POUSH MELA, OUSTER OF SUSHANTA DATTAGUPTA & DEMONETIZATION
It may appear quite bizarre a combination of topics, but all are well related to Santiniketan.
POUSH MELA 2016: The Court Order restricted the annual fair only to 3 days from 23rd to 25th December, but in effect this year the fair ran its usual course spilling over to first few days of 2017. The three or perhaps four layers of arrangers for the Poush Mela, (1) The Santiniketan Trust (2) The Mela Committee (3) Visva Bharati University by virtue of providing the fair ground and (4) the local administration & police blamed each other for the flouting of court order. Santiniketan Trust and Mela Committee said evicting stall owners is the duty of administration & police: police and administration said the Trust or Mela Committee never requested us to evict the stall owners. Local Trinamul bigwigs distributed pamphlets urging the fair to continue till its logical conclusion without disruption. In effect, no one was really eager to evict the stall owners and hamper the business prospect of the fair so inspite of a court order the Poush Mela continued just like other years, the only casualty was the fireworks display which was banned by court order. The mockery of the court order establishes the inability of the administration to force a decision over the popular demand in India. To some, it was good business as usual, to others the annual nuisance persisted this time too.
From an insider of Mela Committee, I came to know, Visva Bharati administration felt it more comfortable to face the wrath of the court, than to face severe opposition from stall owners bolstered by the political party in power and the subsequent law and order problems in the fairground!
THE OUSTER OF SUSHANTA DATTGUPTA: This cannot really be a topic, as Prof Sushanta Dattgupta is already a forgotten name in Visva Bharati. But his ouster promised many other cleansing acts in Visva Bharati, including an overhaul of the administration, but as expected those never happened. Nothing really moved in Visva Bharati after a year and half long hectic press, CBI, agitations so on and so forth; only Mr Dattagupta was removed from Vice Chancellorship. Subsequently Ms Smita Irani was also removed from HRD, CBI inconclusively vanished from Visva Bharati arena as they usually do. In effect nothing really changed in Visva Bharati, the same old faces with same old wisdom or guile resurfaced again, and everything appears to be fine. Nilanjan Bandopadhyay, a person dismissed by Mr Dattagupta on not so valid ground, was reinstated in Visva Bharati by court. But the apparently fragile Nilanjan managed to inflict a telling blow to Mr Dattagupta by keeping his Padmasree Award at perpetual abeyance. As a postmortem, Prof Dattagupta’s unwise fiddling with Patha Bhavana and Siksha Satra and a rather illogical personal feud with Nilanjan Bandopadhyaya cost him dear. Practically speaking both were uncalled for, and the subsequent drama wasted one and half years of activity of the University, a huge loss of momentum without not even a single positive after effect. Visva Bharati is in a lull now; or perhaps this is the normal state of this University to be in -a perpetual slumber.
DEMONETIZATION: To be very objectively honest severity of demonetization was hardly felt in Visva Bharati and the surrounding areas due to a very astute currency and man management by State Bank of India, Santiniketan Branch. As I am an active member of State Bank of India Santiniketan team, it is rather clumsy for me to report on this, but never the less the bank’s performance has been appreciated the community here and the appreciation spilled over to press as well. The insider story is a very well calculated currency management was conducted with such precision of timing that one ATM was kept running with around 95% operating time and the branch never ran short of cash and offered the full amount entitled to the customers keeping all the regulatory parameters properly adhered. As you know, till date that is 8 January 2017 the process is on, as currency distribution is still not normal.
Having said so, and being very much in the thick of the action with a major part to play in currency management of SBI Santiniketan, I would opine that the currency crisis due to demonetization was not a task which could not be managed, as exemplified very nicely by State Bank Santiniketan Branch. I would like to make a specific note here, as a banker and exstudent of Visva Bharati, that only inefficient planning by individual bank branches and corrupt practices (if any) could lead to such large scale mismanagement in currency supply and distribution- a sad story indeed. I hope the situation has improved elsewhere, as for the people of Santiniketan, demonetization was hardly a big issue!
Visva Bharati has been prodded by Central Government to go the digital way, State Bank Santiniketan branch is collaborating with Visva Bharati on this aspect- a new area to tread on. I hope and wish that the relation between Visva Bharati and State Bank Santiniketan branch to be smooth, and technically sound.