Gauhati University was established by an act of the State Legislature, namely, the Gauhati University Act 1947 (Assam Act, XVI of 1947), of the Government of Assam in the year 1948. The University is funded by the University Grants Commission and the Government of Assam. Besides, various agencies of the Central and State Governments provide various grants and assistance for Research and other Academic activities. The University is in its 58th year of existence, and is the oldest, the largest, and the most premiere seat of higher education in the entire North Eastern Region of India.

The first Court meeting of the University was held on 26-1-48 at the old Sudmerson Hall of Cotton College, Guwahati. Accordingly the date '26 January' is observed as the Foundation Day of Gauhati University. Thanks to the relentless and untiring efforts of a band of dedicated workers like Gopinath Bordoloi (the first Chief Minister of Assam. He was awarded 'Bharat Ratna' posthumously), Madhab Bezbarua, Bhubaneswar Barua, Sarat Chandra Goswami, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed (former President of India), and many others, and the help and co-operation of the people of Assam, the University could be established in 1948.

The University which started functioning from the city centre was shifted to the present campus in 1955-56.

The University has been awarded a "B" Grade on a four point scale, the score point of the Gauhati University being 2.91 by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) of UGC.

Our objective is to revitalize its educational leadership and transform the University from an institution of higher education to an institution of higher development of the intellect, the will, and the moral; through continuous self-development, collaboration and sharing of knowledge with institutions of excellence.

Vision and Mission

The prime vision of the university is to revitalize its educational leadership and transform the University from an institution of higher education to an institution of higher development of the intellect, the will and the moral through continuous self-development, collaboration and sharing of knowledge with institutions of excellence that would place it among the most sought-after institutions in the Country, as well as the World.

One of the major academic reforms undertaken by the University since 2000-2001 is the introduction of the Semester system at the Post-Graduate level, and the continuous Internal Evaluation System. We revise the Syllabus of the PG courses from time to time, incorporating many new innovative and contemporary subjects. The course curriculum has been designed to put emphasis on the overall development of the students with more stress on the development of the skills, positive attitude, good-habit formation and value education. Moreover, the course curriculum is multi and inter disciplinary in approach, and has been designed, as far as possible in a modern form, so as to combine in a different way to offer programme flexibility, options to the students, and to help the departments so that they can slowly switch over to the credit-based system. The use of computers and modern teaching technology in the classroom instruction are available in almost all departments of the University.

Some of the focused objectives are:

1. To become a leading University in the Country and to set high standards of excellence in the preservation, creation and dissemination of knowledge through teaching, learning, research, innovation and experiment, and to serve as an effective instrument development and change of the State of Assam and for the Country, to pass on faithfully and comprehensively the cultural, scientific and technological experience of mankind accumulated over the last century, thereby ensuring the continuity and advancement of human civilization,

2. To conduct pioneering research works in the frontier areas of knowledge,

3. To introduce modular-based structure, multi and inter disciplinary approach in selected PG departments and to increase options and flexibility to the students in every PG department,

4. To strengthen the extension education services to the society,

5. To undertake faculty development programmes through training programmes, self-appraisal, student-feedback, participation in seminars, workshops, etc.

6. To grow and achieve excellence through collaboration with the institutions of higher learning and research in the country and abroad and through industry linkage and University-Industry interface,

7. To introduce computer application in the classroom instructions and in the administrative, financial and academic activities,

8. The North Eastern region is rich in biodiversity, biomass, thousands of rare flora and fauna, scenic beauty with many tourist spots, natural resources like oil, gas, coal, forest, water bodies, medicinal plants, etc. The exploitation of these resources of economic development, and their preservation is a major challenge. Gauhati University has been contributing towards these efforts, and is now keen to play a key role in the future,

9. The North Eastern region has a population size of 3.5 crores with 206 tribes comprising about 50% of the total population, and several ethnic groups with more than 150 languages and dialects, distinct culture and costumes. The integration of these ethnic groups into the Indian Mainstream had been the major challenge of the Government of India since independence, and Gauhati University has been playing a major role on this front,

10. Economic integration and cultural links of North East India with immediate neighbouring countries, viz. Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, China, Bangladesh, and Tibet are very important features, and the University is keen on playing a pivotal role in this direction.

