After the Revolt of 1857, Indian luminaries of that period saw a pressing need to modernise the education system to fight against British imperialism by democratic means. Indian Nationalists such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, and social reformer Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and Mahadev Namjoshi put their efforts into the formation of a school for their countrymen. The result was The New English School. Boosted by its success, the Deccan Education Society was formed in 1884 and a year later the Fergusson College was founded. An area of 37 acres (150,000 m2) of land were donated for one rupee on a 99-year lease by Shirole, the erstwhile Patil of the village of Bhamburde (now called Shivaji Nagar) on the West bank of the Mutha river.
The college was inaugurated by William Wordsworth, the grandson of the famous poet and principal of Elphinstone College in Bombay. Other leaders such as R G Bhandarkar and M G Ranade played a part in the construction of the college. The college was named after the then Governor of Bombay, Sir James Fergusson. The British colonial Government in Bombay allowed the college to remain autonomous, giving it a free hand in education.
In 1935, the college completed fifty years of existence. Sir CV Raman, India's only Science Nobel laureate at that time, was the president of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations. He quoted in his speech,
. Mahatma Gandhi, in a message to then Principal Dr. Mahajani wrote,
Post-1947, Fergusson College has produced leaders in the fields of politics, academia, literature and art. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India's first president, was the chief guest of the platinum jubilee function. He said on the occasion,
In 1985, the college completed its centenary. Rajiv Gandhi, the then prime minister was the president of the ceremony. PV Narasimharao, India's 12th Prime Minister and former student, quoted,
A two-part history of the college has been written by Dr. VM Bachal, former Principal of the College. The book, titled Vatchal Sawashe Varshanchi (A Journey of 125 Years) was published in January 2010.
Fergusson College has been given many epithets by political leaders, including 'cradle of Indian polity' and 'twin of the Congress'.
The founders of Fergusson College, most notably Tilak and Gokhale, were amongst the leaders of the Indian National Congress in its early stages from 1885 to 1920. In fact, most historians divide the history of the INC into two eras- the Tilak Era and the Gandhi era. The college has produced as alumni, notable Congress leaders including Vishwanath Pratap Singh and PV Narasimha Rao, Jivatram Kripalani and Babubhai J Patel. (See comprehensive list below)
Amongst the founders, Agarkar and Namjoshi were early Socialists of Maharashtra. Alumni such as Vitthal Ramji Shinde, S.M. Joshi, and Nanasaheb Gore were eminent socialists, both inside and outside the Congress fold. The Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, founded to fight for Maharashtra's statehood, included several alumni such as Prahlad Keshav Atre, SM Joshi and Gore. V.D savarkar in 1902, he enrolled in Fergusson College, in Pune . As a young man, he was inspired by the new generation of radical political leaders namely Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai along with the political struggle against the partition of Bengal and the rising Swadeshi campaign. After completing his degree, nationalist activist Shyamji Krishna Varma helped Vinayak to go to England to study law, on a scholarship. It was during this period
Fergusson is the only institution in India to have amongst its alumni two Indian Prime Ministers.
From the 37 acres (150,000 m2) leased out by Shirole, the erstwhile Patil of Bhamburde in 1881, the college expanded to 65 acres (260,000 m2) by the time of Independence. The road that runs along the college is named after it and is one of the busiest in Pune. The campus extends until the slopes of a hillock, popularly called Fergusson Hill. Several educational institutions are situated around the hillock. The college is largely built in accordance with the Victorian school of architecture, although it has some Gothic and traditional Indian styles as well.
The Main Building is situated at the inner entrance of the college. Built entirely in Victorian style, the two-storey structure houses the central office, as well as the principals' chambers. The Statistics and Psychology Departments lie to the east of the main building; and the Economics Department to the west. The computer science and the life science buildings are also located to the west.
On the southern side, the RP Paranjpye building, along with the Pittie Chemistry building, Botany, Zoology, Geology, Electronics and Physics departments are located. The building overlooks the central garden to the north and has two lecture halls and the staffs' chambers. The college in all has fifty-five laboratories and fifty-one lecture halls.
