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 CURRENT ISSUE MAY 13, 2002  

EXCLUSIVE INDIA TODAY- GALLUP SURVEY

Arts

Chennai's 162-year-old Presidency College takes over at the top, while the increasingly competitive academic content of Kolkata's St Xavier's ensures it the No. 2 slot for the second consecutive year

By Arun Ram and Sharmila Dhal

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"Best wishes for generating nearly two million graduates for the country."

There are colleges and colleges, graduates and graduates. When India's missile man A.P.J. Abdul Kalam scribbled these words in the visitor's diary of Presidency College, Chennai, on April 4, 2002, he was obviously referring to the latter category. Established by Professor Eyre Burton Powell in 1840, the Chennai Presidency, the second-oldest college in the country, remains a frontrunner in education, even unseating the Kolkata Presidency to occupy the No. 1 position in India Today's list in arts this year.

Traditionally considered a factory of the best scientific minds-Sir C.V. Raman leads the pack-the "Mother of Madras University" has surged ahead in Arts. It is perhaps the only college that offers the maximum number of arts and science degrees in two languages. The economics, history and political science departments conduct undergraduate courses in both English and Tamil, as does the science faculty. "There are many who are not proficient in English but have a sharp mind to pursue either discipline," says Principal C. Natarajan.

ARTS - RANKING BY KEY FACTORS
COLLEGE

Academic Input

 

Reputation Curriculum Infrastructure Student Care Admission Procedure Job / Placement Procedure Rank Factual Rank

Presidency College, Chennai

2 1 3 1 7 1 3 1 8
St.Xaviers College, Kolkatta 7 4 1 2 2 7 1 2 10

Madras Christian College, Chennai
5 3 2 3 9 2 5 3 7

St.Xaviers College, Mumbai
3 2 5 5 3 6 10 4 2

Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi
1 5 7 4 1 11 9 5 3

Presidency College, Kolkatta
8 7 6 7 8 4 4 8 2

Loyola College, Chennai
6 8 4 9 4 3 7 7 10

St.Stephens College, Delhi
4 6 8 8 5 5 7 7 10
Ranks are only for individual parameters. The final rank is based on differing weightage given to these factors
FERTILE GROUND: Politics is a coveted subject at Chennai's Presidency College

 

Yet another reason why this autonomous institution excels is its effort to provide education to the underprivileged. Besides free tuitions, 40 students are given free noon meals. The college has also taken 40 visually impaired students under its wings.

Political science remains the most coveted subject. Says Professor V.N. Viswanathan: "Our students pursue politics as a profession. A few of them are panchayat members too." No wonder then that the college's list of political heavyweights include former Union minister V.K. Krishna Menon, former President S. Radhakrishnan and Chennai Mayor M.K. Stalin. Public administration is another sought-after post-graduate subject.

STATE OF ART: Modern facilities help cast Kolkata's St Xavier's in a new mould

But the 162-year-old Presidency is shedding its image as a prime supplier for civil services and politics. Its revised syllabus, to be introduced in 2001-2, aims to acquaint students with the perks of choosing the private sector as a career option. BA (history) will include two papers on tourism and archaeology, while public administration will include environment administration and human resource management.

TOP 10 COLLEGES
1 Presidency College, Chennai, 2001 (4), 2000 (3)
2 St XAvier's College, Kolkata, 2001 (2), 2000 (9)
3 Madras Christian College, Chennai, 2001 (9), 2000 (7)
4 St XAvier's College, Mumbai, 2001 (5), 2000 (1)
5 Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, 2001 (3), 2000 (6)
6 Presidency College, Kolkata, 2001 (1), 2000 (4)
7 Loyola College, Chennai, 2001 (5), 2000 (2)
8 St Stephen's College, Delhi, 2001 (7), 2000 (5)
9 Ferguson College, Pune, 2001 (8), 2000 (11)
10 Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi, 2001 (10), 2000 (14)
Figures in brackets denote previous years' ranking

Research has also always flourished in the Presidency. In 2001-2, doctorates were awarded to 34 scholars, including 20 in Arts. But it's not the numbers that count. It's the value it commands.

St Xavier's College, Kolkata, retained its No. 2 position in Arts this year thanks to its increasingly competitive academic content. The days when it was dismissed as a brick-and-mortar recreation of a Bollywood institution are over. A fully equipped computer lab, an audio-visual room and a professional studio with an editing room have helped cast the college in a new mould.

The most creditable surge this year has been that of Madras Christian College. From last year's 9th place, it has moved up to 3rd. Academics apart, the 365-acre campus with a cricket ground with Australian turf, athletics track and football field continue to be a major draw.

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