April 28, 2019

The Beauty of St. Stephen's College , Delhi

St. Stephen's have , always , identified with larger interests of India . It has been ,many a time , ahead of its times.

Founded , funded and Managed , from Cambridge Mission on wards ,by British and British organisations , St. Stephen's ,during British rule , at times, to the extreme displeasure of Imperial forces , toed a fiercely independent and Pro Indian and Pro nationalist line.

Mr. C.F. Andrews was the Management's choice as the College's fourth Principal ( in 1906 ). But he successfully lobbied for the candidature of Mr. Sushil Kumar Rudra , the first Indian to hold the position of Principal , St. Stphen's College ( May be the first Indian to head any Missionary Institution in India

Mr. Rudra and Mr. Andrews supported , to the extent possible , the nascent Indian Nationalist struggle under Mahatma Gandhi with whom both associated closely.

A devout Christian , Mr. Rudra deprecated Indian Christians taking up English / European names . He encouraged all his students to take pride in Indian culture and traditions and , also , Indian names be taken . At that time blindly aping the West was considered to be elitist and the in thing .

When Mahatma Gandhi was arrested ( around 1920 -Non Co-operation Movement I am not sure , Mr. Rudra , must be much to the chagrin of Imperial forces controlling India and the College ) closed the College for a day in protest. Mahatma often stayed with Mr Rudra at latter 's residence. " College House " in Kashmere Gate college premises.

Mr. Andrews having declined the post of Principal ship was out rightly open or shall we say , " blatant ' in his support to the Mahatma. His association with the Mahatma is amply shown in Richard Attenborough's  clssic movie " Gandhi " as Charlie. We have an upmarket commercial area of New Delhi named after him - Andrewsganj.
So when Indian independence came , St. Stephen's was not a foreign / imperial institution . On the contrary , some thing very Indian and very Nationalist.

After independence , St. Stephen's did not choose to become ,in any way , a minority institution associated with only Christianity but open to , and fairly ,for all Indians .

During our times ( 1975 -80 ) we never felt that St. Stephen's was associated with one religion . It was very liberal and open , may be just as during the British times .

Therein lies St. Stephen' s internal and eternal beauty