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Educational institute once worth a rupee: A peek into Nagaland’s first govt college under NAAC


The history of Fazl Ali College, Mokokchung, reflects an aspect of the story that depicts a man’s unfaltering commitment amidst adversity and the vicissitude of events that followed all the way before reaching the destination.

TFM Nagaland Correspondent

Mokokchung district in Nagaland has always been described and quoted as the “land of pioneers”, a college established in the late 1950s which has produced many prodigies including past and present politicians, bureaucrats, intellectuals, and many others regardless of whom needs no “introduction” has once again into “focus” through its own ability(s).
With a motto “Academia Nulli Secondus” which also mean “Second to None in Academics”, and with a vision to develop the college into a hub of multidisciplinary studies and a centre for indigenous research of “national and international relevance”, the renowned Fazl Ali College located about five kilometres away from the bustling Mokokchung town came into being on September 8, 1959.
The campus spreading across 85 acres, the prestigious college started with a donation drive of a “rupee” from every household within Mokokchung district, Nagaland, and also with support from the then governor of Nagaland, Syed Fazl Ali, under whose name the college came into being.

When contacted, an alumni and who coincidentally happens to be holding the post of a lecturer (English department) in the same college chipped in to this correspondent that when Nagaland was declared a State on December 1, 1963, the then newly formed government took over the college as a fully funded government institution with “retrospective” effect from March 1, 1962, after which the college has not looked back and since then the college becoming as a full-fledged government arts college and then extending the science stream to the college in the year 1983.
First government college in the state to be accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in 2019 with “B Grade”, the college has achieved the “A Grade” for the year 2022 during the 3rd Cycle of Assessment recently.
Today, the college has the distinction of offering about 33 courses across four programmes attended by more than thousand students and 70 teachers who assist the students in academic, extracurricular and support facilities.
Aimed to introduce more streams including commerce, PG courses, and targeting to become an autonomous college with potential for excellence, the distinctive feature of the college is that it is the only college in Nagaland that offers “Ao” dialect as a Modern Indian Language (MIL) paper.
The first college in Nagaland to establish a language translation and indigenous skill learning centres, with support from the Nagaland government, Fazl Ali College (FAC), Mokokchung, has aims to offer honours course in “Ao dialect” under CBCS curriculum.

The Beginning
With the passage of time, a series of events unfolded into oblivion leaving behind a trail of reminiscence tinged with a “story” to be later narrated.
Fazl Ali College speaks of the sweat and tears, the struggles and hardships untold by certain people for an epoch-making achievement but the reminiscence of this sacrificial affair got blurred in time and gradually is fading away.
Looking back, the history of Fazl Ali College, Mokokchung, reflects an aspect of the story that depicts a man’s unfaltering commitment amidst adversity and the vicissitude of events that followed all the way before reaching the “destination”.
Every achievement entails the materialism of the visions and sacrifices of a few dedicated and farsighted people.
Treading the usual tortuous path of history which may well be ascribed to the universal law of nature governing human civilization, an event was originated in a corner of the world proceeding towards a denouncement of which the college had to face without any exception during its initial stage.
A stage of opposition, enmity and hindrance preceded the establishment of the Fazl Ali College, Mokokchung, on September 8, 1959, keeping in mind that at the root of every achievement, there is a dream.
It was during that initial period that in the heart of Mokokchung town (Nagaland), the residents nurtured the dream of a college since the early fifties but that “dream” was shattered because of the “political upheaval” that spread all over Nagaland, the then Naga Hills Tuensang Area (NHTA) which led to the closure of all schools in the state.
However, this adverse situation could not douse the “indomitable” spirit of the young minds in their quest for education and as a result an “exodus of students” took place where it drove the students to neighbouring state Assam with the sole objective of attaining education while braving all the diverse problems and hardships being faced.
It was learnt that at that junction, a few students including former deputy chief minister of Nagaland, RC Chiten, veteran politician and former chief minister of Nagaland, former governor of Goa and Maharashtra, Dr SC Jamir, Temen Aonok and others were moved at the helplessness of the prevailing situation during that time and went on in initiating the leaders of “Nationalist Movement”, Immangdangba and Imsongdi for a talk but the upshot was the access in reopening of the schools.
Though the schools reopened, most of the matriculates under the circumstances of financial constrain had to forgo the dream of higher education available only outside Nagaland at that time which proved to be very expensive.
Moreover, the fulfilment of the nurtured dream of having a college at Mokokchung was still far off and then in the month of October 1958, the same group of college students who were instrumental in the reopening of the school, convened a meet to decide and sketch the outline of an “Intermediate Arts College”.
In the month of February 1959, the group of the college students shared their dreams of opening a college with some elders of the town—Supongnuklu, Areshingang, Imlong Chang, Hopongki Sangtam, Nivukhu Sema, Khelhoshe Sema, Imonungba, Marsosang, Senkalemba, Chubanungba, Lanutoshi, Mayangnokcha, Imnaonen, Risbud, LL Yaden, R Ngullie and Major R Khathing, the then deputy commissioner of Mokokchung district.
It was on March 19, 1959, after a meeting was held at the residence of Marsosang, a steering committee was formed with Major R Khathing as the advisor, Supongnuklu (president), RC Chiten (secretary) and Areshingang (treasurer).
The objective of the sub-committee was to find certain avenues for financial aid of the college where an appeal was also made to residents of Mokokchung district through the Ao Tribal Council (ATC) for contribution of financial assistance towards the cause and as a response, every household took a pledge to contribute an annual subscription of “50 paise” until the government took over the college.
Under the pledge, the government employees also agreed upon to give a onetime contribution of 10 percent of one month’s salary.
The contribution made by each household of “50 paisa” per annum and the contribution of 10 percent of a month’s salary by the government employees was significant in opening one of the first educational institutions in Nagaland with a collective amount of Rs 30,000.
Determined to inculcate education amongst, RC Chiten personally met the then governor of Assam and northeast, Syed Fazl Ali, where he conveyed the proposal of opening a “night college” at Mokokchung while also sharing the many problems being confronted by the people in that respect.
It was said that the governor, Syed Fazl Ali, having a soft corner for the Nagas has proved to be all encouraging and helpful to giving a shape to the proposal for a college.
Through governor, Ali’s help, RC Chiten embark on a journey to Delhi to meet the then Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who sanctioned a “onetime grant” of Rs 40,000 for the college and that amount had proved to be the “financial foundation” for the establishment of the college.

