The fifth edition of Beyond Boundaries, the annual global convention of St. Xavier’s College Calcutta Alumni Association (SXCCAA), organised by the Australian chapter of SXCCAA, was held recently at the Pullman Hotel in Melbourne.
A delegation of 100 Xaverians from India led by Father Felix Raj attended this global convention and around 100 Xaverians settled in Australia and New Zealand joined the celebration.
“Beyond Boundaries is a platform for alumni of the 150 year old institution in India to re-connect with their alma mater”, said Mukesh Garg, the vice-president of the Australian Chapter, who added that the event generated around 100,000AUD of revenue for the Victorian tourism industry.
“It is a celebration of the global reach of its alumni who have attained excellence in their fields of specialisation in every corner of the world,” said Rana Pratap Nag, the secretary of the chapter.
Father Felix Raj, the current principal of the 150-year-old institution, shared experiences from previous international chapter meetings, especially Beyond Boundaries IV in London that saw Xaverian L.N. Mittal pledge USD 5 million towards the academic building coming up on the institute’s new campus in Kolkata, India, of which he has already handed over USD 3 million. He also shared Vision 2020, the college’s blueprint for development in the next six years. “At present we have 8,000 students but we want to expand to include 16,000 students by 2020, not as part of St. Xavier’s College, autonomous, but as St. Xavier’s University,” Felix Raj said.
Speaking about the university status of the institute, Felix Raj said the dream was likely to become reality in the next few months or year, depending on the progress of negotiations with both the central and the state governments on the criteria that the college is looking at, including government aid, minority status and full control of the administration by Jesuit fathers.
Apart from Mittal, former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, vice-president of India Hamid Ansari, and chairman of the UB group of India Vijay Mallya are few of the popular graduates from the institution.
“It is a happy moment for all of us to be together as a Xaverian family far away in Melbourne and to revive the spirit we had while we were in St. Xavier’s and which we have carried for all these years to various parts of the world,” said Felix Raj, also the president of the alumni association.
“The state government has accepted it in principle and asked us to prepare the bill, which is ready. While we were negotiating with the state government, the central government invited St. Xavier’s College for upgrade by the human resource development ministry and now talks are on with the central government,” Felix Raj said. The state government’s project has been put on hold on the advice of Xaverians in the ministry as the Centre is keen to upgrade St. Xavier’s to a university, for which the initial seed money will be Rs 55 crore.
Felix Raj thanked the alumni association and the alumni for their support and generosity in making Vision 2020 a reality, and being an example to associations and institutes all over the world how constructive the alumni can be for their alma mater.
Beyond Boundaries Melbourne, which began with a prayer service, a musical performance, Bengali elocution and a presentation of the college’s Vision 2020, ended with a performance by the band ‘Bandish Fusion’ led by Oscar nominee Pandit Subhen Chatterjee who enthralled the audience with an eclectic mix of sounds from the violin, table and drums. The guest of honour for the evening was Bob Fairclough, Mayor of Wyndham city. The other special guests were Wyndham city councillors Gautam Gupta and Intaj Khan, who lauded the Australian chapter of the prestigious Indian institution for actively participating in the developmental activities of their alma mater.
The event concluded with a speech by president of the Australian Chapter, Neelesh Mehta, who said, “St Xavier’s College has served India for over 150 years and its graduates have made their alma mater proud time and again. It is time we the alumni channelise our efforts to develop our alma mater, by participating in Vision 2020 and in turn build India.”