About GC

Origins of Gandhi College

It has often been said that education is a fundamental right of every person, yet millions of women in rural India have no opportunity for good education. Many rural areas in India do have elementary and high schools, and, if the parents so desire, it is possible for a girl living in a village to receive high school education. However, it is extremely difficult for a girl in a village to receive a college education. Most of the villagers cannot afford to send their children to live in a city to attend a college. Most of the parents in the villages do not allow their daughters to live away from home. Thus, most children, especially girls, born in the villages had no opportunity to receive college education because colleges were in big cities and towns. It is in this context that Gandhi College was established in a small village to provide education and training to poor rural students, and especially to educate and empower women by improving the educational status and general well-being of young women in this rural area.

The establishment of Gandhi College owes it origins to a conversation between Jagadish Shukla (Shukla) and his mother Sita Devi Shukla. Since 1971, when Shukla began graduate school at MIT, he frequently went to India for meetings and conferences, and each time he would go to his village to visit his family in Mirdha – the village of his birth. During one of these visits, Shukla’s mother bluntly asked, “you keep going here and there, all over India, all the time, what have you done for the village?” Inspired by this question, Shukla and his brothers (Mahendra, Kanhaiya, and Shriram) decided to establish a college in the village to educate girls from the surrounding villages. The Shukla family donated the land, Anne and J. Shukla gave funds to establish the college and pledged to donate funds for its future operations. Shriram Shukla agreed to manage the college. Everyone pledged to be volunteers and not receive any salary or compensation from the college. There were several high schools for boys and girls up to 12th grade in this rural area; however, after high school most of the students, and especially young women in the villages, could not pursue additional education. This was because they could not travel long distances to colleges in the cities, either because they could not afford it or because they were not allowed by their families. Therefore, after long discussions, it was decided to establish Gandhi College as a three-year college for Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees in the village to enhance the educational opportunities for young women. The first incoming class of B.A students started in July 2000 and graduated in June 2003.

Through conversations with villagers and local authorities, and a quick survey of colleges in tvhe Ballia District, the Shuklas realized that cheating was rampant at several colleges in Ballia District. In fact, the business model of some of the colleges was based on cheating and using unfair means for college graduation. According to one media report (Amar Ujala newspaper, May 5, 2006), 55 examinations in 16 colleges were canceled because of cheating. In this context, it was decided that in addition to providing formal college education and empowerment to young women in the rural areas of the Ballia District, this college should also be an example of honesty and transparency – an antithesis of some other colleges in the area. It was also decided that the college will not accept any funding from the government.

For the purpose of accreditation and awarding of the degrees, each college in the State of Uttar Pradesh must be affiliated with a state approved university. Until recently, Gandhi College was affiliated with Kashi Vidyapeeth, in Varanasi. In July 2017, Gandhi College became affiliated with the newly created university Jananayak Chandrashekhar University (JNCU). This university is located near Ballia City about 10 miles south of Gandhi College.

Gandhi College has another somewhat subversive goal: to transform society by inculcating the Gandhian philosophy of truth, nonviolence, and the principles of honesty, perseverance, and selflessness in the students, faculty, staff, and management of Gandhi College. According to a large fraction of Indian people, “corruption” is one of the major maladies of the Indian society, hampering social justice and inclusive growth. Although a small college in a small village cannot do much to address this major national problem, the college, at its inception was inspired by the famous quotations of Mahatma Gandhi, “My life is my message”, and “be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Gandhi College tries to imitate this Gandhian philosophy by making a firm commitment to conduct its own activities with selflessness, and transparency. The college was named Gandhi College to convey a clear message to students and their parents, faculty and staff, and especially villagers in the surrounding area, that this college will constantly strive towards the Gandhian principles, will have complete transparency in financial matters, and will not allow any copying or cheating during the examinations. The students must attend classes, and teachers must teach regularly – a normal expectation from an academic institution. By forbidding cheating and upholding standards for learning and teaching, both for students and teachers, Gandhi College has demonstrated that it is possible to offer high quality education to students living in poor rural areas, without recourse to unfair means. One of the aims of the college is that women attending Gandhi College should be taught to react, respond, and demand equal rights, to respect their bodies, and to take care of their health.

Gandhi College, by its example, helps persuade villagers that it is possible to have a college where no copying or cheating is allowed. The culture of honesty and transparency has made Gandhi College a unique institution in that part of the country. The hope is that the establishment of an academically excellent educational institution in a rural area that is managed with honesty and integrity will also be a catalyst for the future growth of such institutions in other rural areas. Dr. Yogendra Singh, the founding Vice Chancellor of JNCU publicly stated in a lecture at the college that he hopes that other colleges in the district will also follow the example of Gandhi College.


Gandhi College, by its example, helps persuade villagers that it is possible to have a college where no copying or cheating is allowed. The culture of honesty and transparency has made Gandhi College a unique institution in that part of the country. The hope is that the establishment of an academically excellent educational institution in a rural area that is managed with honesty and integrity will also be a catalyst for the future growth of such institutions in other rural areas. Dr. Yogendra Singh, the founding Vice Chancellor of JNCU publicly stated in a lecture at the college that he hopes that other colleges in the district will also follow the example of Gandhi College.