Sri Pratap College, a venerable educational institution nestled in the heart of the Kashmir Valley, unfolds a history that spans over a century. Established with a commitment to delivering quality education, this institution has been a cornerstone in shaping the academic and cultural heritage of the region. This article delves into the college’s history, evolution, and its profound impact on education and culture in Kashmir.
The genesis of Sri Pratap College is intricately woven into the socio-political fabric of early 20th-century Kashmir. A period marked by transformative changes, including the infusion of modern education and the rise of progressive ideologies.
At the helm of the college’s establishment stands the prominent Irish theosophist and freedom fighter, Dr. Annie Besant. Deeply influenced by Hindu philosophy and Indian culture, Dr. Besant envisioned a college that would impart education rooted in Vedantic philosophy. Her aspirations materialized with the creation of the Central Hindu College in Banaras (Varanasi) in 1898.
As the demand for quality education in the Kashmir Valley grew in the early 20th century, Dr. Besant initiated a project to establish a school in Srinagar embodying her ideals of education and cultural exchange. Named Sir Pratap Singh Hindu School, in honor of Maharaja Pratap Singh, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, the school came into existence before 1911.
Functioning initially as an intermediate college affiliated with the University of Allahabad, the school aimed to provide education to the youth of Kashmir, fostering a spirit of unity. Guided by the first Principal, Prof. M.C. Moore, an Irish scholar and Cambridge University graduate, the school officially became an intermediate college in 1905.
Under Dr. Annie Besant’s visionary leadership, the college flourished. Despite starting with a modest eight students and six teachers, enrollment steadily increased. Dr. Besant’s commitment to fostering unity between Pandit and Muslim students led to the introduction of a “common tea club system” within the college—a revolutionary move at the time.
However, the association with Dr. Annie Besant and the college’s early years were not without controversy. Concerns from the British government led to the gradual shift of the college’s management to the Jammu and Kashmir government in 1912. The institution was renamed “Sri Pratap College,” dropping the term “Hindu” to project a more secular identity, and it became affiliated with the Punjab University in Lahore.
The college’s academic horizon expanded significantly under leaders like Prof. Lawrence Marcdermat and Maulvi Ibrahim. In 1931, Sri Pratap College began offering degree courses, extending to science subjects by 1935. A testament to its thriving literary culture, students and teachers contributed to the establishment of the college magazine “Pratap” in 1916.
A pivotal moment occurred in 1942 when, to accommodate the growing number of students while maintaining academic excellence, Sri Pratap College was bifurcated into two entities: Sri Pratap Intermediate College and Amar Singh Degree College.
Today, Sri Pratap College stands as a revered institution, renowned as a leading science college in the Kashmir Valley. Boasting expansive grounds, numerous teaching departments, and a comprehensive library, its legacy echoes the dedication and vision of its founders.
The journey of Sri Pratap College epitomizes the collective efforts of the community, trailblazers like Dr. Annie Besant, progressive educators, and the multitude of students who have graced its halls. As a beacon of education, Sri Pratap College has played a pivotal role in shaping the educational and cultural landscape of Kashmir, laying a solid foundation for generations to come.
A Timeless Legacy of Learning and Progress
As Sri Pratap College continues to stand proudly in the heart of the Kashmir Valley, its journey becomes a testament to the enduring spirit of education and cultural enrichment. From its inception in the early 20th century, guided by the visionary Dr. Annie Besant, the college has navigated through transformative periods, adapting to societal changes while staying true to its commitment to quality education.
The institution’s evolution, marked by milestones such as the introduction of degree courses and the establishment of the college magazine “Pratap,” reflects a dedication to intellectual and cultural growth. Despite the challenges and controversies it faced, Sri Pratap College emerged resilient, reinforcing its identity as a revered educational beacon.
Today, as Sri Pratap College stands as a leading science college in the Kashmir Valley, its expansive grounds, diverse teaching departments, and a rich library signify a legacy that extends beyond textbooks. It symbolizes a space where generations of students, educators, and visionaries have converged to shape not only their academic destinies but also contribute to the broader cultural tapestry of Kashmir.
The journey of Sri Pratap College embodies the collective endeavors of the community, the pioneering spirit of Dr. Annie Besant, the dedication of progressive educators, and the aspirations of countless students. It serves as a symbol of enlightenment, fostering unity, understanding, and intellectual growth.
As the college continues to nurture minds and shape the educational landscape of Kashmir, its legacy remains an indelible mark on the region’s cultural and academic heritage. Sri Pratap College stands resolute—a timeless institution that echoes the past, resonates with the present, and promises to inspire generations yet to come.
Authored By Dr Noor Ali zehger