History of Gauhati University

It was indeed a dream come true for thousands of people of Assam who had relentlessly agitated for decades for an institute of higher education in the province when Gauhati University was established on 26 January, 1948.

For a long time, the only university in the entire eastern region was at Calcutta. This university catered to the needs not only of the students from Bengal but also of those from Bihar, Orissa and Assam. Naturally, therefore, seats for students from Assam were extremely limited and very often even meritorious students found themselves ousted in the fray. Over the years, this had caused resentment among the educated Assamese youth and the necessity of a separate university began to be acutely felt.

Soon after the capital shifted to Delhi in 1911, Bihar and Orissa acquired their own Universities and it was then that Assam, too, put forward her claim to the Government for a separate University. The first public demand was made at the annual session of the Assam Association held at Sivasagar in 1917 when Satyanath Bora made a fervent plea in his Presidential speech for a separate University. He forcefully stated that apart from other reasons, Assam deserved an independent University for the simple reason that the Senate and Syndicate of the Calcutta University had little link with the people of Assam and as such could never identify themselves with the hopes and aspirations of the Assamese people. Satyanath Bora’s powerful speech had a tremendous impact on the Assamese intelligentsia and it was followed up by a petition to the Calcutta University Commission headed by Michael Sadler. From then onwards till 1928, representation and petitions to the Government for a separate university were presented from time to time.

Serious agitation for a separate university, however, started only in 1928 when Daiba Chandra Talukdar moved a resolution to that effect in the general body meeting of the Assam Ekata Sabha held at the Curzon Hall of Cotton College. The media, too, played a very positive role in moulding public opinion. Papers like Awahan, Banhi, Batori, Times of Assam, among others, discussed and debated at length on the issue, and reported in detail all matters relating to it.

In 1932, at a meeting of eminent persons presided over by Qutubuddin Ahmad at Nagaon, a programme was chalked out to launch a sustained agitation. Meanwhile, the Assamese Students Welfare League had been formed at Calcutta. This League, comprising members like Birinchi Kumar Baruah, J.R.Phukan, Rohini Kumar Barua and Madhav Chandra Bezbarua among others, played a prominent role in Assam’s fight for a rightful place in the educational scenario of India.

The absence of much scope for higher education of Assamese youth was also highlighted by Moidul Islam Bora, a Ph.D. from London University, who made an ardent plea for a university in Assam through his forceful articles in the Awahan. He pointed out that the promotion of education and culture of a region was the primary objective of a university. If Assam had to depend on others for regional research and study, she could never hope to make any progress. He reiterated time and again that it was not possible for a people to give expression to the pride and glory of their history and culture in the absence of an institute of higher learning. But like the earlier pleas, Moidul Islam Bora’s ardent pleas also fell on deaf years. Time and again, the Government came out with the same excuses: there was no fund to sustain a university in Assam and the number of local students was too small to justify the establishment of a separate university.

These excuses however, did not deter the Assamese intelligentsia from continuing with their agitation. On 30 April, 1935, at an all party meet at the Curzon Hall, organized by the Assam Association and Sangrakhini Sabha and presided over by Gopinath Bardoloi, it was resolved to form a University Committee. Gopinath Bardoloi was nominated as its secretary. This Committee, together with the Nagaon University Committee and the Students Welfare League of Calcutta, spearheaded the agitation for a University in Assam with renewed vigor. 22 May, 1935, was observed as University Day all over the province with mammoth meetings and huge processions.

All this had occurred in the backdrop of the growing nationalism in the country and the Government could no longer afford to remain a silent spectator. In 1936 therefore, it appointed J. R. Cunningham, a retired Director of Public Instruction, to report on the state of education in Assam and to specifically state whether a separate University for Assam was (i) essential and (ii) feasible. In his lengthy Report, Cunningham expressed his doubts as to the feasibility of a separate university. He wrote “Primary education, of course, cannot be ignored and the claims of Secondary schools and the University must co-ordinate. But it should be realized that unless the university thrives, there will be no health or vitality in the educational system. He suggested that instead of separate university, a few M.A. courses could be started at Cotton College and Murarichand College with a special Examination Board at Shillong. Needless to say, Cunningham’s Report was received with a storm of protest in Assam.

