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History of College

It comes to the honour of very few institutions to celebrate golden, platinum or diamond jubilee of their existence, but celebrating post centenary golden jubilee is a rarity. Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Government College, erstwhile known as RANDHIR COLLEGE, Kapurthala is one such institution, and rather only one in the whole of Punjab which has entered the 150th year of its establishment.


It was established as a Sanskrit Vidyalya and named Randhir School in the year 1856 by the visionary ruler of Kapurthala, His Highness Raja Randhir Singh. It happens to be the same year in which three universities in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay were established under the new education policy based on the Woods Dispatches of 1854. The students used to sit under a Peepal tree, under which Havan Kund was erected, and get education in the traditional Guru-Shishya Parampara. This 200 year old Peepal tree still adorns the college premises. In 1864 teaching up to the entrance standard was introduced and the European Mr.Hudesn was appointed as principal in 1871.


Four languages, Urdu, Persian, Sanskrit and English were taught by this time. Apart from Sanskrit education of Priyjna, Visharad and Shashtri, it taught up to matriculation standard and was affiliated to Calcutta University in 1877. Till the year of 1882, when Punjab University Lahore was set up, it remained affiliated to the Calcutta University. Being the only institution of higher learning in the region, the students from other princely states and neighbouring British ruled districts of Jullundur and Hoshiarpur were also studying here, whose number had swelled to 280 by 1978-79. Most of these students were staying in the boarding. The institution made rapid strides in the field of education under the able guidance of three European Principals, Mr.Hudsen, Mr.A.R.Wood and Mr.A.W.Healy till the year of 1890 as Maharaja was a minor and the control of the state was in the hands of English Administrators.


On assuming active control in 1890, H.H. Maharaja Jagatjit Singh started taking keen interest in the education system of the state and raised it to intermediate college in 1896. The subjects of natural sciences were also added to the curriculum of the college during this period. Maharaja having a great love for French, introduced the language in college in 1916 and this became the only institution teaching French in the region. To accomodate the rising number of students, a new U-shaped building was constructed around old Peepal tree, consisting of modern day classrooms and verandas in the year 1912, commemorating the visit of H.H. the king emperor of India and was inaugurated on April 7, 1913 by Sir Louis Dane, the then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab. This building is known as U-block and the classes are held in this even today, with the old Peepal tree still being intact and witness to the old as well as the modern methods of teaching in one.


In the year of 1916, the college Jubilee Hall was constructed in commemoration of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of Installation of Maharaja Jagatjit Singh to the throne. It is a magnificent building with the touches of French architecture. It was constructed with multipurpose use as examination hall, conference hall and reading corridors of the library. In 1930 the college library was also housed in this mammoth building and remained there for a long time.


According to the Punjab University Lahore's Calendar of 1918-19, total 27 institutions of higher learning were affiliated to it by the time. Apart from 24 intermediate and degree colleges, two were medical and one agriculture institution. Randhir College stands oldest in the region established as an institution. The two other prominent institutions of the area, Mohindera College, Patiala and Khalsa College Amritsar were established as schools in the year of 1870 and 1893 respectively and promoted to intermediate and degree colleges in the later years. Only exception was Edwards College Peshawar which was established as school in 1855. Even the most famous of the times Government College Lahore and Foreman Christian College Lahore were established as schools in 164 and 1866 respectively.


The college was re-organized on the lines suggested by Lord Curzon's commission in 1905 and Mr.Manohar Lal was appointed the Principal cum DPI of all the educational institutions of the state. Principal Manohar Lal was succeeded by Mr.H.Y.Langhorne, M.A.Cantab in 1910. It was during his tenure that the number of students increased drastically in the schools and college of the state. The high priority and the status attached to the education by state rulers is evident from the fact that the salary paid to the principal and teachers was much higher than the other functionaries of the state. Principal Langhorne was getting a monthly salary of Rs.400 per month plus Rs.100 as special allowance, where as the professors were paid a monthly salary of Rs.275 per month. In comparison, the salaries drawn by the Sessions Judge, Magistrate, A.G., S.P. and CMO were Rs.425, Rs.325, Rs.275 and Rs.250 respectively. Only Chief Judge was getting a salary of Rs.550 per month, higher than the principal. In these days the normal salary of the clerks and other lower rung functionaries used to be in the range of Rs.15 to Rs.30 per month. Lala Mathura Dass, who succeeded as principal of the college in the year of 1914, on October 29, 1914 to be more precise, was appointed in the grade of 150-15-325. he was a remarkable scholar and a school after his name was established in the city and is still functional as MDSD Senior Secondary School. The other prominent teaches of the time included Lala Tej Ram, of Maths, S.Arbel Singh, (later principal o the college), Sh.Jagmohan Lal of English and History, Mr.Mohamad Ali of Persian and Arabic and Pandit Shri Ram of Sanskrit.


Since a large number of students were from other states and far flung areas, a majority of them were staying in the boarding. A serai, named Victoria Serai ws erected for their accommodation and later on a massive boys hostel, exclusively for the college students was constructed in the year 1920. The education was free for Oriental students and even lodging and boarding expenses of them were borne by 'Dharam-Arth' department of the state. Till the construction of hostel, these students used to be accomodated in the Panj Mandri, an old mandir in the city. The poor, but otherwise meritorious students were given stipend of Rs.4 to Rs.10 per month by Kumar Amarjit Singh, B.A. (Captain), son of Maharaja Jagatjit Singh.


