“Sanatan here does not signify strict adhere or orthodox attitude to life or religion. Sanatan Dharma is evergrowing and embracing new ideas without disregard to eternal values, pursuit of knowledge and duty-consciousness. A true Sanatanist respects tradition, pursues knowledge with utmost sincerity and integrity of purpose…feeling for fellow-men, facing the problems of life cheerfully and courageously…is a true sportsman and knows his duties in the field of life”- Udayachal, ARSD College Magazine
Sanatan Dharma College (rechristened Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College in May, 1968), a co-educational Constituent College of the University of Delhi, was founded in August 1959 by Shri Sanatan Dharma Sabha (Rawalpindi), registered at Delhi. Originally founded in 1882 at Rawalpindi, Shri Sanatan Dharma Sabha had been the premier organization of the Sanatanist Hindus that for over six decades had catered to the various needs of the community in the Rawalpindi Division of pre-partition Punjab and had successfully run a degree College, a high school, two middle schools and four primary schools there. The Sanatan Dharma Sabha was registered in 1952 at Delhi.
Old patrons like Shri Lala Devi Ditta Shah Talwar, Shri Goswami Ganesh Dutt Ji Maharaj, Shri Mela Ram Jaggi, Shri Ganga Ram Gujral and many other philanthropists joined hands and began to raise funds towards realizing their dream of locally rehabilitating their efficiently run institution. In the event of a massive influx of Bangladeshi refugees in 1971, the students and teachers of this College were in the vanguard of relief operations at places like the Chakrabhata camp in Bilaspur (then Madhya Pradesh) and Bangaon camp in West Bengal, with four students actually having spent time with Muktivahini fighters in the then East Pakistan and one student having visited Dhaka the year after year.
The Birth of ARSD
On 12 July 1959, permission arrived to open a College as a Constituent College of the University of Delhi in a rented building at Anand Parbat area. Shri F.C. Mehra took charge as the Chairman of the Governing Body and Dr. R.N. Rai, a reputed physicist, became the first Principal of the College.
On 3rd August the grand inaugural ceremony of the College was performed under the Chairmanship of the then Speaker of Lok Sabha, Hon’ble M.A. Ayyangar, the Chief Commissioner of Delhi, Shri A.D. Pandit, and the Hon’ble Vice Chancellor, Prof. V.K.R.V. Rao, who declared the College open. A commanding site spanning 12.31 acres of land at Dhaula Kuan was acquired from the government at a cost of Rs. 87,000 and on 6th December the foundation stone of the new building was laid by Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant. To keep up the traditions of Sanatan Dharma culture, earth brought from old institutions at Rawalpindi was poured over the current site.
The motto of the College, Tejasvi-naav-adhitam-astu, has been taken from Taittiriya Upanishad and means May our learning be endowed with radiance.
Traditional and Institutional values
Since its very inception, in addition to the pursuit of academic and professional excellence, the Sanatan Dharma College put emphasis on character-building and idealism informed by Sanatani values. In a show of commitment, the inaugural issue of College magazine Udyachal was published with sections in Sanskrit, Hindi and English within four months of the founding of the College. A proof of College’s sensitivity towards students from economically weaker sections can be gauged from fact that it strives for the provision for a book-bank facility for loaning books to needy students for an entire year, from the very first year of its existence.
The Academic Foundation stone
In the second year of College’s functioning, an Honours course in Hindi was started and another new course Hindi (Elective) was launched. Permission was also received for starting Honours courses in English, Maths and Economics (eventually started in 1962) and also a B.Sc. course, consequent upon the commissioning of the new building housing laboratories. NCC was started in the same year and a Student Parliament was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Dr. Raghu Vira. College’s commitment towards promoting women’s education can be gleaned from the fact that as early as the second batch, there were 34 female students in an overall strength of 307 students. The seeds of College’s later popularity with foreign students were sown quite early as the College already had 4 students from Thailand as early as 1960. This College was also one of the first few Colleges of the University to have started completely free and thorough physio-medical check-up of all its students.
