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Tributes – Sib Chandra Deb

20 July 1811 – 12 November 1890

Sib Chandra Deb, born on 20th July 1811, was a disciple of Henry Vivian Derozio. Sib Chandra joined the Hindu College in 1825. Being one of the earliest batches of this esteemed college Sib Chandra was one of the few of the first young men who were well versed in English. Sib Chandra Deb was brilliant and was awarded with a scholarship to study in the college. He was very proficient in mathematics and joined the survey department initially. But later he changed over to administrative services and became a deputy collector in 1838. Since the post of deputy collector was opened to the Indian candidates in 1833, Sib Chandra was among the earliest of the English-knowing official in government service.

During his youth Sib Chandra Deb occasionally attended the Brahmo Sabha where he met Raja Rammohun Roy. Being inspired by the great reformer he joined the Brahmo Samaj in 1843. He was a contemporary of Devendranath Tagore. He was associated with the Brahmo Samaj movement from its very inception. He was intimate with leaders like Devendranath, Keshab Chandra Sen, Acharya Sivnath Shastri. He was associated with the Adi, Nababidhan and Sadharan Samajes and was on cordial terms with all despite the schism.  Sib Chandra Deb founded the Medinipur Brahmo samaj in 1846 and Konnagar brahmo Samaj in 1863. When Keshab Chandra Sen founded the Brahmo Samaj of India (Bharatbarshio Brahmo Mandir) he supported the progressive Brahmos and assisted the movement. But when the leaders like Sivnath Shastri, Anandamohon Bose, Umesh Chandra Dutt and Durga Mohon Das protested against the Coochbihar marriage and the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was formed, Sib Chandra joined the new Samaj.

 He always actively supported any form of reform and was intimate with reformers like Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar who visited him in his home and regarded him as an elder brother. Sib Chandra Deb extended his help to Vidyasagar for arranging the widow remarriages, a very controversial issue in those days. He was a strong proponent of female education. Sib Chandra opened a school for girls in his village Konnagar. He would send his own palanquin to fetch the girl students. He wrote a book on child care called ‘Shishu Palan’ to educate the women on bringing up their children. He followed it up by starting an English school for boys in his village. Sib Chandra Deb was active in promoting science and education. He joined in the efforts of Dr Mahendralal Sarakar to establish a centre for research in Science that came to be called the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science. He was politically conscious and teamed with Anandamohan Bose and Surendranath Banerjee in forming the Indian National Association, the forerunner for independence movement in India.

Sib Chandra was instrumental in improving the civic amenities of Konnagar. He opened a public library and reading room and arranged for a post office. He sent petitions to the East Indian Railways and railway authorities yielded to his repeated petitions to make the train stop at a station at Konnagar. He officiated as the Commissioner of Serampore municipality from 1865 to 1878.

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