Scottish Church College is one of the top colleges in India. It is a premier institute for pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate studies and is the oldest continuously running Christian liberal arts and sciences college in the country. It has been rated (A) by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, an autonomous organization that evaluates academic institutions in India. It is affiliated with the University of Calcutta for degree courses for graduates and postgraduates. It is a selective coeducational institution, known for its high academic standards. Students and alumni call themselves "Caledonians" in the name of the college festival, "Caledonia".
The origins are traceable to the life of Alexander Duff (1806–1878), the first overseas missionary of the Church of Scotland, to India. Known initially as the General Assembly's Institution, it was founded on 13 July 1830.
Alexander Duff was born on 25 April 1806, in Moulin, Perthshire, located in the Scottish countryside. He attended the University of St Andrews where after graduation, he opted for a missionary life. Subsequently, he undertook his evangelical mission to India. In a voyage that involved two shipwrecks (first on the ship Lady Holland off Dassen Island, near Cape Town, and later on the ship Moira, near the Ganges delta) and the loss of his personal library consisting of 800 volumes (of which 40 survived), and college prizes, he arrived in Calcutta on 27 May 1830.
Feringhi Kamal Bose
Supported by the Governor-General of IndiaLord William Bentinck, Rev. Alexander Duff opened his institution in Feringhi Kamal Bose's house, located in upper Chitpore Road, near Jorasanko. In 1836 the institution was moved to Gorachand Bysack's house at Garanhatta. Mr. MacFarlane, the Chief-Magistrate of Calcutta, laid the foundation stone on 23 February 1837. Mr. John Gray, elected by Messrs. Burn & Co. and superintended by Captain John Thomson of the East India Company designed the building. It is possible that he may have been inspired by the facade of the Holy House of Mercy in Macau, which reflects the influence of Portuguese ⁰. Traces of English Palladianism are also evident in the design of the college. The construction of the building was completed in 1839.
In the early 1800s, under the regime of the East India Company, English education and Missionary activities were initially suspect. While the East India Company supported Orientalist instruction in the vernacular languages like Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit, and helped to establish institutions like Calcutta Madrasah College, and Sanskrit College, in general, colonial administrative policy discouraged the dissemination of knowledge in their language, that is in English. The general apathy of the Company towards the cause of education and improvement of natives is in many ways, the background for the agency of missionaries like Duff.
Inspired by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Reverend Alexander Duff, then a young missionary, arrived in India's colonial capital to set up an English-medium institution. Though Bengalis had shown some interest in the spread of Western education from the beginning of the 19th century, both the local church and government officers were skeptical about the high-caste Bengali's response to the idea of an English-medium institution. While Orientalists like James Prinsep were supportive of the idea of vernacular education, Duff and prominent Indians like Raja Ram Mohan Roy supported the use of English as a medium of instruction. His emphasis on the use of English on Indian soil was prophetic:
The English language, I repeat it, is the lever which, as the instrument of conveying the entire range of knowledge, is destined to move all Hindustan.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy helped Duff by organizing the venue and bringing in the first batch of students. He also assured the guardians that reading the King James's Bible did not necessarily imply religious conversion, unless that was based on inner spiritual conviction. Imbibing the tenets of the Scottish educational system that shaped his ideals, Duff was, unlike the missionaries and scholars at the Serampore College, wholeheartedly committed to the cause of instruction in the English language, as that facilitated the advanced study of European religion, literature and science. By carefully selecting teachers, European and Indian, who brought out the best of Christian and secular understandings, and by emphasizing advanced pedagogical techniques that emphasized the Socratic method of classroom debate, inquiry, and rational thinking, Duff and his followers established an educational system, whose impact in spreading progressive values in contemporary Bengal would be profound. Although his ultimate aim was the spread of English education, Duff was aware that a foreign language could not be mastered without command of the native language. Hence in his General Assembly's Institution (as later in his Free Church Institution), teaching and learning in the dominant vernacular Bengali language was also emphasized. Duff and his successors also underscored the necessity of sports among his students. When he introduced political economy as a subject in the curricula, his faced his church's criticism.
The great social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy supported Reverend Duff in his efforts.
In 1840, Duff returned to India. At the Disruption of 1843, Duff sided with the Free Church. He gave up the college buildings, with all their effects and established a new institution, called the Free Church Institution. He had the support of Sir James Outram and Sir Henry Lawrence, and the encouragement of seeing a new band of converts, including several young men born of high caste. In 1844, governor-general Viscount Hardinge opened government appointments to all who had studied in institutions similar to Duff's institution. In the same year, Duff co-founded the Calcutta Review, of which he served as editor from 1845 to 1849. In 1857, when the University of Calcutta was established, the Free Church Institution was one of its earliest affiliates, and Duff would also serve in the university's first senate. These two institutions founded by Duff, i.e., the General Assembly's Institution and the Free Church Institution would be merged later to form the Scottish Churches College. After the unification of the Church of Scotland in 1929, the institution would be known as Scottish Church College.
