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Once a Cottonian, Always a Cottonian!

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cottoncollege1During my visit to Guwahati each time, I take a walk from my family home (Barpetia Para) passing Harisava, Gauhati Dairy, Mahamaya to the New Cotton College Administrative Building – to revive my cherished old memories. The entire route to my college had a different kind of spirit at 8:30 am, marked by the eager faces of school and college going students and gentle yet brisk rhythm of the movement of office goers. The noise and bustle of an unorganized shopping area has by now overwhelmed the elegance of the road to my favorite alma mater. Still this is my favorite route, one that reminds me of my teenage days.

As an Ex-Cottonian, we still cherish with profound pride in the innermost depth of our minds the sweet memories of our Cotton College days. We also hold the values that the College symbolizes very close to our hearts. Once a Cottonian, always a Cottonian! This can-do spirit in us continues to contribute towards further enhancement of the brilliant traditions of the alma mater through one’s conscious efforts. Cotton College, which has thus become a part of the consciousness of generations of Cottonians, is now 108 years old. We are all product of this college and would like to share with our present younger generation what gives us the sense of belonging to our much-loved College and to our Sikkha Gurus.

The Cotton College Union Society is a most prestigious organization, which not only reflects the interest of the college but also expects to provide the role models for the future generations in Assam in every aspect of life. In the 1963 general election, Indra Gogoi took over from late Nripen Goswami, the lion voice of student community at the time who had the talent to create awareness and pride. The student community of whole Guwahati used to come together to Goswami’s beck and call. He had that much power and authority, could mesmerize by his heart-warming speeches and gather the student community for any cause of Assam. He used to visit the schools and other colleges of Guwahati to create social and cultural awareness amongst the students. When I joined Cotton College in 1962, he was our General Secretary. Today we want that kind of spirit and enthusiasm from our younger generation. We want to see another Nripen Goswami amongst our student community today.

During our student life at Cotton College, we were mostly into cultural activities and music. We still remember the well-known names and the kinds of spirit they had shown. The names like Lalit Shyam, Ramen Choudhury, Dost, Habibur Rahman (Louis) Dilip Barua (Ruby) JP Saikia, Yamini Phukan, Kaushalya Kanaga, Charu Seleng. The sports personalities included Dr. Arunima Barua, the Secretary of the Girls’ Common Room and the NCC leader of Cotton College. I had given up the proposal to be a cultural secretary not to contest in support of Akon Barua, my classmate, now the Retired. Prof. (Eng) of Jaysagar College, Sibsagar. Dost was Music Secretary in 1964.

In our days teacher student relationship was confined to lessons and books. To go to principal’s room was only for an emergency. Our principal was Nurul Islam Sir.

In the college, Mahesh Bhuyan Sir and Upen Sharma (Eng), Hemanta Sharma (Assamese), Narayan Sharma were our advisers in organizing any cultural event. Students were not interested in politics. We only used to invite ministers as chief guests to our function.

During my sojourn to Guwahati this time, I had an opportunity to join the Cotton College Alumni Association general meeting on Sunday, 29 March 2009. To me it was an emotional occasion for a journey down memory lane to relive once again our memorable days in Cotton College.

But the experience of attending the meeting that day has created a kind of unrest in my mind. As an ex-Cottonian, I have felt the impulse of expressing this fact of my unrest. I know that the old days cannot be revived. Changes would come naturally and the society and particularly younger generation would, in their behavior, reflect such changes. But to my mind the changes are far too rapid.

Somehow or other I am prepared to reconcile myself with some such changes. But the whole scenario of that meeting did put me in a state of shock and surprise and spoiled the joy of attending the alumni meet.
The old order as we all know yields place to the new. Likewise the old alumni committee should pave the path for the formation of a complete new and fresh committee. The veteran and experienced past office bearers should remain as advisors or patrons for the fresh committee. No matter how good they were, they should give way for the new and fresh people.
That is where confusion starts. That day we saw a kind of conflict of interest in the process of forming a new committee. I feel that just for the sake of the glorious tradition of Cotton College, unexpected activities should be avoided. The general public and student community as a whole are much more interested in seeing fresh workers on the prestigious committee.

The whole process ought to have taken place most amicably. My shock and anguish have prompted me to write these lines. Because such degeneration is beyond my wildest expectations. We expect from Cotton College a kind of excellence that is in par with the best on the globe.

What we can do? The new Alumni Association should liaise with the alumni of Cotton College around the globe. We will try to organize visits from various Universities in UK to our College. Cambridge and Oxford university students and faculty regularly visit Indian universities.
Last year the VC of Cambridge University, Prof. Alison Richard and a group of people from Cambridge University came to India to meet the Alumni Society of India. St. Xaviers in Kolkata organized their visit to Kolkata. I spoke to Dr. Siddhartha Ghosh  the Director for Cambridge-India Partnership Program, who lead this group to Kolkata. I was told they might consider arranging such a visit to Gauhati University in future provided they have the invitation well in advance.
So I am sure if we all start to do the networking process together we can take further the name of Cotton College and Gauhati University, the two most prestigious educational institutions of entire North-East.

Rini Kakati, London