Kottayam (Kerala), Feb 26: President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday inaugurated the bicentenary celebrations of CMS College here and also laid the foundation stone of the bicentenary block.
"This college is a pioneer of modern education in Kerala and is the second oldest college in the country, after the Presidency College of Kolkata, to continuously impart higher education without a break. Starting with 40 students in its 1818 batch, it today has 2400 students, 150 teachers and 60 ministerial staff," said Mukherjee, who arrived earlier on Friday on a two day visit.
He read out the names of the illustrious old students of the college which included one of his predecessors, president K.R Narayanan, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, scholar diplomats K.M.Panikar and K.P.S. Menon, scientist E.C.G. Sudarshan, Justice (rtd) K.T. Thomas amongst others.
Going into the history of the college, Mukherjee said it was in 1813, Col. John Munroe, then dewan of princely Travancore, appointed a commission to inquire into the socio-economic conditions of Syrian Christians in the province and later appealed to the British government in Madras to initiate the process for starting a college in Kottayam.
"CMS College has been the source of strong currents of knowledge and critical inquiry that have moulded the scholastic and socio-cultural landscape of Kerala as well as propelled the state to the forefront of social development," he said.
Mukherjee however noted that there is little room for complacency as higher education is the key to making available a large pool of skilled manpower essential for our economic development.
"Our education system has to be geared up in terms of both quantity and quality. The demands of higher education in our country can be met only if private sector participates equally with the public sector institutions. The private sector has played a key role in higher education in many countries. Top international universities including Harvard, Yale and Stanford are the result of private sector efforts," he said.
He also lauded Kerala's achievements in the field of education and said that the time has now come for the state to show its mettle by becoming a world leader in this field.