New thinking needed to save Presidency, say experts

July 23rd, 2011 - 6:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Jyoti Basu Kolkata, July 23 (IANS) Innovative thinking is needed to restore the past glory to Presidency University, that was earlier the Presidency College and produced gems like Swami Vivekananda and Satyajit Ray, experts have said.

Economist Isher Judge Ahluwalia, chairperson of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, said: “If we want to be world class, we not only need to change physical infrastructure. We need changes in our mindset also.”

“We have to develop flexibility and innovative ways of thinking in order to make the institution realize its potential,” she stressed.

Ahluwalia was speaking at a meeting of the Presidency University mentor group Friday. Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen is member of the group formed on the lines of the newly-revived Nalanda International University in Bihar to change the fortunes of the Presidency University.

Amartya Sen is the adviser to mentor group chairman Sugato Bose, a grand nephew of legendary freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

Established in 1817 as Hindu College, the institution cradled the 19th century Bengal Renaissance and was christened Presidency College in 1855. It was last year upgraded as a university.

“We have looked into the infrastructure of various laboratories and other things. The infrastructure, libraries need to be upgraded to make it a world class institution,” said Ashok Sen, professor of physics in Allahabad’s Harish Chandra Research Institute and member of the mentor group.

Physicist-cum-biologist Himadri Pakrasi, director of the International Centre for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability at Washington; Abhijit Banerjee, Ford Foundation International professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Swapan Chakraborty, National Library director; and Sukanta Chaudhuri, professor emeritus of English in Jadavpur University, are the other members of the group.

Banerjee, Sen and Chaudhuri were not present at the meeting.

The institution, with around 2,500 students, still churns out talent but faces criticism about falling standards due to alleged politics in teacher recruitment and frequent student unrest.

The college’s alumni include Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Satyajit Ray, Marxist star Jyoti Basu and scientist Satyendranath Bose.

India’s first president, Rajendra Prasad, and former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also studied in the college.

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