We are honoured by the gesture of Vice Chancellor Prof Sushanta Dattagupta to share his thoughts with us. This basically opens up a constructive debate, and we expect debates and discussions to enrich the experience, which may in turn help the administration of Visva Bharati to formulate policies accordingly. At the least, it is a recorded version of the aspirations of the administration of Visva Bharati in 2014. We are thankful to the Vice Chancellor of Visva Bharati for sharing his thoughts with the ex-students of Visva Bharati.
Personally, I shall like to record my observation regarding relation of Visva Bharati University with UGC, a historical one in essence, as a prologue from 1950-1985. VBU was established in 1951, UGC around two years later. At around 1952/53 Rathindranath Tagore, the then Vice Chancellor immediately after VBU was declared to be a Central University left Visva Bharati for good. Then at the times of Jawharlal Nehru & Indira Gandhi, the administrators of Visva Bharati always expected the chancellors of the University to take special care about Visva Bharati which they did without fail. In those times, lets say from 50s to 80s Visva Bharati did not come up with an exclusive “Educational Vision Statement/Plan” and pursued it strongly with UGC. The Chancellors was there to back Visva Bharati, but unfortunately and very unwisely Visva Bharati missed that opportunity to shape its own destiny. From 1985 onwards, when Jawharlal and Indira was no longer with us, UGC started to be more of an enforcement agency on higher education with huge lot of strictures and guidelines on a national level. Accordingly Visva Bharati had to fall in line, and soon lost the unique character very fast. Now, the UGC guidelines and Visva Bharati’s own aspirations are often in conflict; and in this conflict Visva Bharati seems to be losing ground every day. After all the wishes of the funding agencies remain supreme as always. In my humble view, it was a big blunder by the stalwarts of Santiniketan from 1950s to 80s by not shaping a specific Educational Vision Statement from Visva Bharati to present it strongly with the UGC to influence the decision making processes there; in fact that perhasp could have shaped the national policy of education by UGC in a different way in India. A great opportunity was missed altogether probably because the think tanks of Visva Bharati from 1950s to 80s could not foresee the future implications of such callousness.
From 1985 to recent times– In this period we have seen several Vice Chancellors interpreting Tagore’s vision according to their own choice, and as a result initiated few new measures, many of them later to be discarded by the Next Vice Chancellor. VBU once went for affiliated institutes to raise internal resources, only to be scrapped by the next Vice Chancellor. Management Courses were started, Computer Software courses started with much fanfare, only to be scrapped later. The new Bhasa Bhavana is also one such example where successive Vice Chancellors differ on its usefullness in the context of Visva Bharati and Rabindranath Tagore. What ever be the merit of the cases, the impression to the outsiders and ex-students were simple- that is, off late, Visva Bharati seems to be in a Policy Vacuum regarding its vision in education.Though the HLC suggestions are there, chalked out around 5 years back, and were made open to public, we do not know anything about how much was accepted by the admisnitration of Visva Bharati and how much was rejected or shelved for the time being and what was the action plan regarding HLC- they were not made public. From Prof Sushanta Dattagupta’s discourse it seems he is interested to open a dialogue and that also makes us think that he is actually asking us to think afresh. In my opinion in such policy guideline decisions very keen involvement of Faculty Members and by senior students of Visva Bharati is also a must. The students should be allowed to interprete Rabindranath Tagore according to their own set of thinking, and their views should also be incorporated accordingly.
Ofcourse, all this is part of history, and part of wishful thinking, it is 2014AD now and it is certain that we are not treading back in time; but it may still be helpful to have some idea about the bygone days of Visva Bharati to shape our arguments.
As much as I remember, in 2012-13, some vision papers were made by different Bhavanas and departments concerned as VISION 2020 as policy guideline to be presented before UGC/NAAC experts. Can VB Administration let us have a glimpses of it ? That will help us to know what their expected policy guideline could be. Apart from that to begin from scratches we should regularly meet the students and faculties there as well as non-teaching staffs to feel their hearts first and motivate them as well through workshops/group discussions in each department. Secondly, teams of ex-students are to be made according to their area of interest to participate in this activity. Let us make a list of such ex-students with details of their interest and availability to initiate this programme.
Upacharya’s presentation is a very important document. Many vital issues have been analysed. Right questions have been raised. Would wait to see action plans, All alumni should communicate with him in a constructive manner.
Ami o Samik er shonge ekmot.
I think just the opposite!
The very first reaction to this paper when it was presented at Lipika ,it was for me and many others ,a positive one ,as it inspired a general discussion ,frank and open ,in which teachers,students,staff,parents ,praktonis and others felt free to participate .I do hope that it happens again .Upacharyamoshae keeps the dialogue open with all .That is a very positive change among others.
