Hundreds of students clad in yellow-and-black robes were seen milling around the college campus on Friday, joking, laughing and pulling each others’ legs. The celebration was a part of the graduates’ and post-graduates’ convocation ceremony at the Presidency College. The event began at 9.30 am, and proud parents came to witness what would go down as one of the most memorable days of their lives.
This was the latest batch of students to graduate from the alma mater of many great scientists and leaders. Established in 1840, Presidency College — the first higher education institute set up by the British in South India — is celebrating its 175th anniversary.
“Being proud members of the physics department where Sir CV Raman studied, we encourage students to test their theories in labs and always hope another (great) scientist will emerge,” said a professor, pointing to where Nobel Prize-winning Raman used to sit in class.
Besides Raman, the college also boasts of another Nobel Prize winner, Dr S Chandrasekhar. The college has academically supported a range of experiments from bombs to balms. Annual reports of the college accessed by City Express showed that research on development of TNT explosives, which were commonly used by the British during World War II, were carried out in the same science labs. These labs were also used to formulate the popular pain relief balm, ‘Amrutanjan’.
An alumni of the college, Dhamodharan, now the master trainer of the Lead India 2020 National Movement who worked with APJ Abdul Kalam, says, “The college stills holds the same heritage. Even though I studied here only three years, I walked down 175 years of memories. Being a chemistry student, Kalam sir acknowledged my talent.”
“We have long history of statesmen, scholars, writers and scientists. C Gopalachari, our last Governor-general and P Chidambaram, the former Finance Minister, are among our alumni,” says the principal, T Pramananda Perumal, adding that over the years, the college has fallen behind its peers in the city. “Efforts are on to provide an image makeover, and we submitted proposals to introduce MBA courses next academic year,” he said.