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Hughli Mohsin College


Hughli Mohsin College was founded by an endowment of haji muhammad mohsin in August 1836. Mohsin, a celibate, made a deed of trust in April 1806 and appointed two mutwallis to administer the income accruing from his property. He had apportioned his property into nine shares of which three were to be devoted to sacred uses, four for pensions, stipends and charity and the rest were to be used as remuneration for the mutwallis.

Hughli Mohsin College, Chinsurah

After the death of Mohsin in 1812, the dishonest mutwallis forged a perpetual lease in their favour resulting in the intervention of the board of revenue. Litigations continued for a long time, during which a large part of the annual income was left unspent. The proposal to spend this accumulated unspent money on an educational institution was mooted by Mr Macnaghten, Deputy Secretary to the Government's Sadr Board of Revenue. The General Committee of Public Instruction was asked to report on this suggestion.

A local committee was accordingly formed at Hughli on 13 March 1832 to prepare a plan for the new institution and Dr Thomas A Wise, the Civil Surgeon, was chosen as its Secretary. The other members included the Commissioner W Braddon, the Collector WH Belli, the Magistrate DC Smyth, and the mutwalli Akbar Ali Khan. In March 1836, the General Committee prepared a plan for the establishment of a college comprising two departments ' English and Oriental, which were to be placed under the direct control of the Committee without any interference from the local committee.

On 1 August 1836, the Hughli College was opened in Parrons' house on a lease of two years at a rent of Rs 142 a month. The Imambara schools had a natural death. Dr Wise was appointed Principal and the college was placed under the immediate control of the General Committee. Edinburgh Review hailed the establishment of the college as 'one of the signs of a new era of enlightenment in India'.

From the very beginning, Hughli College attracted students in large numbers. The annual income of the college was about Rs 50,000. Explaining the causes of popularity of the college the Principal mentioned in his first report, inter alia, the presence of numerous English-educated families in the neighbourhood, the secular character of studies offered by the college and the fact that this was also a free school backed by government. Dr Wise, who remained in office till February 1839, was succeeded by Sutherland, Esdaile and later on by Clint. At the close of 1836 there were 1,013 pupils in the English Department and 223 in the Oriental Department. But by the end of 1837 the number of pupils in the English Department had fallen to 750, while that in the Oriental Department had risen to 274, evidently due to the cropping up of similar educational institutions in the vicinity. By 1844, the students of Hughli College had already established a reputation for their proficiency in the vernacular (Bangla) language, so much so that no college in the Bengal Presidency could surpass them on this count.

During 1847-1860 the Hughli College saw many internal changes. At the close of 1846 the English Department was divided into the college and the collegiate school sections. The classes were also rearranged. After 1849, the college students were divided into four classes instead of two. In 1856, the topmost class was called the fourth class, while the lowest class was known as the first. Next year the Hughli College was affiliated to the newly established university of calcutta. However, it put up no candidate for the BA Examinations until 1866.

Since 1854 the fortunes of the college, like many other mofussil colleges, suffered a partial decline as a result of the opening of the Engineering College at Sibpur and the preference accorded to presidency college. In September 1848, out of 442 students 11 were Christians and four Muslims. In May 1857 there were only four Christians and eight Muslims among 474 students. By April 1860, however, the number of Muslim students had risen to 33.

In 1861 the Hughli College sent up candidates for the FA Examinations. In 1886 the students appeared not only for the FA and BA Examinations but even for Honours and MA Examinations. There was a Law Department as well.

By 1864-65 the Hughli College had gained the distinction of being the most successful mofussil college. In 1876 a special grant of Rs 1000 was made to the college for the purchase of books on Botany and physical sciences. The Botany Department earned a high reputation. The Law Department that proved very popular in the beginning, saw a decline in its student rolls by 1879. Even then, during 1881-86 the total number of students in the college nearly doubled.

Since 1872 the entire cost of the Hughli College was borne by the government. The government of India made an additional grant of Rs 50,000 for the maintenance of this college. The income from endowment amounting to Rs 50,000 was diverted to the establishment and maintenance of new madrasas at Dacca, Chittagong and Rajshahi and to the payment of stipends and part-fees for Muslim students in schools and colleges. Out of this endowment Rs 7000 was allotted for the Hughli Madrasa.

The years 1887-1906 were arguably the darkest period in the history of the college ' with standards plummeting both in numbers and quality. In 1886 the Finance Committee recommended that the government should close down Hughli College and relocate the students at Presidency College. Fortunately in 1897 the Educational Service was reorganised, transferring the post of the Principal of Hughli College to the Provincial Service. The restructuring exercise saved the college and it survived.

Gaining further affiliations, by the third decade of the 20th century, the college taught English, Bengali, Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu, History, Logic, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry upto the Intermediate standard. At the Degree level it taught the same subjects in addition to Economics and Philosophy. At the Honours standard it taught English, History, Philosophy, Sanskrit, Mathematics and Physics. In 1907 the Law Department was finally wound up. The total number of students rose steadily from 278 in 1926 to 302 in 1930.

The students of the college played a not too insignificant role in the freedom struggle, providing a link between the urban and the rural patterns of the quit india movement of 1942. They observed the 'Rashid Ali Day' on 21 November 1946 in protest against the INA trials. During the World War II some of the teachers joined the 'Air Raid Protection Organisation'.

In December 1947 there were 40 girl students in the Hughli College. In 1949 a separate wing for women was sanctioned. [Rachana Chakraborty]