The three-storeyed amphitheatre building, located to the west of the central garden, has Victorian-Gothic influences. Apart from several lecture halls, the building houses an auditorium with a capacity of one thousand persons. This famous amphitheater recently celebrated its 100 years.
Bai Jerbai Wadia Library was built in 1929 by industrialists Sir Cusrow Wadia and Sir Ness Wadia in memory of their mother. The Main Library on the ground floor has more than 3,00,000 books and research journals. Research scholars and book-lovers have donated their collections.
The first floor (the floor above the ground floor) of the library serves as a Reading Hall for students and accommodates 400 students. The floors above this floor are not publicly accessible without prior arrangement and house books, manuscripts and articles of historic and cultural importance. The library has of a collection of statues and posters, dedicated to national leaders and educationalists. The building was extended in 1955, with government grants and then in 1982 with grants from the Central government.
Kimaya is an open-air theatre on the north side of the campus. It was conceived by litterateur and alumni PL Deshpande on his return from a visit to Japan. It is a student hang-out and most of the students' activities are held there. It encompasses elements of modern architecture and is built without beams. It has eight walls fused together, which function as trusses.
The 2-acre (8,100 m2) Botanical Gardens on the campus were founded in 1902 by a teacher, Professor Shevade. It is known for its medicinal plants and wild ferns. Botany students from the college planted specimens here, including Elaeocarpus, Araucaria and Mahogany. 1961, the garden was destroyed when the nearby Panshet dam was breached. Years later, it was reinstated by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), the Association of Herbal Drugs and Deccan Education Society. Some plants found there are Saraca Indica (Sita Ashok), the bark of which is used to heal skin diseases and as a tonic; and Terminalia arjuna, the extract of which is used to treat jaundice.
Cricket, hockey and football are played on the main ground which has a drainage system, enabling play during monsoon. Two asphalted basketball courts are located next to the main ground. A second ground, situated to the south, has courts for volleyball and handball; as well as facilities for Indian sports like Kabaddi, Kho-Kho and Mallakhamb. Services for badminton and several other indoor games are available, and the Gymnasium Building provides training for boxing, wrestling, judo, weight lifting and yoga. The college has tennis courts on the eastern side of the campus.
The new academic complex was built in 2004 at the northern end of the campus. Unlike the other buildings, it is designed in a modern functionalist style. It houses the Junior College and the DES Law College.
For students, there are six hostel blocks, four blocks for boys and two blocks for girls. The total intake capacity of the hostel is 587 students. The gents hostel blocks are located to the north of the campus and the ladies hostel blocks lie to the east of the campus. The college has some quarters for the faculty and staff of the college and also for employees of other DES Institutes. The spacious bungalows, built on the old British design, near the main gate and the ladies’ hostel gate, have a colonial-era charm.
The Principal of the college resides in an independent bungalow at the main entrance of the college. Some members of the teaching staff have also been provided with residential facilities on the campus. This facility includes independent bungalows. There are some flats constructed with financial aid from the UGC.
The college shares its campus with the Institute of Management Development and Research, Pune (IMDR), and Jaganath Rathi Vocational Guidance and Training Institute (JRVGTI), both governed by the Deccan Education Society. Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC), established in 1943, is closely associated with Fergusson College. At the northern end of the campus, next to the New Academic Building, lies DES Law College.
The Deccan Gymkhana area of western Pune is well known for its educational institutes. Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Marathwada College of Commerce and Symbiosis International University are the other well-known colleges situated around the Hanuman Tekdi hillock that overlooks Fergusson. Also located nearby are the ILS Law College, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute the Agarkar Research Institute.
In 2004, Fergusson College was awarded an 'A' grade by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). The College also received the "Best College Award" amongst the colleges affiliated to the University of Pune in the academic year 2004-2005.
