The foundation of Cotton College in the year of 1901 was not only the beginning of an institution, but the emergence of a great symbol representing intellectual waves and social changes. Society believes in dynamism and necessary changes are always accepted by people in order to walk with time and space. For that reason we often need to rearrange articles being possessed by us. Cotton College, a glorious journey of 116 years, has also witnessed certain events that greatly influenced the institution, not the symbol though.
Thus the episodes of Cotton since beginning demonstrate certain specific periods serial arrangement of which can easily provide a picture of time. Picture of time does not refer to any material object but to the continuation of social struggle. Here the concept of struggle also includes trials for better and innovative society. Although the picture of time is non-material, still its imprints are reflected inside cotton campus. Cotton College has come far away from its time of establishment having crossed the then social situations, challenges and environment but the imprints still express the glorious chapters which are sources of inspiration for all generations. This is what the idea of Cotton Heritage symbolizes.
In India and especially in Assam, the concept of heritage is comparatively new for everyone. Though the importance of the term has been practised in many states of the country, in Assam, proper importance and provisions have not been given to heritage management activities. Heritage includes both material and non-material entities. From Dighalipukhuri to Panbazar, the entire cotton campus has its own historic flavour that is easily apparent. Therefore the easily visible flavour automatically creates an atmosphere of emotional attachment with cotton heritage. There is no need to describe the historical sites or grounds of Cotton College as everyone is well aware of it. These historic areas including all the hostels connect us to the past stories of the same. Thus we hold a kind of great sensitive touch with Cotton Heritage.
But concern for the article remains vague until we highlight certain areas associated with the respective topic. Whenever the topic of Cotton Heritage arises, the issues regarding proper conservation and maintenance seem to attain the prime focus. Cotton College after receiving the ‘‘Special Heritage” status has been able to ensure construction and renovation works for its different heritage buildings which were actually in need of protection. Similarly, the historic hostels of the institution that witnessed innumerable events must be protected without destroying its basic structure in order to continue the nostalgic taste as well as to save our sentiments and pride. For example, the old administrative building which silently expressed the unique architecture and the crucial periods of Cotton could be preserved as a sign of social progress and continuation of intellectual revolution.But the present multi storeyed building completely reflects a modern period without any impression of the past. It leads to a situation where the new generation loses interest for heritage. Thus we may say that the students and other people of the generation should be given the chance to know their heritage and values of the past. Here conservation of the historic Principal’s Residence is certainly a revolutionary and time-bound endeavour. That’s why at the beginning we stated that the concept of heritage is very recent in Assam.
Moreover to continue our pride and sentiments towards Cotton Heritage, physical conservation or maintenance cannot be the only measure. Rather sentiments without necessary actions also will not help by any means. In order to keep the historic environment alive, we the students must build an atmosphere of sharing facts witnessed by Cotton since 1901 (Mental Conservation). Emotional attachments are very much required to know something better , but only emotions may damage our working capacity.
Therefore concern for Cotton Heritage will get a fruitful shape only when qualitative arrangements will be made glorifying the actual values of legacy and heritage. Students’ participation in knowing the 116 years of ideal journey should become a part of study in Cotton College so that anyone interested can start analyzing the past. Recently a few Cottonians, after forming a group called ‘Cotton Times: The Heritage Diary’ have started collecting historical facts as an attempt to highlight the inspiring periods of the institution. Therefore sentiments must be regulated by involving the great practice of sharing stories of Cotton. Each and every member of the institution therefore needs to try for the protection of Cotton Heritage not only physically but also through a mental process. Otherwise it will become difficult to minimize the gap between mental conservation and physical or material conservation. Mental conservation strictly means the idea of continuing the legacy through our thoughts. The awareness is possible only by using sustainable methods of expressing our sentiments. The scope of digital documentation can be utilized in order to spread the glorious chapters of our own Cotton College in this regard. The idea of forming a History Club ( which has been already planned by students of the Department of History) arranging discussions on Cotton through ages will also be a sustainable step to preserve Cotton Heritage.
Human civilization has been developed throughout different stages and collection of all the stages can only produce a clear picture of evolution. Similarly the journey of Cotton College is incomplete without any of the episode it faced. Therefore heritage must be preserved both by sentiments and actions.
BY: Uddipan Sarma, TDC 4th Semester, Dept. of Philosophy
COTTON COLLEGE, Contact: 7670033818.