As early as 1931 Roberts, who was then D.P.I. , had stated in his Annual Report, “It is said Assam cannot afford to have a University of its own, it cannot afford not to have one”. This feeling now reverberated throughout Assam. Most organizations criticized Cunningham’s Report in no uncertain terms and resolved to continue the agitation. 1938 was a year of high hopes and aspirations. The people were jubilant as the formation of a Congress ministry headed by Gopinath Bardoloi held out great promises. Bardoloi had been actively associated with the agitation for a university and it was believed that he would do his utmost for the cause. Bardoloi realized that Government funds would not be forthcoming, so he decided to create a special university fund by collecting one anna from every individual. He believed that this would serve a dual purpose. He would not only be able to raise money, but more importantly, also involve all the people of Assam. Unfortunately, the programme received a setback when Bardoloi’s ministry resigned in 1939 following the outbreak of World War II.

In the meantime, much debate had been going on regarding the site of the proposed university. Three names had been proposed during the course of the discussions, viz, Shillong, Guwahati and Sylhet, but nothing was finalized. In 1940 the Government appointed S. K. Bhuyan as Special Officer with the task of collecting relevant information on the selection of site and related matters. Interestingly, in the same year, the family of Siva Prasad Barua offered to donate Rupees 3 lakhs for a university in Assam, but they put forth two conditions viz., (i) the proposed university would have to be situated in Guwahati and (ii) it would have to be named Assam Siva Prasad University. The offer was not accepted.

In spite of the prevailing political situation, the agitation for a university continued. In October 1944, a huge Convention, presided over by Benudhar Rajkhowa, was held at the Kali Prasad Memorial Hall at Sivasagar. This Convention, attended by people from all over Assam, reiterated the demand for a university and decided to form a Trust Board comprising of seven eminent personalities of Assam. They were Gopinath Bardoloi, Sarat Chandra Goswami, Syed Md. Sadulla, Sayadur Rahman, K.K.Handqui , Heramba Prasad Barua and Sailendra Prasad Barua. Several sub committees were also formed. It was decided to form a publicity wing in Calcutta headed by Madhav Chandra Bezbaroa. Once this Trust Board was formed the fund collection drive was restarted with renewed vigour. This time, donation coupons ranging from Re 1 to Rs. 1 lakh were issued. The response of the public was enormous. As Suresh Chandra Rajkhowa, who was intimately connected with this fundraising drive, later commented, “The enthusiasm and spontaneity with which people from all over the state came forward with their contributions to the Trust fund in response to the appeal was simply amazing. The campaign for a university had turned into a people’s movement”. In fact, by the time the university was actually established, the money at its disposal was Rs. 22,39,605. This was a rare example of a university being established with donations, small and large, collected from the people of the region.

Gauhati University was incorporated by an Act of 1947. It started functioning on 26 January, 1948 as an affiliating, teaching and residential university in a few temporary buildings in Guwahati, with K. K. Handique as the first Vice-Chancellor. Phanidhar Dutta, Sailandhar Rajkhowa and Sarat Kumar Dutta were selected as the Registrar, Treasurer and Secretary of University Classes respectively. The emblem of the University, selected from among many submitted, was designed by T. Mukherjee, a textile designer of Ahmedabad. Two Sanskrit words inscribed on it – Vidyaya Sadhayeta (meaning achievement through learning) – indicate the motto of the University.

The objective of the University is to bring about social, economic, cultural, moral and spiritual upliftment of the people of Assam. As stated in the Objects and Reasons appended to the Gauhati University Bill, 1947, “Assam offers great opportunities of study in many fields-linguistic, historical, ethnological, archaeological, geological, scientific and agricultural …..It will be the aim of the proposed University to intensify the study of the age long spirit of Assamese life and character, and to bring in them the necessary adjustments in relation to Indian civilization and to the different and new impulses of the West”. The desire of seeing the University “illumine the banks of the Luit” is reflected in the university anthem, Jilikaba Luitare Par, composed by Bhupen Hazarika.

Starting with 18 affiliated colleges and 8 Post Graduate Departments in 1948, Gauhati University, today, has 39 Post Graduate Departments, besides IDOL (Institute of Distance and Open Learning) and a constituent Law College. It has 341 affiliated colleges offering undergraduate and post graduate courses in the faculties of Arts, Science, Commerce, Law, and Engineering. Gauhati University is a member of the Association of Indian Universities and the Association of Commonwealth Universities. The aspirations of the founders of the University have not gone in vain. The alumni of this university have been able to make their mark not only within the state but at the national level as well. Indeed many have been able to adorn the higher echelons of the nation’s scientific, socio-cultural, administrative and political life.

