By Sonali Acharjee
Soon after Aung San Suu Kyi won the 2012 by-elections in Myanmar, she said that she wished to visit her alma mater Lady Shri Ram College (LSR) for Women in Delhi. Even as she spoke, her college, where she completed her BA in political science in 1964, was in a tizzy of activity. Festooned with banners celebrating her win, the college had organised a series of lectures and special movie screenings in her honour. "We at LSR are proud of every feat, no matter how large or small, that our alumni accomplish. We have a long-standing history of mentoring some of the world's most eminent leaders," says Meenakshi Gopinath, LSR principal.
Given the list of academics, politicians, socialists, corporate leaders, journalists and economists that have emerged from within the red brick walls and lush gardens of the LSR campus, it is little surprise that the college still retains its position in the India Today-Nielsen survey as the best arts college in India for the third year in a row.
Established in 1965, Lady Shri Ram College had its modest beginnings in a school building in Daryaganj, Central Delhi, with 243 students, nine faculty, four support staff and three distinct courses of study. Today, the college is located in a beautiful 15 acre campus in South Delhi, has approximately 2,000 students, over 150 faculty, administrative and support staff and 16 courses of study. The college has become a byword for academic and extracurricular achievement, with its alumni spread across several fields.
"Over the past year, one of our primary focuses has been on attempting to break out of the tyranny of the received syllabus. We have spent considerable time in ensuring our students gain international exposure and study experience," says Gopinath. To this effect, the college held an Autumn School in 2011 in partnership with the Heinrich Boll Foundation. The interactive sessions on global finance and human security had a number of guest students from Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan and China. Another highlight of the previous academic year was an international consortium featuring 32 American universities that was held to debate the 'Internationalisation of Education'. Social awareness and community spirit are other proud characteristics of the college. The college has over 800 active National Social Service students who work with over 22 NGOs such as Infosys Foundation and the Shri Ram Foundation. "Humanities isn't about talk but action. From RTI initiatives to developing entrepreneurship in women, our students are active in many fields of society. One of the student initiatives I am particularly proud of is Dhyana. This is the interactive classroom space of the future. Here, students debate on conflict and inter-religious dialogue and understand issues such as ethics and choices in the public sphere," says Gopinath.
Deutsche Bank offered the highest salary package of Rs 32 lakh a year.
Second top offer was from Deloitte, a package of Rs 10 lakh a year.
Google followed next, offering a salary package of Rs 6 lakh a year.
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At number two, St. Stephen's College has also worked hard to supplement the generic university syllabus. Many international scholars have been invited to lecture at the college. "From Fulbright scholars in economics to English professors from the University of Boston, we've tried our best to give students a wholesome view of the field they are studying in. We have established the Centre for Cultural Training, which holds optional courses in the arts and cultures of the Indian subcontinent," says Valson Thampu, principal, St. Stephen's.
Students at LSR are regularly sent for external debates and talks. In 2011, the college came first at the Model UN held at Harvard University.
International exposure is a focal point of the college. The college held an international consortium where 32 American colleges were invited to participate.
LSR has a long tradition of building community and social spirit among students. It has an active Women Development Cell, Differently-abled Development Cell and NHS Cell.
St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, also has a lot to offer students wishing to undertake a course in arts. Ranked third in the country, the college seeks to strike a balance between academic and cultural exposure with special emphasis placed on activities that stimulate value formation. "Our college excels in the teaching of the social sciences and humanities. We have pioneered the teaching of Indian history and culture and languages like Pali and Arabic through the world renowned Heras Institute. St. Xavier's is also the first and only autonomous college under the University of Mumbai. The freedom to develop our own curriculum and teaching-evaluation pedagogy applying the Blooms taxonomy, with projects to facilitate enquiry-based learning, has meant an exciting rise in the quality of education," says Frazer Mascarenhas SJ, principal, St. Xavier's, Mumbai.
So what distinguishes LSR from every other art college in India? "Leadership with Social Respon-sibility is what LSR really stands for. Our strength comes from the sense of ownership that the faculty brings to every course," says Gopinath.
Reproduced From India Today. © 2012. LMIL. All rights
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