Along with Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the great social reformer often called the father of modern India, Dr. Duff supported Lord Macaulay in drafting his influential Minute for the introduction of English education in India. Eminent contemporary and successive missionary scholars from Scotland, notably Dr. Ogilvie, Dr. Hastie, Dr. Macdonald, Dr. Stephen, Dr. Watt, and Dr. Urquhart contributed in spreading liberalWestern education. The institutions founded by Duff have been coterminous with other contemporary institutions like the Serampore College, and the Hindu College in ushering the spirit of intellectual inquiry and a general acceptance of the ideals of the Enlightenment among Bengali Hindus, the then dominant indigenous ethno-linguistic group in the Company administered Indian territories. This exchange of ideas and ideals, and adoption of progressive values that would eventually influence many social reform movements in South Asia, has been widely regarded by historians specializing in nineteenth century India, as the epochs of the Young Bengal Movement and later, the Bengal Renaissance.
Duff's contemporaries included Reverend Mackay, Reverend Ewart and Reverend Thomas Smith. Till the early 20th century the norm was to bring teachers from Scotland, and this brought forth scholars like William Spence Urquhart, Henry Stephen, H.M. Percival etc. Indian scholars were also engaged as teachers by the college authorities, and the notable faculty includes names like Surendranath Banerjee, Kalicharan Bandyopadhyay, Jnan Chandra Ghosh, Gouri Shankar Dey, Adhar Chandra Mukhopadhyay, Sushil Chandra Dutta, Mohimohan Basu, Sudhir Kumar Dasgupta, Nirmal Chandra Bhattacharya, Bholanath Mukhopadhyay and Kalidas Nag, all of whom had all contributed to enhancing the academic standards of the college.
The college authorities played a pioneering role in promoting gender equality by emphasizing the significance of women's education. During much of the nineteenth century, the college remained the only institution of its kind in the city of Calcutta (and indeed in the country) to promote the cause of co-education. Female students comprise half the present roll strength of the college. With the added interest of the missionaries in educational work and social welfare, the college stands as a monument to Indo-Scottish co-operation.
Under the shadow of Thy throne,
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.
Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.
A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.
Time, like an ever-rolling steam,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.
Departments and programmes
Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours)
Bachelor of Commerce (Honours)
Bachelor of Science (Honours)
Department of Bengali
Department of Business Administration
Department of Commerce
Department of Botany
Department of English
Department of Chemistry
Department of History
Department of Computer Science
Department of Philosophy
Department of Economics
Department of Political Science
Department of Mathematics
Department of Sanskrit
Department of Microbiology
Department of Physics
Department of Zoo logy
Bachelor of Education (postgraduate course for women students, offered by the Department of Teacher Education)
Master of Science in Botany (previously an autonomous course, offered by the postgraduate section of the Department of Botany, now under University of Calcutta)
Master of Science in Chemistry (previously an autonomous course, offered by the postgraduate section of the Department of Chemistry, now under University of Calcutta)
Campus and infrastructure
Scottish Church College main building
Scottish Church College Assembly Hall
The college sits on an area of six acres. It operates in seven buildings and two campuses. The main campus consists of the main building, which is among others, one of the oldest masonry pieces in the city of Kolkata and an example of colonial architecture. This has been declared a 'Heritage Building' by the statutory body constituted by the Government of West Bengal and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation. It includes the college Assembly Hall and the air-conditioned seminar room used by the departments for holding extension lectures and seminars.
The main building houses the economics, history, political science, philosophy, zoology, botany, mathematics, English, Sanskrit and Bengali departments. A separate Science annex building houses the departments of physics and chemistry. Situated in the main campus, the central library of the college is computerized. The biological science departments are in possession of a museum and a ‘poly-house’. The college is encompassed by a garden and a lawn. Many medicinal plants are grown in the garden under the care of the botany department. There are rare and non-native plants in the garden as well. The Scottish Church College campus is a ‘green’ campus with solar lighting.
Scottish Church College Millennium Building
The second campus houses the Millennium Building and the Department of Teacher Education. The college auditorium, called the M.L. Bhaumik Auditorium, is fully air-conditioned and is located in the Millennium Building. It is named after Dr. Mani Lal Bhaumik, laser scientist and an alumnus of the college. The cultural activities, special programmes, and students’extension activities are held here. The Millennium Building houses the departments of microbiology, computer science and business administration. The commerce classes, held in the morning batch of the college, are present in the Millennium Building.