Fergusson College has ranked amongst the top ten arts and science colleges in India for the past twelve years in the annual survey conducted by India Today-AC Nielsen-ORG-MARG and published in India Today, an Indian magazine. Within the state of Maharashtra, it is consistently ranked second in both science and arts, behind St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.N. H. Antia (1922–2007) - plastic surgeon and Padma Shri recipient
Radhika Apte (born 1985) - actress
Padmanabhan Balaram - biochemist, Padma Bhushan recipient
Pooja Batra (born 1979) – actress and model, Miss India 1993
Milind Date - Composer, Flautist
Bhaskar Chandavarkar (1936–2009) – Sitar player, academic and composer
P. L. Deshpande (1919–2000) - Marathi writer and humorist
Madhav Gadgil (born 1942) - ecologist
Chandrashekhar Agashe (1888-1956) - industrialist
Ram Ganesh Gadkari (1885-1919) - Marathi playwright, poet and writer
Prahlad Kakkar (born 1950) - ad film maker
Suresh Kalmadi (born 1944) - politician and sports administrator
D. R. Kaprekar (1905–1986), mathematician, discovered Kaprekar's constant and the Kaprekar number
Dattatreya Gopal Karve (1898–1967) – economist, first principal of Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce
Irawati Karve (1905–1970) – sociologist, anthropologist, educationist, and writer
J. B. Kripalani (1888–1982) – Indian independence activist, former president of the Indian National Congress
Sonali Kulkarni (born 1974) - film actress, columnist and writer
Shriram Lagoo (born 1927) - film and theatre actor
Shital Mahajan (born 1982) - skydiver, Padma Shri recipient
Kiran Nagarkar (born 1942) - playwright, novelist
Bhalchandra Nemade (born 1938) – Marathi language writer, Padma Shri and Jnanpith Award recipient
R. P. Paranjpe (1876–1966) - mathematician, first Indian to become Senior Wrangler at Cambridge University, former principal of Fergusson College
Burgula Ramakrishna Rao (1899–1967) – activist for freedom of Hyderabad State, 2nd Chief Minister of the state
P. V. Narasimha Rao (1921–2004) - 12th Prime Minister of India
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883–1966) - Indian independence activist, Hindu nationalist advocate, president of the Hindu Mahasabha
Mohommed Ali Shah (born 1979) – theatre and film actor
Vitthal Ramji Shinde (1873–1944) - social activist, founder of Depressed Classes Mission in Mumbai
Vishwanath Pratap Singh (1931–2008) - 7th Prime Minister of India
Pandurang Vasudeo Sukhatme (1911–1997) - statistician
S. R. Rana (1870–1957) - Indian political activist
The majors offered are as follows.Economics Masters PhD
Botany Masters PhD
Computer Science Masters
Electronic Science Masters PhD
Environment Science Masters
Physics Masters PhD
B.Voc. Media & Communication
B.Voc. Digital Art & Animation
Vocational Still Photography & Audio-Visual Production
Vocational Electronic Equipment Maintenance
Master of Computer Applications
M.Tech (Industrial Mathematics with Computer Applications)
Vocational Mass Comm.
The National Cadet Corps in India is a voluntary organization which recruits cadets from high schools and colleges. The cadets are given military training in small arms and parades. Cadet training began in Fergusson College in 1921 with the University Training Corps unit which had two platoons. In 1926, the UTC strength of increased from two to three platoons. In June 1930, one platoon of the College of Engineering was transferred to the Fergusson College and since then Fergusson College enjoyed the privilege of contributing full company- α Coy and was reputed as The Best Drilling Company.
There are two units of NCC in Fergusson College- Army wing and Navy wing. In the Army wing, cadets are trained by the representative of the Armed forces at the junior and senior level. They are seen as future officers or army personnel or as possible reserves in the case of national emergency. In the Naval wing, cadets are trained as per the naval rules and discipline at the senior as well as on junior level. They are also considered as reserves, second in line of defence in case of the national emergency. Apart from these, the open units in the college are Girls Wing, Air Wing, Signal Wing, Armed Squadron and Medical Wing.
NSS is a community service program sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India. The Motto of the NSS is ‘Not Me But You’, and its objective is developing the personality of the student through Community Service.
The NSS Unit of Fergusson College was started in 1975 with about 50 students. Presently the NSS Unit consists of about 200 students from senior college and 100 students from Junior college. The activities of the NSS are to help the students understand community, their relation with community, National Integration, and Social problems.
The photography department, with contributions from current and former students, brings out an e-magazine, Fergzine.