Reverend Valson Thampu – 14/10/17
What is the institution that the world knows as St. Stephen’s College, Delhi? Is it only an anthology of nostalgic tales, mythological anecdotes, free-wheeling assertions and transitory opinions? Or does it have a distinctive birth that defines its worth and dictates its mission?
For four decades, Reverend Valson Thampu served St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, first as a member of the faculty and then as principal, significantly impacting the stature of this prestigious educational institution. The last nine years of his tenure were rife with controversy. From accusations that he was ‘Christianizing’ the college to contentious debates over his educational qualifications to allegations that he was curbing the fundamental rights of the students, Reverend Thampu faced a constant barrage of storms.
In On a Stormy Course, Reverend Thampu lays bare, for the first time, the truth behind those years of tumult. Against the backdrop of the vision and ideals of the founding fathers of the institution that in turn shaped his own principles and professional ethics, he reveals how he stayed steadfast and committed to the betterment of his alma mater in the face of hostile peers, media trials and public scorn.
As thought-provoking as it is searing, this account offers a ringside view of the inner life of higher academics in India, mired as it is in disruptive institutional politics and unfortunate compromise. The incisive insights it presents reveal how rejuvenating and reforming India’s higher education system could well enable the country’s venerated institutions to serve their purpose of shaping young minds and thus, ultimately, the nation itself.
About the Author
Teacher, thinker, author, radical religious reformer and, accidentally, a controversialist, Valson Thampu steered St. Stephen’s College through a period of unprecedented turbulence as its twelfth principal (2007-2016). Thampu has combined his lifelong commitment to academics with an assortment of involvements that ranges from being a prolific columnist and social activist to quasi-judicial adjudication of minority rights as a member (2004-2007) of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Government of India. His translation of the work of renowned Malayalam author Sarah Joseph, Othappu: The Scent of the Other Side, won him the Crossword Prize for Translation in 2010.