The Geographical Society of India, formerly Calcutta Geographical Society, was set up on the 29th July, 1933 as a purely voluntary learned body for development of the science of the earth surface as the home of mankind by thirteen founder members drawn from different institutions and from diverse disciplines. The band of these serious-thinking visionaries had the capacity to rightly foresee the shape of things to come and correctly visualize the rising importance of the upcoming new science of modern geography. Further, the founding fathers of the Society played a highly significant role in transforming the earlier drab structure of classical geography into a really vibrant and absolutely modern-cum-rational scientific discipline of the 20th century. This was how the Society as a learned body came into existence, then styled as the Calcutta Geographical Society, on the 29th July, 1933 in the Department of Geology of Presidency College, Calcutta. This Society was set up some eight years before the setting up of the regularUniversityDepartment of Geography at Calcutta.
As recorded in the proceedings of the Calcutta Geographical Society (1936), its founding fathers comprised a wonderful mix of experts highly qualified in different disciplines other than geography proper. The name of the founding fathers :
- Dr. H. C. Roy, M.A., P.R.S., Ph.D.
- Prof. D. N. Sen
- Prof. N. N. Chatterjee, M.Sc.
- Prof. S. L. Biswas, M.Sc.
(All were from different post-graduate teaching departments of C.U.)
- Prof. S.C. Majumdar, M.A., B.L.
- Prof. M. M. Chatterjee, Ph.D.
- Prof. B. N. Maitra, M.Sc., B.L.
- Prof. K. K. Sengupta
(All were from different departments of Presidency College)
- Dr. D. N. Wadia, M.A., B.Sc.
(Superintending Geologist in the Geological Survey of India)
- Principal Panchanan Sinha, M.A.
- Prof. K. C. Roy Chowdhury, M.A.
(Both from the Department of History, Asutosh College, Kolkata)
- Mr. J. K. Das, B.A., B.T.
- Mr. Binoy Bhusan Nag, B.A., B.T.
(Convener and Organising Secretary, both were teachers of Geography from Ripon Collegiate School & Rani Bhabani School respectively).
It was mainly due to the tireless endeavour of Mr. B. B. Nag, convener and the first Organising Secretary of the Society, the required groundwork was carried out in laying a strong foundation of the Society. He was instrumental in running about from institution to institution to enlist members as many as possible so that the Society could be put up on a solid base against many odds. He correctly realized the urgent need of having such a learned Society.
In 1933 the newly established Calcutta Geographical Society was organized under its first President, Mr. B. M. Majumdar, who happened to be at that time a highly influential Fellow of the University, a member of the Syndicate and Chairman of the Board of Studies in Geography at Calcutta University. The names of twelve illustrious Presidents of the Society will give some idea about the way how the Society grew up, over the decades under their care and active support. The Presidents of the Society since its inception are as follows :
- Mr. B. M. Majumdar, (1933-34), M.A.,B.L., a member of the Syndicate, University of Calcutta.
- Dr. A. M. Heron (1934-37), Director, Geological Survey of India.
- Mr. D. N. Wadia (1937-39), Superintending Geologist, Geological Survey of India.
- Dr. B. C. Law (1939-47), M.A.,B.L.,Ph.D.,D.Litt., a great Ideologist.
- Dr. W.D. West (1947-48), Geological Survey of India.
- Prof. P. N. Banerjee (1948-51), Vice-Chancellor, University of Calcutta.
- Prof. S. P. Chatterjee (1951-71), Head, Department of Geography, C. U.
- Prof. K. Bagchi (1971-87), Head, Department of Geography, C. U.
- Prof. S. K. Munsi (1987-95), Former Fellow, I.C.S.S.R., Calcutta
- Prof. P. K. Sircar (1995-96), Former Prof. of Geography, State University of New York, USA.
- Mr. S. P. Dasgupta (1996-2010), Former Director, NATMO, Govt. of India.
- Dr. P. Nag (2010-2013), Director, NATMO, Govt. of India.
- Prof. Pijush Kanti Saha (2013-2014), Former Vice-Chancellor, North Bengal University.
- Smt. Suprova Ray (Since 2014), Former Professor, Department of Geography, C. U.
Mr. B. Majumdar helped to lay down the foundation of the Society on a strong base and was able to convince the University about the importance of Geography as an emerging academic discipline.
When the Calcutta Geographical Society was set up in 1933, the aims and objects as adopted by the Society reflect the visionary foresight and the missionary zeal of its founding fathers. The initial object of the Society was “to spread geographical knowledge and to develop the interest in geographical studies amongst progressively minded people of the country especially amongst those engaged in academic pursuit itself. This was mainly done through the organisation of lectures and illustrated talks at frequent intervals at suitable places and convenient times. Simultaneously the Society decided to publish bulletins and a journal which could serve as the Society’s organ for furthering the aims and objects of the Society.” The Society brought out the journal styled as the “Calcutta Geographical Review”.It was the 2nd January, 1951, the new revised constitution of the Society was adopted. The Calcutta Geographical Society was renamed as “The Geographical Society of India”. The aims and objects of the Society were further sharpened, but the spirit of the original founders remained almost the same.Under the revised constitution the Society resolved to work by undertaking and organising on voluntary basis several activities, such as :
- To promote and diffuse geographical knowledge.
- To foster a spirit of adventure and research in geographical matters.
- To safe-guard the interest of the science of geography and of persons interested in geography.
- To encourage and help persons engaged in the work of geographical research and the spread of geographical knowledge.
- To secure for the subject its legitimate place in the curricula of the University.
- To publish the Society’s journal renamed as the ‘Geographical Review of India’ containing research articles on geographical matters and other allied subjects, book reviews, etc.
- To organise meetings, discussions, lectures, talks, etc.
- To organise geographical excursions, surveys, expeditions, etc. and to carry out rigorous field research.
- To organise conference, seminars, exhibitions, etc.
- To provide a library service of geographical publications for the benefit of research scholars.