The History
The history of the college remains incomplete without a scribble that speaks of the spirit of solidarity and oneness for the cause exhibited by the people of Tuensang, Mon and Phom areas and the traders of Mokokchung town comprising of both Nagas and non-Nagas who came forward to financially lend a helping hand.
The sacrificial move of the Nagas that invoked the spirit of determination and cooperation was heart touching of which a vivid description or quote from the principal’s desk on the college foundation day in 1962 was published in its 25th anniversary souvenir in 1984.
It read “In other parts of India, colleges have come into being only by the munificence of millionaires, but here in Nagaland, the cooperative endeavours of the people in the Naga villages (non too wealthy), the workers and traders of Mokokchung town, the sympathetic attitude of the deputy commissioner, Major Khathing, and his staff, as well as the sympathy of the administration at Kohima, made it possible for the college to be established from mere scratch, in the heart of an area hitherto deemed backward and inaccessible by the rest of India”.
The college started with an enrolment of 42 students in the month of September 1959 which was later increased to 43 in the following month.
Some rooms of the government high school (now Mayangnokcha government higher secondary school) was allowed by the then headmaster, Mayangnokcha, with approval of the deputy commissioner, major R Khathing, to be used as lecture halls after the school hours because the college had to function as a night college.
For the recruitment of lecturers, an interview was board was constituted with I Sashimeren Aier, Khelhoshe Sema, and RC Chiten as the board members after which the head of English department, Prof Sawan of JB college, Jorhat, Assam, accepted the invitation to be the principal of the college.
It was also learnt that the hen deputy commissioner allowed his vehicle to be used for the purpose of fetching prof Sawan from Cinnamara near Mariani, Assam.
Three other lecturers were also appointed and the subjects offered were English, Alternative English, History, civics and commercial geography.
The principal being a retired English professor conducted the English classes due to shortage of teachers.
The trio teachers were freely accommodated by Longrimendang of Mopungchuket village and the principal by Dharani Baruah, one of the first batches of students of Fazl Ali college.
In one of his trips to Shillong, Meghalaya, RC Chiten happened to encounter an old acquaintance, R Wati Longchar, who was working as an LDA in the deputy commissioner’s office and in course of conversation, the former deputy chief minister of Nagaland, RC Chiten, invited him to work as the head assistant o the college office.
Though Wati Longchar was shouldering the responsibility of pastor in-charge of Shillong Ao Church during that time, he accepted the invitation and joined as the first Head Assistant of Fazl Ali College, Mokokchung, in the month of November 1959 with a salary of Rs one hundred eighty six and fifty paise.
The decision to name the college “Fazl Ali College” was taken after the then governor of Assam and the Northeastern areas of India, Syed Fazl Ali, because of his kind and sympathetic gesture towards the Nagas.
With all problems solved, the college finally came into reality on September 8, 1959.