A separate building houses the department of teacher education.
Track and field
The college playground is situated about a kilometer away from the college. It has a full length football field and two other medium-sized football grounds. A running track surrounds the field. A two storied permanent pavilion (‘Watt Pavilion’) stands there, with separate changing rooms for boys and girls, toilets and a store-room. The teacher-in-charge of physical education is provided residential accommodation in a part of the pavilion. Separate common rooms for male and female students, equipped with indoor game facilities like table tennis are available in the campus.
Halls of residence
The college has five hostels for its students, all of which are situated near the college. They have recreational common rooms with audio-visual equipment.
The college publications are annual and consists of contributions from students and staffs.
The Scottish Church College Magazine is published annually with contributions from past and present staff and students.
The Scottish Herald is the college newsletter and is published annually.
The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, a refereed international academic journal with an interdisciplinary approach which publishes research articles written by both experienced and young scholars all over the world, is annually published by the college. The journal discusses issues from points of view such as liberalism, empiricism, positivism, Marxism, structuralism, psychoanalysis, postmodernism, deconstruction, feminism, subaltern studies school and postcolonialism. The advisory board consists of personalities such as Amartya Sen, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Partha Chatterjee, Dipesh Chakrabarty and Amiya Kumar Bagchi.
Sanket, a short magazine, is published annually by the Scottish Church College Literary society. It was first published in 2015.
Activity clubs and extension activities
The NSS unit
The college runs the National Service Scheme programme under the University of Calcutta. Activities are carried on round the year and a special camp is held once a year. The NSS unit serves as a platform to connect students from the departments and motivate them towards community service alongside their learning process. Some of the activities include tree plantation programmes, voluntary blood donation camps, health and hygiene awareness programmes, and anti drug-abuse campaigns.
The Scottish Church College NSS unit has adopted the Dewanji Bagan slum area of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, adjacent to the college play ground, and has focused its activities in that area. The NSS unit has 100 student volunteers, one programme officer, and 10 other teachers. The students of the unit are led by two student leaders, chosen every year. Every year 50 students participate in the NSS special camp. Apart from the NSS, nine faculty members of departments are associated with different NGOs in their individual capacities.
Four faculty members and three library staff are involved with social work at an informal level in their neighbourhood. The NSS Unit organised several environment/health/hygiene-related programmes in the college in collaboration with the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia and the college's department of Teacher Education.
The volunteers of the college NSS unit participated in North-East Youth Festival, held at Arunachal Pradesh in 2012 and NSS Mega Camp held at Assam in 2013. Some of them also took part in Rock Climbing and Adventure camp at Balasore, Odisha (India) and were awarded the title of "Basic Mountaineer".
The college received four awards from the University of Calcutta for its activities in NSS. Prof. U.N. Nandi became the Best Program Officer in 2009. Parag Chatterjee, a student of Computer Science and the NSS student leader (2011–2013), was awarded "Best Volunteer" by the university. The college NSS unit received the "Best College" award in 2012, followed by Agnimeel Das, a student of Zoology receiving "Best Volunteer" in 2013.
In 2018 Agnimeel Das has been appointed as Youth Officer in N.S.S. under Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt. of India through UPSC. He is the first former N.S.S. Volunteer of West Bengal joined as Youth Officer.
Activity clubs and societies
The Scottish Church College has clubs and societies where students join and participate in intra-college or inter-college competitions.
Nature Study and Photography Club
Budding Painters' Club
Western and Indian Music Club
Dance and Drama Club
The Scottish Church College Annual Activity Day is organized by the college authorities annually, an event in which students from all departments gather to showcase their talents.
Sports and festivals
The college conducts a sports day every December, in the college playground. Students compete in track and field events. The intra-college football and cricket tournaments are held during these two days. The students also participate in other inter-college athletic meets and sports meets throughout the year. The students of the college are regulars at the sports events organized by government colleges.
Caledonia is a four-days long cultural fest. Held annually, Caledonia is one of the largest and longest running festivals in Kolkata. It serves as a great attraction for students from different colleges. Caledonia invites other colleges from all over the city to participate in events like dancing, band performance, quizzes (the Chao Quiz being a major attraction) and a photography competition called Shutter Bugs. Caledonia does not confine itself to the four walls of the college campus, but goes out into the open by holding few of its on-stage events in Urquhart Square, outside the college. The fest is organized by the college authorities.
The students’ union is the representative organization of the students. The main body of the students’ union is formed by election of class representatives. The office-bearers are chosen by these members. The president and the general secretary of the students’ union are the main representatives of the students, and they are also members of the College Senatus. It organizes cultural programmes like a freshers’ welcome, Caledonia and the Annual Social. The students' union organizes annual blood donation camps, social service related activities and recreational activities for the students.
