School pride may run deep at any university, but perhaps no institute of higher learning has more to crow about than Northeast’s Cotton College (now University). Boasting intellectually rich alumni, notable minds from Cotton College have gone on to make it big in the personal and professional world.
When it comes to finding the best universities or colleges in the world, there are a few ways to go about it. One of the most generic ways is to look at the most prestigious universities or colleges. Being ‘Cottonian’ is a whole lot different feeling.
They say ‘Once a Cottonian always remains a Cottonian’ and many continues to contribute towards further enhancing the brilliant traditions of the Alma Mater through one’s determined efforts.
Founded in 1901, Cotton College(currently known as Cotton University) is one of the oldest and most reputed higher education institutes in Assam.
The prestigious university is named after its founder, Sir Henry Stedman Cotton who established this institute after appraising the grave need for higher education institutes in India.
Besides having a beautiful campus to explore, many notable minds have racked up some incredible accomplishments at Cotton University.
Here’s take a look at some of the most notable minds with either an undergraduate or graduate degree from Cotton College.
Among the most notable minds from Cotton College, Bhupen Hazarika needs no introduction. Referred to as north-east India’s uncrowned king of the musical world, Bhupen Hazarika was born to Nilakanta and Shantipriya Hazarika on September 8, 1926. He was the eldest among his 10 siblings.
Known as ‘Bard of Brahmaputra’, the music legend inherited his singing skills from his mother, a progressive lady, who sang lullabies to him and introduced him to the state’s folk music.
In 1936, Bhupen Hazarika recorded his first song at Aurora Studio then Calcutta.
At the age of 13, Hazarika wrote his first song. He was recognized by noted Assamese lyricist Jyotiprasad Agarwala and artist Bishnu Prasad Rabha.
Briefly after that, Hazarika sang two songs in Agarwala’s film Indramalati.
It is to be noted that Indramalati (released in 1939) is the second Assamese film, directed by the great Assamese poet Jyotiprasad Agarwala. Hazarika was awarded the Bharat Ratna (2019), Padma Vibhushan (2012), Padma Bhushan (2001), Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1993), etc, and many other nation’s top awards.
Himanta Biswa Sarma
A name that is known to all! Himanta Biswa Sarma, a former general secretary of Cotton College Union Society (CCUS) is the eighth Assam chief minister to study in the then Cotton College(Now Cotton University). Now Assam CM Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma is credited with being the architect of the saffron surge in Northeastern states.
As a member of the All Assam Student’s Union (AASU), Dr. Sarma is known for being the pioneer of Assam Agitation to fight against illegal migrants. Amid political turmoil, the AASU’s top leaders formed the Asom Gana Parishad. Dr. Sarma quickly emerged as the “errand boy” of the leaders and rose to become the biggest political mover in the state.
Despite his predecessor’s popularity and clean image, Himanta Biswa Sarma’s performance over the years has landed him the top job.
Assam’s first CM Gopinath Bordoloi attended Cotton College right after he passed matriculation in 1907. Remarkably, he was the first person from Northeast India to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in the nation. Hence, he is known as “Lokpriya” which indicates ‘to be loved by all.
Being the prime architect of the modern polity of Assam, his work formed the basis for ensuring communal harmony, democracy, and stability. It indeed kept Assam secure and progressive right up to the 1971 war over Bangladesh’s independence.
Among the most notable minds from Cotton College, Homen Borgohain stands out. In the world of literature, prolific writer and journalist Homen Borgohain is one name that cannot be missed.
He occupied a distinguished place in Assam’s literary and intellectual arenas. Homen Borgohain also served as the chief editor of the popular Assamese daily ‘Niyomiya Barta’ till his death.
Assam’s foremost intellectual has left behind a massive body of work. It is to be noted that in 1978, he won the Sahitya Akademi award for his novel Pita-Putra (1999). But he returned it in 2015 in protest against the Dadri lynching.
Brilliant TV Actress and singer Parineeta Borthakur also attended Cotton College (currently known as Cotton University). She made her first appearance on SAB TV on Pritam Pyare Aur Woh as Gogi. Swaragini actress also featured in Bollywood films like Force, Chalo Dilli, and Kurbaan.
Belonging to a family with a musical background, Parineeta Borthakur also recorded a successful, eponymous video album “Parineeta”.
Apart from ‘Pritam Pyare Aur Woh’ also played roles in popular serials like ‘Son Pari’, ‘Gupta Sisters’, ‘Savdhaan India’, ‘Crime Patrol’, ‘Chandan’ etc.
She was also honoured with Limca fresh face runner-up in 2005 and Jyotirupa’s joint media Awards for Nayak.
Mamoni Raisom Goswami
In the world of literature, Dr. Mamoni Raisom Goswami is a distinguished name. The pioneer of feminist Assamese literature did her graduation in Assamese Literature from Cotton College.
Originally known as Indira Goswami, the prolific author was honoured with Jnanpith, the highest literary award in India, for her immense contributions to literature. The lady was known for her attempts to structure social change through her writings and her role as a mediator between the armed militant group United Liberation Front of Asom and the Government of India. In her writings, she penned down the pain and suffering of the toiling people especially women, peasants, and children. Her intellectual prowess in achieving her single-handed fight against all odds is amazing.
Indian peasant leader Akhil Gogoi attended Cotton College during 1993–1996, where he pursued his graduation in English Literature. In his college days, he served as the general secretary and magazine secretary in the student union.
In the late 1990s, he joined hands with the United Revolutionary Movement Council of Assam, an organization of CPI-ML led by Maoist leader Santosh Rana.
But later, he parted ways with Rana to edit an independent Marxist journal published in Assamese.
A pro-farmer and anti-dam activist became a one-man opposition for Tarun Gogoi’s Congress and now Himanta Biswa Sarma’s BJP-led government.
Over the course of time, Gogoi has been branded a Maoist and a sympathiser of ULFA.
The RTI activist was closely associated with octogenarian social activist Anna Hazare during the Indian Anti-corruption movement of 2011-12.
Leader of the farmer’s body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Akhil Gogoi is now the president of a regional political party, Raijor Dal, which roughly translates into “People’s Party.
In 2019, he was arrested on charges of instigating violence during the anti-CAA agitation that rocked the state.
Dr. Bhumidhar Barman
A name that will always be remembered! One of Assam’s strongest leaders in the history of Assam politics, Dr. Bhumidhar Barman attended Cotton College right after his schooling in Tihu High school. Former Assam CM completed his MBBS degree from Assam Medical College. He started practicing nearby his village people who were deprived of a medical facility. Eventually, he soon emerged with the title of Bhumi Doctor.
Cotton College( now Cotton University) seems to pump out an extraordinary number of accomplished individuals from Assam.
We’re sure you’re all fully aware that there are plenty of people that were famous Cotton University Alumni!
After all, Cotton University is the oldest institute of higher education in Assam and all of Northeast India. The premiere institute was recognized as a centre of excellence in 1992 by former President Shankar Dayal Sharma.
From incredible singers to brilliant writers to Chief Ministers of Assam, many notable minds from Cotton College have gone on to make it big, both personally and professionally.
As a result, Cotton University boasts an impressive array of alumni, including political leaders, titans of industry, and famous entertainers.
Well, it looks like Cottonians are really changing the world!
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