Fazl Ali College’s initial stage
In the initial stage, the college due to shortages of lecturers, Temen Aonok, who was then the assistant commissioner, came forward in helping out as a lecturer for the History department for some months.
The first full time Naga lecturers to join the college were retired vice-chancellor, Nagaland University, Prof I Yanger, and retired director, school education, Nagaland, Prof Talitsuba, in the department of economics and history respectively in 1963, the year when Nagaland got its statehood.
In October 1961, Gauhati University deputed an officer for the inspection of the college for its affiliation to the university following which the report of the college was found to be satisfactory but since the college had no building of its own, a problem was faced for the affiliation.
The Nagaland government’s plan to take over the college and the pressing need for its affiliation led the district administration to make necessary arrangement for the solution of the building problem and after which the college was shifted to the then old civil hospital building (after it was vacated) in 1962 (now the old Town Hall).
In the year 1963, the Nagaland government decided to take over the college with retrospective effect from March 1, 1962.
A permanent site for the college was chosen at Chuchuyimpang and Mokokchung village lands which was donated by the two villages and finally the college was shifted to the present site in the month of February 1971 when Prof Asraf Ali was the principal of the college.
Students also took an active part in shifting process under the leadership of the then general secretary of the student’s union after which the formal inauguration of the college took place on November 19, 1971 with the then PWD minister, Koramoa Jamir, as the chief guest.
Thus Fazl Ali College, Mokokchung, Nagaland, as a full-fledged government arts college was “set in motion” and gradually gained momentum in imparting quality education.
With the lapse of time, the need arose for addition of science stream to the college and in the year 1983, it became a reality with upgradation to degree course (B Sc) in 1999.
Since the establishment of the college, “fifty summers have rolled away, a distant dream bloomed into reality through the relentless efforts and selfless commitment of the people that contained tales untold sacrifices unspoken, tears and whispered prayers that mingled in the silence of infinity”, said Lanurenla, a lecturer of the college while sharing an “inside and history” of the college.

Fazl Ali College, an epitome of education
Fazl Ali college today stands magnificently with an ambience of “glamour and pomp” all around; engulfed in an aura of intellectuality and scholarship blazoning out its motto “Academia Nulli Secundas” (Second to none in academia).
Standing at the threshold of a new century (s) with the completion of fifty years of its existence in 2010, the college has already entered upon a new phase of time that resounds with the voices and the laughter of a new generation who looks forward with hopes and dreams to grasp a “handful of sky” which is the limit and a challenge for which the college is all poised to meet and satisfy the needs of the time.
It is worth his services to India, Fazl Ali was bestowed with the country’s second-highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, by the government of India.

First principal of Fazl Ali College Mokokchung
Prabhudan Meyrick Sarwan, who was born on January 23, 1893, at a village (Miripathar), Attabari, Dibrugarh, Assam, was the first principal of the college.
His father, Prabhusahay Sarwan, had to come to Assam as a preacher among the Christian labourers in the tea plantations sometime during late 19 century.
After his graduation in 1913 from Calcutta now Kolkata university, the British government offered him civil service and during his short span of service as a civil servant, he did not make much interest in the job and resigned and came back to Jorhat Christian in 1921 as headmaster.
He appeared for MA examnination in English under Calcutta university in 1933 which he passed in second division.
In 1937, Sarwan joined JB College, Jorhat, Assam, as a lecturer and later on became the head of the department.
Prof PM Sarwan entered politics as a means of ameliorating the condition of the poor labourers of the tea gardens for whose welfare his father had come all the way from Ranchi, Bihar, and as a man with mission, he had a strong feeling that God had beckoned him for this purpose.
He was elected as the president of Assam Tea Labourers’ Association, a position he retained all his life, he was also elected as member of the Legislative Assembly in the general election in 1937 and 1946.
Prof Sarwan always fought for the rights of the poor labourers who were exploited and neglected by their employees.
He remained as the principal of the college till April 1966 because of the superannuation as per government rules.
Prof Sarwan led a very peaceful and happy retired life in Jorhat and continued to be the friend, philosopher and a guide to his people in need till he left for his heavenly abode on February 14, 1987, at the age of 97.
Survived by six children including three sons and three daughters, his eldest son, AP Sarwan retired as the chief secretary of Assam in 1995.

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