LOCATING MYSELF IN SANTINIKETAN
Off late, these days, I am having genuine problems to locate myself at Santiniketan. It may be due to age, just a whimsical fancy of mine. Or it might be real too! Somewhere a chord from the root to the top echelon of Santiniketan appears to be distinctly snapped. The effect of Santiniketan, apart from a cash generating machine in a confined pocket, is purely absent 2 kms away from the place. The problem for me is that, Santiniketan was always a huge amount of space for me, the chord of life was distinctly intact even 30 years back, spreading quite a few wide kilometers in radius. This shrinking of space into a pretty confined zone, interspersed with heavily constructed private territory is at best a illusion of uniformity with the nature and existence around. Santiniketan, from being a cohesive part of existence, is now a huge aberration from its surroundings. Naturally, I lost my roots as well, like many others. It does not matter much either, as we have learnt by now to float around in a fluid space of existence. But a loss, never the less, is a loss, and it did not bring us much joy either. The change of Santiniketan, from cohesion to aberration, is indeed a pain, whether one accepts it or not!
It is disturbing to know that to these people, it hardly matters if Santiniketan ever existed barely a kilometer away! What a colossal wastage of effort and time by Rabindranath, trying to establish a belief in human self in an odd place of rural Bengal, where today people barely 2 kms away can easily do without Santiniketan, except perhaps, repeat perhaps, for a bit of marketing at Poush Mela! The natural inference would be that the ‘self belief’ in Santiniketan exists no more! I am acutely aware right now, that I am not being too wrong either in saying so. The logical conclusion should be, the shelf life of the ‘Tagorean Concepts of Living and Learning’ is over.
Ha,ha..perhaps it is intellectually convenient to take refuge in the mad Baul’s psyche, though he is a much travelled entity into Europe and elsewhere. Kind of an internationalism you can say, which may tickle our senses into some sort of ecstasy. But hardly any University outside India recognizes Visva Bharati as a credible place of learning, well, except a few in United Kingdom! Britishers still do revere Rabindranath, I reckon. Ofcourse I am not referring to Bangladesh, where Santiniketan is still an awed place.
The whole of Visva Bharati is waiting for (1) a permanent Vice Chancellor to set foot and (2) Early settlement of 7th Pay Commission with all promotional issues sorted out. The permanent Vice Chancellor is desperately needed not exactly for development issues, but to sort out the backlog of promotions stymied for last two years. The permanent Vice Chancellor is due with a huge bounty for its employees, both academic and non academic. I am sure he/she will this time be greeted very warmly in Visva Bharati.
In the meanwhile, there remains hardly much pathway for Rabindranath to even have a peaceful stroll in this fading lights of ‘self belief’.