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INDIA TODAY

    CURRENT ISSUE JUNE 05, 2006

 

   COVER STORY: INDIA TODAY-AC NIELSEN-ORG-MARG SURVEY OF    COLLEGES

 
ARTS

St. Xavier's, Mumbai leaps to No. 1, while Presidency, Kolkata makes huge strides
  PICTURE SPEAK
ON TOP: St. Xavier's Mumbai gives students opportunities in every field
Once a Xavierite, always a Xavierite," states a blog entry on a student website. Even as the stately columns and pointed arches of the magnificent building that houses St. Xavier's, Mumbai, take a breather before the next academic year begins, students are already trooping in to discuss the upcoming inter-college festival Malhar, which is their ultimate password to fun.

This monolith on Mahapalika Marg stands for more than merit lists, sporting achievements and guitar-strumming rock bands.

Established in 1869 by the Society of Jesus as a Catholic institution, St. Xavier's, which has climbed from its fourth position last year to the impressive No.1 slot in arts this year, was recently given a five-star rating by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and the title of "College with Potential for Excellence" by the University Grants Commission (UGC). While Presidency College, Kolkata, has also moved up from last year's No. 10 slot to the second position this year, Loyola College, Chennai, has retained its third rank.

TOP 10
1 St. Xavier's College, Mumbai
2 Presidency College, Kolkata
3 Loyola College, Chennai
4 LSR College for Women, Delhi
5 St. Stephen's College, Delhi
6 St. Xavier's College, Kolkata
7 Presidency College, Chennai
8 Fergusson College, Pune
9 Hans Raj College, Delhi
10 Hindu College, Delhi
Nationalrankings are derived from a combination of perceptual and factual scores. Colleges that did not provide factual information were not ranked.
( - )Notrankedin the2005Top10.

Xavier's, Mumbai, built in the Indo-Gothic style of architecture, is categorised as a heritage structure by the heritage committee of Mumbai. The college has felt the footsteps of many well-known personalities starting from Ismail Merchant, Zubin Mehta, Amin Sayani and Charles Correa to Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, Sunil Gavaskar and Shabana Azmi. From a Rahul D'Cunha play where the plot revolves around its quadrangle to filmmaker Vijay Anand penning his first film Taxi Driver and later Nau Do Gyarha in the college canteen-St. Xavier's, Mumbai, has indeed seen many of the who's who of today.

CITYWISE RANKING
Delhi

1 LSR College for Women
2 St. Stephen's College
3 Hans Raj College
4 Hindu College
5 Miranda House College

Mumbai

1 St. Xavier's College
2 Sophia College
3 Elphinstone College
4 K J Somaiya College
5 Mithibai College

Kolkata

1 Presidency College
2 St. Xavier's College
3 Lady Brabourne College
4 City College
5 Maulana Azad College

Bangalore

1 Christ College
2 St. Joseph's College
3 Mount Carmel College
4 Jyothinivas College
5 NationalCollege,Jayanagar

Chennai

1 Loyola College
2 Presidency College
3 Stella Maris College
4 Queen Mary's College
5 Ethiraj College

Based on perceptual scores

The arts courses offered by the college lend themselves to a high degree of specialisation. "Ours is one of the only colleges that offers post-graduate courses in Ancient Indian Culture," says Principal Dr (Father) Frazer Mascarenhas, adding, "it also offers ma and Phd programmes in history, Islamic studies and ancient languages like Pali and Avestha Pahlavi." Besides the regular courses, students can also study applied components such as population studies, quantitative techniques, investment analysis, mass communication, market research techniques and law.

TOP 10
1 St. Xavier's College, Mumbai 4
2 Presidency College, Kolkata 10
3 Loyola College, Chennai 3
4 LSR College for Women, Delhi 1
5 St. Stephen's College, Delhi 6
6 St. Xavier's College, Kolkata 7
7 Presidency College, Chennai 2
8 Fergusson College, Pune 5
9 Hans Raj College, Delhi -
10 Hindu College, Delhi 8

Mascarenhas says: "Our arts section is very strong-especially our economics, English and psychology departments. Last year alone, 27 of our students were felicitated by the Bombay University-the highest number ever from one college in the city." With three rank-holders in the arts stream and top scorers in psychology, economics, history and mathematics, the laudable track-record of Xavier's also includes 11 rank-holders at the HSC level.