The college is ranked fifth amongst Kolkata's top science colleges as per India Today (AC Nielsen-ORG Marg Survey of Colleges for 2006–07).
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Arts college 2007: Rank 5 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Science college 2008: Rank 3 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Arts college 2008: Rank 5 in Kolkata
India Today – Best Science college 2010: Rank 35 in India
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Science college 2010: Rank 5 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Arts college 2010: Rank 5 in Kolkata
India Today – Best Science college 2011: Rank 29 in India
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Science college 2011: Rank 2 in Kolkata
India Today – Best Arts college 2011: Rank 43 in India
India Today – Best Science college 2012: Rank 40 in India
India Today – Best Arts college 2012: Rank 41 in India
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Science college 2012: Rank 6 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Arts college 2012: Rank 5 in Kolkata
India Today – Best science college 2013: Rank 26 in India
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Science college 2013: Rank 8 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Arts college 2013: Rank 8 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Arts college 2014: Rank 7 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Science college 2015: Rank 8 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Arts college 2015: Rank 7 in Kolkata
India Today – CAMPUS WISE RANKING: Best Arts college 2015: Rank 4 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Science college 2016: Rank 5 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Arts college 2016: Rank 7 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Science college 2017: Rank 8 in Kolkata
India Today – CITY WISE RANKING:Best Arts college 2017: Rank 6 in Kolkata
The Mother Teresa International Award was conferred on the college for its outstanding achievement and contribution in the field of education. It was adjudged the best college in 2014.
Mobile app for Scottish Church College
Scottish Church College mobile app (homepage)
A mobile application was launched by the Scottish Church College on the Annual Day (13 March 2015). News and updates are notified through the application enabling students to keep up with the events and programmes of the college.
The alumni association of the college is the Scottish Church College Former Students' Association. Its objective is to keep the former students in touch with each other, and maintain links with the college. The association organizes reunion meetings and social gatherings. Departments organize their reunion meetings either bi-annually or annually in the college campus.
In West Bengal only Scottish Church College National Service Scheme Unit has their autonomous Alumni Association namely "Ten years and beyond". In 2017 first alumni meet of Ten Years and Beyond was organized.
Status and initiatives
Until 1953, administrative control over the college was exercised by the Foreign Mission Committee of the Church of Scotland. This was exercised by a local council consisting of representatives of the Church of Scotland and the United Church of Northern India. Later the Foreign Mission Committee of Church of Scotland relinquished its authority to the United Church of Northern India, and in 1970, the United Church of Northern India joined the Church of North India as a constituent body. This made the Church of North India the de facto and de jure successor (to the Church of Scotland) in running the administration of the college. As the college was founded on Christian (Protestant and Presbyterian) foundations, it derives its legal authority and status as a religious minority institution as defined by the scope of Article 30 of the Constitution of India.
The University Grants Commission sponsors the construction of the Quarto Sept Centennial Jubilee Building project of the college. The building plan has been approved by the Heritage Committee of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation for necessary approval. The construction of the new building has been completed with modern equipments and audio-visual system worth for having special lectures which can also be broadcast to other colleges through online. The building was Inaugurated by the Members of college administrative body(College Rector Dr.J.Abraham and Principal alongside)
Scottish Church College celebrated its 184th Foundation Day and its first Alexander Duff Memorial Lecture on 13 July 2013. The college welcomed Dr.S.C.Jamir, the Honorable Governor of Odisha and an alumnus of the college, who delivered the first Alexander Duff Memorial Lecture.
In January 2014, the NAAC re-accredited the General Section of the college with Grade 'A' (meaning "Very Good") in January. The Teacher Education Section was reaccredited with Grade 'B' (meaning "Good").
The college was awarded the status of "College with Potential for Excellence" for a third time, valid from April 2015 to March 2020.
Scottish Church College in popular culture
Satyajit Ray's fictional scientist-cum-investigator Professor Shonku started his career as a professor of physics at the Scottish Church College.
Satyajit Ray's fictional private investigator Feluda was a student of the Scottish Church College.
Samaresh Majumdar's bestselling novel Kalbela, which explores Calcutta's culture, politics and society in the aftermath of the 1970s Naxalite movement, won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1984. It featured the college as a backdrop in the storyline.
Samaresh Majumdar's Animesh quartet, a series of four novels (Uttoradhikar, Kalbela and Kalpurush, and Mousholkal), revolves around the life and experiences of Animesh Mitra, an alumnus, who witnesses the tumultuous socio-political transformations in post-independence West Bengal.