Navarre Jesuit of the 16th century. Now a full -fleged University (since 2016), earlier  since 2006 it had been an autonomous college affiliated to the University of Calcutta. In the State of West Bengal, it was the first autonomous college. In April 2014, the college was awarded the "College Of Excellence" and presently  it offers Undergraduate and Postgraduate degrees, diplomas and certificates  in many fields. and a "Special Heritage Status" in July, 2015  was accorded by the University Grants Commission (India). The college was also awarded Grade A++ (CGPA: 3.77/4) by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council.This college has close link with Kolkata and its people since its inception, and in recognition of its contribution to the society here, a commemorative stamp was issued by the Indian Post on 12 April 1985 depicting the college campus.
St. Xavier's College/en.wikipedia.org

St. Xavier's College/en.wikipedia.org/
It was in 1860 the Jesuits, an all-male Catholic religious order formed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola founded the college at the initiative of  Fr. Henri Depelchin, who oversaw most of the initial work during the early stages of its progress.

Sans Souci Theatre at  30 Park Street (now Mother Teresa Sarani), Kolkata, was in  a prime location in the emerging Calcutta city, a melting pot of diverse culture, social and intellectual milieu. During the height of the colonial rule, Sans Sousi was a famous social gathering place and also a hang out for the eligible European bachelors. Unfortunately a major fire mishap brought the entire building down in 1843. The site was bought by seven  Belgian Jesuits with a view to starting an educational institution. The plot here where the famous theater San Souci  had stood became the site of Xavier college and the present campus is functioning here. 
St. Xavier's College, Kolkata,Nepaladmission.com
With financial support from  the local Anglo Indian population and the  home of the Jesuit province - Belgium  a sum  Rs 45,000.00 was paid by Fr. Depelchin to buy the site for the proposed college.. Like many institutions, this college took off with just 30 students, so to say, a humble beginning. Despite affiliation with Calcutta University  in 1862,  the college administration  fell on hard time due to fund  crunch and consequently expansion work, additional class rooms and accommodation for the Jesuits were hampered.  The Rector in 1864  ran ads in the local news papers, requesting for funds to tide over the shortage of funds for expansion work of the college.

Upon seeing the ads, generous people in public responded magnanimously. Besides, Jesuit Father Henri Depelchin and his assistant Bro. Koppes, the architect of the new school, personally went around  the city and sought donations and they got good response. The present, imposing, five-storied building  cost whooping rupees 9 lakhs and took six long years - 1934 to 1940 to complete the work. It is quite interesting to note that part of the funds came from Belgium and through rentals by the US  Army  that occupied the building during the Second World War. New  campus in Salt Lake City, Kolkata, is on the way, along with a second boys' hostel.

Goethals Library located above the College Chapel, is one of the useful libraries in Kolkata and it has  some of the oldest periodicals, journals, and books that are useful for research scholars.Thanks to  the Archbishop of Calcutta, Paul Goethals, S.J., who in 1908 donated these valuable, well=preserved  treasures to the college. It was a milestone in the history of this college. 

The  univrsity offers  countless couses in various subjects and has 
 collaboration with the University of Manitoba, Canada. St. Xavier's  founded in 1860 by a Catholic Christian Minority Religious body, the Society of Jesus, with affliation to Calcutta University in 1862 to meet  the educational and cultural needs of the Minority community then,  now gives admission to  all irrespective of caste, creed and nationality.