How popular this institution became in the region is evident from the rise in number of students, which was 110 in 1912, 37 being in Oriental section and 73 being in college. It rose to 175 in 1915 and 272 in 1925. The strength remained steady in the coming years, with about 200 students being in the college and around 40 to 45 in the oriental section. Four more languages, Urdu, French, Hindi and Gurmukhi were added in 1916-17 apart from English, Arabian, Persian and Sanskrit taught earlier, taking the total to eight. Majority of the students were offering English, Persian and Urdu. Those taking Arabic, French and Gurmukhi were comparatively lesser. Usually half of the students were Muslims as about 60 percent of the population of the state consisted of Muslim population prior to the partition of the country. In 1935 the evening classes were also started in photography, shorthand and type writing and many working students availed this facility to rise up in the career.


The co-education classes were started in 1943 with only 12 girls joining the college at that time. However, their number grew to 21 in 1945-46, which was too meager in the total strength of 233 students. How orthodox the society was, is apparent from the fact that there used to be a veil in the center of the classroom, which separated the girl students from the boys. But Maharaja Jagatjit Singh was committed to women education and opened exclusive schools for girls in the other towns of the state.


Taking further strides, degree classes in Arts and Science were started in 1946 and the college became a post-graduate institution in 1976 by introducing M.A. English. At present the college has post-graduation in three subjects, viz. English, Economics and Commerce. Three new courses, PGDCA, B.Sc. Computer Science and B.Sc. Economics have been introduced in 2006 on self-finance basis and a computer lab with 20 terminals has been provided for.


The college also excelled in the field of sports and teams in Football, Hocky, Cricket and Tennis participated in various university tournaments. A valuable trophy in Cricket and Football was started in 1909 to encourage the sports. As a result of these efforts, the college Football team got very strong and became champion by winning Intermediate College University Tournament for the first time in 1929. Boxing, Baseball and Basketball were introduced in 1931 and many good players were produced. It became a nursery of Basketball in the later years and produced a number of international players, like Arjuna Awardee Sajjan Singh Cheema, Arjuna Awardee Parminder Singh Bhandal and many more, who represented India in Asia and other international matches. Kabaddi was another game in which the collegd has the distinction of producing the likes of Sarwan Singh Bal, international player and Kabaddi coach.


Annual Education Durbar

An annual Education Durbar used to be held every year in the month of February or March in the college campus with H.H. Maharaja Jagatjit Singh presiding over it. Annual report of the college used to be read by the principal of the college-cum-DPI of the state. The results and performance of the other educational institutions in the state was also presented on the occasion. A Gold Medal, worth Rs.100 was awarded by Maharaja to that student who stood first in F.A. exam in the college and Silver Medal was given to the topper in Oriental Section. All the higher authorities of education department used to be present and prizes were given to the students who excelled in the field o education or sports. At the close of the function, H.H. Maharaja Sahib used to address the students and make major announcements concerning the education.


Eminent Alumnus:

Randhir College with a rich alumnus has the honour of producing some of the finest students in its long history of 150 years. They include Late S.Swarn Singh, Ex-foreign Minister of India, Ghulam Mohammed, Ex-Governor of Pakistan, S.Balwant Singh, Ex-finance Minister of Punjab, S.Gulzar Singh and S.Jagtar Singh Multani both Ex-Ministers of Punjab, S.Kirpal Singh Dhillon, an Ex-MLA, Dr.Upinderjit Kaur MLA & Ex-Ministers, S.Raghbir Singh, Ex-Minister, Mr.Jaspal Singh, Ex-IP Officer and later minister in Govt. of Gujrat. A large number of Civil Servants and other higher officials, including Mr.A.N.Kashyap, Ex-Chief Secretary of Punjab, Mr.D.S.Jaspal, Principal Secretary, Information and Public Relations, Ms.Bhavna Garg, IAS, Dr.Inderjeet Kaur Barthakur, Ex-Consultant to Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India, Mr.G.S.Aujla, IPS DGP Punjab, Mr.D.L.Kashyap, IPS, Mr.Jaspal Singh IPS, Mr.R.P.Mittal, IPS and many others remained on the rolls of this prestigious institution. Players of the international fame in the Basketball, Arjuna Awardee Sajjan Singh Cheema, Parminder Singh Bhandal, Mubark Ai of Pakistan, and many others were the products of this college. In the intellectual and literary field, it has to its credit Sohan Singh Meesha and Surjit Pattar, the two great poets, apart from Rajwinder Singh, the German poet laureate. In cinema and theatre, the film actor Promod Moutho and Harvinder Kaur Babli of National School of Drama and and many other screen performers are proud products of the college. In the field of education, this institution produced a large number of teachers, lecturers and principals.


But alas, this institution with a glorious past, today is in neglect. Many others that came in years later are far ahead of it because of the infrastructural deficiencies. The college hostel, which once accommodated more than 70 students from far-flung areas was demolished and acquired by PUDA in 2000 with the promise of building a new one, but it still remains a promise. The college needs urgently a modern academic block, which too has not transcended from te laying of foundation stone in 2004. With tears in its eyes, this alma-mater begs from its alumnus, who are high-ups and occupying respectable positions in various fields, to return it her previous shine and glory in form of new building, equipment, sports complex and plenty of funds so that it may produce many others like them.

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2021 Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Government College, Kapurthala.

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