12Santiniketan scrapbook was a favourite subject of mine, till it got discontinued for some months. This time it is being rejuvenated, basically to punch all sorts of news and events together- in short these scrapbooks reflect the state of present tense in and around Santiniketan in a more candid way.
34Strictly speaking, in our childhood days, Santiniketan was a reality of ‘Santiniketan and its surrounding areas’ combined; in those days the place never really meant the University campus only. The landscape of adjoining Santiniketan is now smeared yellow by the delectable looking mustard fields. The Saraswati Puja on 25th January had its own impact, with Bengali parents and children being terribly fond (or shall I say afraid!) of the Goddess of Knowledge. The methodical worship of hefty looking text books would normally suggest that Devi Saraswati should be someone fairly scary to deal with. The text books ritually have a tendency to add up few pages every year and hence turning fatter year after year. In our school days we could carry all our text books etc to Patha Bhavana nicely folded within our Asanas (sitting carpets); but these days a voluminous rucksack has become a must. Life has certainly assumed ‘back-breaking’ proportions now right from childhood it seems. Thank God, we managed a more frolicking childhood at least!
567Talking about text books, Visva Bharati very recently organized a book fair around the swanky Central Library area from 21 to 24 January. I just roamed about, and in the process naturally got absorbed into few titles and ultimately got entrapped with curiosity to purchase ‘Chaos and Fractals – New Frontiers of Science’, a German publication with a whopping with rebate Rs3000+ price tag for which I had to rush back to the ATM kiosk. The book was intended to be a surprise gift to my son who is a graduate Mathematics student at Visva Bharati; thankfully he loved the gift immensely.
These days I hardly go through books except reading Rabindranath sporadically every now and then just to keep the spiritual flavor burning within- though not a very well concerted attempt, a rather vague one in reality I will not hesitate to accept. I was naturally fairly surprised by the variety of subjects the academicians tackle these days and in fact was quite intrigued by few titles. Like the one in picture above “Reading after Theory”. Now, jokingly saying, why should people bother to read at all after the essence of the theory has been gulped down conveniently- now it is time to get to the actual job man! Now lifting the particular book, I found the next, a more reveling one in line- “The Future of Theory” by the same author. Oops, it is already difficult to predict future, now there is a discussion on about ‘the future of theory’ itself! I only hope there remains some ‘hope for theory in future’. Next in line was ‘Encyclopedia of Ethics’ which completely blew me off. I thought reading that book would make me a master of ethical behaviour, kind of making of a great citizen of the world; till a Geography faculty member explained to me that all these discourses are related to the subject Philosophy. Then I could comprehend my ordeal in correct perspective, after all in our times with the presence of Late Anjan Shukla around the Philosophy guys were always considered much weirder than the science students like us, naturally the bewilderment with ‘Future of Theory’ and ‘Encyclopedia of Ethics’ gradually eased out! But I certainly had a tough time!
On a more serious and proper note, it was really intriguing to find so many avenues to challenge ‘Truth’ from a philosophical point of view. I have no idea really, but Philosophy appears to a naive me, a subject always intending to challenge ‘Truth’ rather than finding it – ofcourse here I will definitely not like to tread on the religious philosophy which tend to emphatically stamp the ‘Truth’ first and then constructs its deliberations.
89Now the title ‘Sustainability of Scholastic Information’ was another one on display simply putting my analytic frame of mind in bewildered disarray! If information were essentially scholastic, then why it should encounter a sustainability problem? Later the stall owner explained to me that it was really a Library Science issue! I kept on wondering about the seemingly infinite avenues knowledge has managed to diverge into, whether pure or technical. The book fair held being more academics oriented was literally an eye opener for me on avenues of academic pursuit. It seems any topic, under the Sun and much beyond it, is eligible for academic consideration provided one has the persuasive and convincing power to establish its academic utility. In that sense academics seems to be an area with exciting possibilities, well, provided one can work on the issue of ‘sustainability of scholastic information’ again!