Principals and the Governing Body
In 1962, Shri B.N. Paruthi took over as the Principal. After operating out of its temporary campus at Anand Parbat for over five years, the College in July 1965 shifted to its current sprawling campus on the main Ring Road at Dhaula Kuan. In March 1966, Shri C.L. Suri, Head of the Department of Political Science Department of Kirori Mal College, took over as the Principal. On 27 May, Shri Atma Ram Chadha was elected as the Chairman of the Governing Body. In a significant development in May 1968, in consideration of Shri Atma Ram Chadha having agreed to render direct financial assistance to bail out the College of its financial crisis, Shri Sanatan Dharma Sabha agreed to change the existing name of the College from Sanatan Dharma College to Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College, New Delhi.
Elections to the first Students’ Union were held in 1968, which was inaugurated by Shri I.K. Gujral. In January 1969, a Constituent Assembly was elected to draft a permanent Constitution, which was adopted w.e.f. 1969-70 session. Dr. Rajkumar Kaushik of the Department of English of Delhi College took over as the Principal of the College upon Shri C.L. Suri’s retirement in February 1975. Shri Atma Ram Chadha held the post of Governing Body Chairman until his death in 1987, upon which his son Shri C.M. Chadha became the Chairman. Dr. B.L. Arora was made Permanent Principal in 2001 and served for 6 years in this capacity.
The current Principal, Dr. Gyantosh Kumar Jha (Department of Hindi of the College) took charge in November 2013. The College’s exponential growth—both infrastructural and of human resources—can be determined from facts such as how a College which had started its journey with just 18 teachers now has close to 190 of them. In the last 55-odd years, the number of students has gone up about thirteen times.
Likewise, the College Library which had a mere 3,800 books to begin with and subscribed to just 4 newspapers and 13 weekly and monthly journals, now boasts of close to 1.1 lakh books and subscribes to 46 journals,19 newspapers and 29 magazines, in addition to online subscription of many journals as part of the N-LIST programme.
The College has always been alive to happenings in its immediate surroundings and beyond, making some pioneering efforts along its journey. From taking a strong anti-ragging position and organizing anti-dowry rallies and plantation drives to having an active Junior Red Cross Wing and helping to improve the lot of the destitute as part of the NSS, ARSD College has never shied away from its social commitment. Substantial individual and collective material and other kinds of contributions have always been made at the time of national calamities.
In 2008, the College got a Placement Cell as well as an Equal Opportunity Cell. Having celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2009, the College started the practice of holding its annual Alumni Meet, which has since become a major event.
The addition of a separate Commerce Department block in 2010 went a long way towards easing the pressure on infrastructure. Other than the Women Development Cell, Internal Complaints Committee, and Eco Club, the College has many other vibrant societies and departmental associations. With its picturesque campus, ARSD College is an outstanding institution with a highly qualified teaching staff and efficient non-teaching staff. Both students and teachers going out of this College have carved a niche in various walks of our national life.
Infrastructural and Extra-Curricular Achievements
Thanks to unwavering support from the College Governing Body helmed by Chairman Shri Pawan Jaggi, the College, particularly in past couple of years, has been able to fast-track and successfully complete a lot of curricular, extra-curricular and infrastructural projects. Some of the remarkable infrastructural and extra –curricular achievements are as follows
The Seminar room has got a makeover and the Popular Lecture Series has gone international.
The entire ground and first floor are being retrofitted and earthquake-proofed. In addition, an atrium, the new second floor with 3 science laboratories, a research laboratory and 14 classrooms, one conference hall and a mini-auditorium with a seating capacity of 350-400 students are going to be inaugurated very soon.
The College has been selected as a STAR COLLEGE under the scheme launched by the Department of Biotechnology (Government of India) and has been sanctioned Star Innovation Project Grant by the University of Delhi.
The Dramatic society of the College Rangayan has recently become possibly the first such society of the University to organize a three-day theatre festival titled “Rangshirsh Jaidev Natya Samaroh”.
An active North-east Students’ Welfare Committee has likewise blazed a trail in organizing a day-long Northeast festival, Rainbow Fest. The College takes pride in its past achievements and looks to the future with great hope and determination. The year after, notable developments included launch of the College wall magazine Atma Darpan and also inauguration of the College Mountaineering Association. 1971 onwards, the South Campus Evening Law Centre of the University of Delhi, i.e., the Law Centre II, began to share ARSD College’s building and grounds, resulting in optimal use of infrastructure.
“You can’t lead anyone if you can’t lead yourself”- Maxine Driscoll, Founder Think Strategic