  PICTURE SPEAK
NO. 2: Presidency College, Kolkata
St. Xavier's, Mumbai, is just the place if it's all-round development you're looking for. It has many stars in the extra-curricular domain. Alyque Padamsee, the master showman, graduated from the college and started his theatre career in 1949 in the dramatics group of St. Xaviers. Son Quasar followed in his footsteps and plunged into theatre at the college, directing some of his earliest plays on the floorboards of the auditorium. Quasar, who formed a theatre group called Q Theatre Productions with like-minded Xavierites, gained his inspiration from the annual college theatre festival Ithaka. For others like actor Vidya Balan, "it's the perfect place for opportunity. Like its college song, Xavier's gives you wings, literally," she says.

Although the mention of the college conjures up images of guitar-strumming teenagers, Xavier's saw the birth of the Indian Music Group (IMG), that continues to be widely popular among its students who have been queuing up to be its volunteers. Since its inception in 1973, the IMG has been documenting Carnatic and Hindustani classical music. It holds a large number of programmes throughout the year, but the three-day-long Jan Fest is the one that brings the group all the attention it deserves. Organised by the IMG, the Jan fest has seen maestros such as Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Shubha Mudgal, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Ustad Rashid Khan and Pandit M.S. Gopalakrishnan perform live.

And who can forget Malhar, one of the biggest inter-college festivals in Mumbai, conducted by St. Xavier's? Held annually in August since its inception in 1979, it has seen mega sponsorships pouring in for the event. The participation of Bollywood stars has managed to improve its standing and maximise it into a virtual marketing and entertainment whirlwind.

FROM THE PRINCIPAL
"Despite STRICT emphasis on discipline, students have fun here."
FRAZER MASCARENHAS, ST. XAVIER'S

The college's tryst with culture has resulted in Ithaka, a drama and poetry group-it shares its name with the festival-where students write, direct and act in their own plays. The floorboards are the planks where talents like Farooque Sheikh and Shabana Azmi took their first curtain calls. Actor Renuka Shahane fondly remembers: "Xavier's helped me get over my stage fright and that's how I became an actor." And current students are just as proud. Says second year student Ranjit Upadhyay, "Here we take up humanities because we enjoy it and not because we haven't got admission in science and commerce subjects. The teachers are excellent and there is ample scope for extracurricular activities." Adds Gandhali Karnik, a third year student reading English literature, "We have an eclectic mix of studies and a plethora of cultural events. The opportunities here help us develop our intellectual abilities." The college also concentrates on social work and has blood donation camps.

But does the strict dress code-no sleeveless tops and capris within the college premises-bother students? As Mascarenhas puts it: "We have a minimalist dress code and despite the strict emphasis on discipline, students, teachers and principal have fun on the campus."

The college seeks to provide all-round education, both human and spiritual. And the fun and frolic are balanced with students' participation in the Social Involvement Programme, where they are put in touch with over 60 NGOs that work in and around Mumbai. "We want our students to be in touch with reality. We are trying to bring change to society by making it more just and equitable," says Mascarenhas.

While St. Xavier's focuses on the critical and creative thinking of students, other colleges aren't lagging behind either. Presidency, Kolkata has been granted autonomous status this academic year by its former student, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. The college has certainly been a class apart. Its students have not just become some of the best-known literary figures in Bengal, they had, at one time, inspired a revolution as well. Other features that mark this college are the launch of a satellite interactive terminal with the UGC-CEC last year and a Foundation for Academic Excellence and Access (FAEA) programme, as part of which underprivileged students are helped with computer training, personality development and communication skills.

Loyola College, Chennai, which retains its third position, too focuses on overall grooming. Students are trained to execute social services. It is the unique and meaningful blend of theory and application that these colleges have, over the years, learnt to perfect.

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JUNE 05, 2006
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