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History of The Patna University (1917-1967)
Importance of the Patna University Bill


        A battle royal was fought over the Patna University Bill in 1916 and 1917. At that time there existed only seven Universities in the whole of the region in which the Republics of India, Pakistan, Burma and the Dominion of Ceylon exist at present. A great controversy arose as to the influence the representatives of the people and the nominees of Government respectively were to exercise in the University bodies. The details of the early efforts for a democratic control over the University bodies constitute a brilliant chapter in the history of the Freedom Movement.

      As a result of the historic Despatch of Sir Charles Wood issued in 1854, the first Universities in India were established in the Presidency towns of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay in 1857. The fourth University was set up at Lahore for the Province of the Punjab in 1882 and the fifth one was established at Allahabad in 1887. All these Universities were merely affiliating bodies with colleges scattered throughout the area over which each University had jurisdiction. Up to 1882 there were very few Non-Government institutions affiliated to these Universities. But the Hunter Commission of 1882 encouraged the growth of private enterprise in the field of higher education. In 1902, the total number of affiliated Arts colleges in India was 140 of which as many as 108 were under private management. The Indian Universities Act passed in 1904 was designed to extend the powers of Universities regarding teaching and research. Lord Curzon’s Government considered the non-regulated expansion of University education responsible for the political discontent prevailing in the country and it was determined to put an effective curb on it. The majority of members of the Nathan Committee and the Government of India were profoundly influenced by the trend of ideas prevailing in the Government circle since 1904. The thought-provoking speech of Sachchidananda Sinha delivered in the Indian National Congress in 1916 makes this point clear. He said: “The real trouble is this.

The Government of India thinks that by reason of the spread of higher education and of our being nurtured on the writings of Burke, Mill and Macaulay we are demanding Self-Government”. He characterised the Patna University Bill as the most addled egg that could have been hatched by the Education Department of the Government of India. He found hardly any redeeming feature about it. He further added that there was a concerted move in the Government circle to tighten official control over higher education and to check its expansion. This proposition he supported by referring to the attempt made by Sir Harcourt Butler before the outbreak of the First World War. Butler devised a measure for the whole of India practically on the same line as the Patna University Bill. On account of the protests of Indian members of the Imperial Legislative Council and specially in view of the outbreak of the War the attempt had to be given up. Sachchidanand Sinha suggested that the Patna University Bill revived the design of Butler and attempted to reverse the tendency which prevailed in 1916 at the time of setting up the sixth and the seventh Universities in India, namely, the Banaras Hindu University and the Mysore University. The Patna University was to be the eighth in India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma. It may be mentioned in this connection that the Kothari Commission (1964-66) found sixty four Universities in 1966. But six new Universities have been set up within a year or so at Berhampur, Kanpur, Meerut, Sambalpur, Surat and Ahmedabad. Thus out of the seventy Universities existing at present in the Republic of India (i.e. excepting the University of Punjab at Lahore) our University is the seventh in point of time of establishment. It is worth noting in this connection that eight Universities came into existence within a decade of the foundation of the University of Patna. There were the Muslim University, Aligarh (1920) and the Universities at Rangoon (1920), Dacca (1921), Delhi (1922), Nagpur (1923), Andhra (1926) and Agra (1927).............



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