Gauhati University receives Annual Financial Grants from the Government of Assam and Development Grants from the University Grants Commission apart from different funding agencies like CSIR, DST DBT, NEC, ICAR, ICHR, MAKAIAS, among others, who sponsor various research projects.

The University Emblem and Motto

The emblem of Gauhati University contains a wealth of meaning. On it is inscribed the name of the University and its Motto in two significant Sanskrit words- "Vidyana Sadhayeta" which means 'achievement through learning', i.e. Knowledge. The verbal form 'Sadhayeta' indicates that the learner is the rightful person (Adhikari) of the fruit of learning. The 'Isopanished' states that one can get immortality through learning or knowledge.

The emblem of the University, selected from among many submitted, was designed by T. Mukherjee, a textile designer of Ahmedabad. Two Sanskrit words inscribed on it – Vidyaya Sadhayeta (meaning achievement through learning) – indicate the motto of the University.

Professor Krishna Kanta Handiqui

The founder Vice-Chancellor (1948-1957) of Gauhati University

Krishna Kanta Handiqui ('Xondikoi' or 'Sondikoi') was born on the 20th of July 1898 in Jorhat town of Assam. He was a scholar of singular distinction, a pioneer Indologist and philanthropist whose life epitomized an era marked by sacrifice and diligence. It is for his monumental literary works that the world of letters will be ever indebted to Prof. Handiqui, who was one among the world's leading Sanskritists.

Son of Rai-Bahadur Radha Kanta Handiqui, a top ranking Government Official under the British rule in Assam, Handiqui had his early education at Jorhat Govt. High School, then Cotton College, Guwahati (1913-1915), Sanskrit College, Calcutta (1915-1917), Calcutta University (1917-1919), Oxford University, England (1920-1923), Paris University, France and Berlin University, Germany (1923-1927). He studied and learnt many languages like Latin, Greek, French, German, Russian, Italian, and Spanish. He had the distinction of knowing as many as 13 languages comprising of 8 European languages and 5 Indian languages including Pali and Prakrit.

He was the founder Principal of the J. B. Law College, Jorhat (1930-47). Prof. Handiqui was the founder Vice Chancellor of Gauhati University for 9 years (1948-1957). He was adorned with 'Padmashree' in 1955 and 'Padmabhushan' in 1967 by the President of India. He was nominated by the Maharastra Government as 'Honorary Fellow of Deccan College', a rare distinction reserved for outstanding scholars in India and abroad. He was made 'Sadasyamahian' by the Assam Sahitya Sabha, the highest honour conferred by the Sabha on scholars of exceptional merit. Krishna Kanta Handiqui was the President of Assxom Xaahitya Xobhaa (Assam Sahitya Sabha) during the Guwahati conference in 1937 at the young age of 39, President of Classical Sanskrit Section, XVI All India Oriental Conference, Lucknow in 1951 and was elected the general President of the Srinagar session of the same in 1961.

His works, NAISADHACARITA OF SRIHARSHA was published in 1934 and YASASTILAKA AND INDIAN CULTURE published in 1949 made him known to the eminent scholars of the world. The publications were received with appreciations both at home and abroad, particularly from leading Sanskritists like Prof. A. B. Keith, Edinburgh; Prof. M. Winternitz, Prague; Prof. Oscar Botto, Turin; Prof. M. B. Emeneau, California; and Prof. L. Renou of Paris University. Apart form writing another scholarly book SETUBANDHA, K. K. Handiqui contributed a number of valuable articles of different Assamese periodicals from time to time. An eminent Italian scholar Oscar Botto described his work YASASTILAKA AND INDIAN CULTURE as "II dottissimo Laboro di K. K. Handiqui" (The most learned work of K. K. Handiqui). The book was praised as a great achievement by the French Savant L. Renou, Professor of Sanskrit at Paris University. The original treatise written in Sanskrit by Somadeva in the 10th Century is an encyclopedic work dealing with Jainism and Indian thought and culture. Prof. Handiqui's critical dissertation on the 'Yasastilaka of Somadeva' is a monumental contribution in the field of Indological studies.

He passed away on 7th August 1982.

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