Bihar’s oldest college to revive ‘royal link’

Bihar’s oldest college, which turned 150 years old this month, is planning to revive a forgotten financial link with the bygone royalty by resuming distribution of scholarships and awards set up by the erstwhile princely families and philanthropists of yore.

Several senior clerks at Patna College in the Bihar capital are currently looking through old, dusty files and registers to draw up a complete list of the original donors so that their current descendants could be approached with requests for reviving the scholarships and awards. While these financial encouragements to meritorious students were discontinued by the college authorities decades ago without much intelligible cause, the funds donated regularly have piled up in various post offices and bank accounts.

Quite a few of these forgotten scholarships and awards for various subjects chosen by the donors had been instituted well before India became independent, said college officials. Most of the pre-Independence donors were the British and India’s royal and wealthy families.

“We have decided to trace all the descendants of the original donor families and then approach them with a request to participate in a round-table discussion here to talk about reviving these glorious scholarships that somehow went missing from the institution’s horizon. It is good to take up this initiative when Patna College has just proudly celebrated its 150th year of birth,” said Patna University (PU) vice-chancellor Shambhu Nath Singh.

Donations lying in the banks and post offices for several decades are expected to be of considerably high value at current market rates. While the lowest amount pledged, `1,000, was for the John Abraham Award, the highest, `1.02 lakh, was for the Syed Kazi Raza Hussain Scholarship. PU officials hope the donations kept coming without a break even after the scholarships stopped being distributed.

The original donors’ rightful descendants, if traced out and eventually gathered at a meeting in Patna, would be given a choice to change the original subjects of study for the scholarships and awards, said Prof Singh. “They can, if they want, include contemporary subjects and also make changes to the scholarship amounts,” he added.

Established in 1862, Patna College has been an integral part of Bihar’s socio-political growth story. The first session of the Bihar Legislative Council was held in its seminar hall on January 20, 1913. The centenary celebrations were marked the event earlier this month.

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