It was a dream cherished by a visionary, who found education as the best tool against all the social evils and inequalities that existed in the society. Cyriac Chavara, the man who ordered his community to reap the benefits of education, himself founded several academic institutions across the country. CHRIST (Deemed to be University) was one such institution which bears the legacy of Cyriac Chavara, the 18th-century social reformer who fought against casteism and intolerance in his contemporary society. It was his dream of blending the sacred education with the secular education that leads to the establishment of several Christian educational institutions across the country, including that of Christ. As the university celebrates its 50th year of social service, this article takes a look at the evolution of the institution, its relevance, controversies and the future of such educational institutions in the map of Indian education sector.
Christ: An Epitome of Holistic Education and Professional Knowledge
Christ University was established as a regular college under the University of Bangalore in 1969 when the CMI congregation realized the lack of adequate avenues for higher education in the region. At that point in time, Bangalore was not yet the Silicon Valley of India and it was like any other cities in the country. It was this time, the college was established to educate the needy and poor sections of the society. From its humble beginning as a college to an autonomous institution in 2004 and later an independent varsity in 2008, Christ grew from a small institution catering the educational need of a small locality in Bangalore into a global institution that accommodates students from more than 89 countries.
Truly, Christ University has become a global village where various cultures and ethnicities meet and interact with each other. It has one of the largest foreign student’s communities in the country with the student population approaching 21,000. Christ has produced a wide range of distinguished alumni members ranging from actors to politicians, from scientists to industrialists. Francis George (MP of Parliament), Prem Koshy (Koshy’s restaurant), Krishna Byre Gowda (Former Karnataka Minster), Lucas Thomas (Senior VP, Bank of America), Shilpa Nag (Civil Servant), Madonna Sebastian, Annu Antony, Reba Monica ( all three are actresses) are some of the distinguished alumni members from the 45,000 strong alumni network. Christ University also has Memorandums of Understandings (MoUs) with around 50+ institutions across the world and collaborates with several industries and corporates.
Another Side of the Picture
Though the university has a history of glory and success, it was not always sunshine and roses. The varsity got itself in controversial situations at several instances of time. For example, there were allegations against the varsity over its failure in investigating a sexual harassment case filed against one of its staffs by a student while being a part of NCC. Similarly, the varsity found itself in hot waters when it faced protests from the students for its decision to suspend a faculty member from one of its campuses in Bangalore. The university also faced a tough time when its university status was repealed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2012, accusing the varsity of not following the regulations laid down by UGC. However, this decision was later struck down by the apex court as it found no base in the accusations. Similarly, the university was summoned by the University Grants Commission to change its nomenclature from Christ University into CHRIST (Deemed to be University) in 2017.
Deemed to Be Universities: A Revolution within Indian Education
CHRIST (Deemed to be University) is, in fact, one of the several hundreds of deemed to be universities that operate within the country. Deemed to be University is a special educational institution that traces back it’s legal backing to Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956. It is an institution that is above the status of a college but narrowly below that of a regular university. While a deemed to be university can frame and offer courses, award degrees etc., it is subject to periodic evaluations by an apex body like NAAC. Similarly, a deemed to be university cannot offer courses in distance mode or it cannot open campuses outside its home State. However, deemed to be universities offer a unique case of success as many of them grew in terms of size, quality and research output to such an extent that some of them perform even better than that of several traditional Central and State universities. Some of the deemed to be universities in the country like Indian Institute of Science Bangalore (IISc), Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) etc. are few of several such institutions which are often ranked even above the traditional universities with legacy.
It’s been half a century since Christ University has been into the field of higher education and research. Not only did it stay relevant over these years, but it also created new standards and benchmarks in the education sector of the country. As the lines of the university anthem say, “March on Christites, March on! With Heads Held High and Heart so Strong!”, the institution is marching towards greater heights with spirits held high and heart strong.
Picture Credits: Christuniversity.in