1011There were innumerable academic and near academic titles to awe the non-academicians like me. As a result I went on reading the titles with rapt attention. I was naturally curious at titles like ‘India’s Muslim Spring –Why Is Nobody Talking About It’ or ‘Preserving Complex Digital Objects’ or ‘The Good International Citizen’ (Wow!) or ‘The Basics – Opera’ and quite a few others.I must admit that the wealth of information has now assumed such diverse proportions that hardly anyone can turn into the ‘wise old sage’ of earlier millenniums. In hind thought, perhaps this immense expansion of knowledge has managed to create conflicts of incomprehensibility among the learned fraternity world over, including conflicts among different religious sects. We are probably treading into an age were all conflicts can ultimately be traced down to our own inability to manage the growing diversity of knowledge efficiently- a point perhaps to be contemplated seriously by us. Proper management of diversity of knowledge seems to a real problem for mankind now; synthesis might be the key word to probe in this new millenium.
The book fair was really a great eye opener for me, enjoyed every bit, and a huge lot of thanks to Visva Bharati for arranging this. I hope this book fair becomes an annual feature of the University.
121314In the meanwhile the administrative power equations within Visva Bharati got a bit complicated as per recent status. Central Government constituted a one woman committee led by Ms Sikha Swarup to investigate some irregularities, chiefly regarding appointments, made in Vice Chancellor Prof Sushanta Dattagupta’s tenure. There are allegations over a few other issues as well, one among them interestingly being ‘an autocratic way of functioning’ by Professor Dattagupta. Now, nobody can become an autocrat unless one is allowed to! In consequence, HRD Ministry has advised Visva Bharati administration to appoint a Pro-Vice Chancellor immediately; the sanctioned post were kept vacant by Prof Dattagupta deliberately. The name of senior Prof Chakradhar Tripathi got floated in media, perhaps recommended by MHRD as well, but Vice Chancellor proposed the name of Prof Swapan Datta, an agricultural scientist, ex-faculty member of PSV, but now involved with Rice Research Institute of Government of India as Pro Vice Chancellor of Visva Bharati, which was subsequently passed in Executive Council Meeting on 24 January 2015.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dattgupta also created two new Pro-Vosts(unsanctioned) posts in Science-Prof Sudhendu Mondal and for Kala Bhavan-Prof Nirmalendu Das in addition to 3 Pro Vosts already in operation. So, in essence the administrative power centers have become rather numerous now, with one Vice Chancellor, one Pro Vice Chancellor and 5 Pro Vosts. Statistically the arrangement may sound interesting; but ground results are not much encouraging in any case; Visva Bharati seems to be in an administrative jugglery mode with a whole lot of Directors, Dy Directors,Pro Vosts etc etc. At this point, whatever may be the good intentions of such structural wizardy if any, the whole exercise seems to be a rather elaborate power sharing arrangement- a kind of end-game maneuver as in chess by Prof Sushanta Dattagupta in his remaining less than 2 year tenure in Visva Bharati. It is the usual sad story for each successive Vice Chancellors, first they take one year to create one’s own style of functioning, go full steam for next two years, and try hard in last two years to contain discontent within Visva Bharati in one form or other! Sometimes the discontents are genuine, but at other times manufactured! The same has happened to all the preceding Vice Chancellors Dilip Sinha, Sujit Basu, Rajat Kanta Ray, prior to Prof Sushanta Dattgupta. So, we are now in for the fustrating end game, but only exception this time is that Prof Sushanta Datagupta has certainly made it a fairly intriguing game for the Visva Bharati community! In case of Prof Rajat kanta Ray, the end game resulted in a complete stalemate where nothing moved within Visva Bharati. I hope the situation improves this time and do not become a stale and drab affair for Visva Bharati- actually Visva Bharati can hardly afford such nonproductive and confusing years in the life of an academic institution.
15As an outsider, I must frankly opine, that this end game is terribly boring for us and absolutely inconsequential as far as the future of Visva Bharati is concerned; an absolute waste of time and energy on foolish manipulations and maneuvers, which usually remain a drawn game at the end! The Patha Bhavana and Siksha Satra issue remains unsettled in the latest Executive Council meeting without any concrete decision either way about the internal quota; but the executive council has directed Vice Chancellor Prof Dattagupta to re-instate Ms Bodhirupa Sinha as Principal of Patha Bhavana with immediate effect as per newspaper report.

So, we are perhaps into another boring phase of Visva Bharati. But, knowing Prof Sushanta Dattagupta a very little bit, the endgame might become fairly intriguing than the pathetically stalemate end tenure of Prof Rajat Kanta Ray at least- that was a nightmare time with nothing moving within Visva Bharati. But, we, the ex-students are hardly amused by this turn of events, this is actually a big repeated irritant to us.

So, let us pray now. Amen.

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1 Comment to

  1. Shubhashis Mitra says:

    Chandana Dey –
    Do carry on writing and putting up your photos. so many people follow this site with interest. it’s especially important for those like me- who haven’t been able to visit Santiniketan much recently… but who are still involved with the place and people.

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