Agra: St John’s College turns 170

Agra: One of the most prestigious educational institutions of north India, Agra’s St John’s College on Wednesday celebrated its 170th foundation day.

Its majestic red sandstone building in Indo-Saracenic architecture was lit up and thanksgiving prayers were held.

Over the years, St John’s College has provided a steady stream of distinguished academics and professionals ranging from presidents, governors, civil servants, sportspersons and missionary leaders.

Established in 1850 by the Church Missionary Society of England through the efforts of the Agra C.M.S. Association which came into being in 1840, the first Principal of the College was Rev Thomas Valpy French, a distinguished fellow of University College, Oxford.

Initially, the College formulated its own curriculum and conducted its own examination. From 1862 to 1888 the College remained affiliated to Calcutta University and later up to 1927 to the Allahabad University.

When the Agra University was established in 1927, the then principal of the College A.W. Davies became its first Vice-Chancellor and the college was affiliated to the Agra University.

The college’s centenary wing’s foundation stone was laid in 1958 by former president Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and was opened by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister with the words “I have come to pay tribute to this temple of learning.”

The present principal Prof S.P. Singh recalled the great contribution of educationists to India’s development adding that the alumni had brought name and glory to India, from all parts of the world. The college has a long list of distinguished alumni, including former President Shankar Dayal Sharma, Congress leader Khurshid Alam Khan, former Governors Shailendra Singh, S.M.H. Burney, diplomat Meera Shankar, he added.

Sportsperson Harvijay Bahia recalled how the college teams had won laurels at the state and national levels in basketball, football and even cricket.

“This college has given me a new confidence and identity. Everywhere I go there are St Johnians contributing to society’s development in myriad ways,” said former student Rajiv Gupta.

The grand architectural elegance of the college building attracts tourists. A few films have also been shot including Lal Patthar.

“The architectural brilliance is harmony with the Mughal ethos of the city and adds to the rich heritage of Agra,” said senior photographer Vishal of the Nice Studio.

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