আমাদের বর্তমান উপাচার্য মহাশয় ইতিমধ্যেই বিশ্বভারতী বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় এবং আশ্রমের জন্য গত কয়েক বৎসরে বিবিধ উন্নয়নমূলক কাজ করেছেন, আমরা অবশ্যই তার সাক্ষী। এ ছাড়া তাঁর নেতৃত্বে শান্তিনিকেতন ও শ্রীনিকেতনে বিভিন্ন প্রকল্প হাতে নেওয়া হয়েছে যার সুফল নিঃসন্দেহে আমরা অদূর ভবিষ্যতে দেখতে পাব। কিন্তু আমার বক্তব্য তিনি যদি এ পর্যন্ত কোন প্রকল্প সফল না করতে পারতেন অথবা তাঁর কোনো ভবিষ্যৎ পরিকল্পনা সফল না হয় তবুও তাঁর কার্যকালে অন্ততঃ একটি মাত্র সুকৃতি আমাদের মনের মণিকোঠায় চিরউজ্জ্বল হয়ে থাকবে তা হোল বিগত পঞ্চাশ বৎসরের ইতিহাসে তিনিই সম্ভবত একজন উপাচার্য যিনি শুরু থেকেই বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের প্রাক্তনীদের সঠিক মূল্যায়ন ও সম্ভাব্য অবদান সম্পর্কে অতি সচেতন হয়েছেন। সর্বদাই লক্ষ্য করে থাকি প্রাক্তনীদের প্রতি তাঁর সৌজন্য-বোধ আন্তরিক। তাঁর উপদেষ্টামণ্ডলীর মধ্যে অন্ততঃ দশজন প্রবীণ আশ্রমিক আছেন দেখে বহুকাল পরে আমরা মনে ভরসা লাভ করেছি। প্রকৃত প্রাক্তনীদের প্রতি এই স্বীকৃতির উদাহরণ অবশ্যই শান্তিনিকেতনের বুকে এক দৃষ্টান্তমূলক ইতিহাস হয়ে থাকবে এই আমাদের আশা।
উপাচার্য মহাশয়ের অতিআন্তরিক লেখাটি আমাদের মনকে স্পর্শ করেছে তবে প্রাতিষ্ঠানিক সমস্যা সম্বন্ধে তাঁর প্রশ্নের উত্তর বা সমাধান ব্যক্তিগত অভিজ্ঞতার অভাবে অনেকের পক্ষে দেওয়া সম্ভব না হলেও আমি কয়েকটি বিষয়ে তাঁর দৃষ্টি আকর্ষণ করতে আগ্রহী। বিষয়গুলি যদি কেবলমাত্র প্রাক্তনীদের আবেগ হিসাবে বিবেচিত হয় তবে হয়তো সঠিক হবে না যদিও আমি মনে করি প্রাক্তনীদের প্রাণের পুঞ্জিভূত আবেগের শক্তিকে যদি সঠিকরূপে বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় বহু পূর্বেই কাজে লাগাতে সক্ষম হতো তবে শান্তিনিকেতনের জন্য কিছু অধিক মঙ্গলসাধন সম্ভব ছিল।
১) শিক্ষা ঃ পাঠভবন ও শিক্ষাসত্র সম্বন্ধে গুরুদেবের উদ্দেশ্য ও ইচ্ছা আপনি অত্যান্ত সঠিকভাবে বাস্তবিক উপস্থাপিত করলেও আপনার বক্তব্যে পাঠভবন বিদ্যালয়ের শক্তিশালী একটি স্তম্ভ ‘আশ্রম সম্মিলনী’র উল্লেখ পেলাম না। একটি বিদ্যালয়ের আত্ম-শাসনের যে পথ গুরুদেব অধিক শত-বৎসর পূর্বে সূচিত করেছিলেন তা আজও শিক্ষাজগতে অভিনব বলে বিবেচিত হতে পারে। কিন্তু দুঃখের কথা ভারতের আধুনিক শিক্ষা-চিন্তাবিদদের নিকট এই বিষয়টি কোন দিন সঠিকভাবে বিশ্বভারতীর পক্ষ থেকে উপস্থাপিত করা হল না। বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের আলিঙ্গন দুইটি বিদ্যালয়ের ক্ষেত্রে মোটেই শেষাবধি মঙ্গলজনক হয়নি কিন্তু সহজ সমাধানের পথ অধিক সর্বনাশ ডেকে আনতে পারে। শান্তিনিকেতনে দুইটি বিদ্যালয় তাদের সকীয়বৈশিষ্ট্য বজায় রেখে যাতে চলতে পারে সেটাই দেখা উচিত। গুরুদেবের শিক্ষাচিন্তার আদর্শকে সম্মান দিতে গেলে চেষ্টা করা দরকার শান্তিনিকেতনের শিক্ষার ঐতিহ্যকে বজায় রেখে নিজেদের ভুল সংশোধন। ঐতিহ্য বা প্রথা ভাঙ্গা মানেই শিক্ষা ক্ষেত্রে র্যাডিকাল ভাবনা নয়।
২) কলা ও সংস্কৃতি ঃ নৃত্যক্ষেত্রে যেমন রবীন্দ্রনাথের সৃষ্ট নৃত্যরীতিকে ভেঙ্গে পরীক্ষা নিরীক্ষাকে রবীন্দ্র-নৃত্য আখ্যা দেওয়া যাবে না, রবীন্দ্রভবন আয়োজিত রবীন্দ্র পরিক্রমায় তেমনই রবীন্দ্র-নৃত্যের উপর অনুষ্ঠানে প্রধান বক্তার ভাষণ এবং নমুনা হিসাবে উপস্থাপিত নৃত্য, ইত্যাদি আমাদের কাছে ভিন্ন বার্তা বহন করে এনেছে। আমাদের অনুরোধ, নতুন রবীন্দ্র-নৃত্য বিভাগটিকে কোন একজন শান্তিনিকেতনের প্রবীণ শিল্পীর দ্বারা নিয়মিত মনিটরিং এর আওতায় রাখা। নতুবা হয় তো প্রমাদ ঘটে যাওয়ার সম্ভাবনা থেকে যেতে পারে।
৩) প্রকৃতি ও পরিবেশ ঃ শান্তিনিকেতনে বর্তমানে উদ্যান চর্চাতেও ইতিহাস ও ঐতিহ্যকে ভেঙ্গে আধুনিকতার স্পর্শ লেগেছে। সেই ঐতিহ্য ভাঙ্গার প্রয়াস শুধুমাত্র উদ্ভিদ নির্বাচনেই নয় শান্তিনিকেতনের বুকে প্রকৃতি ও পরিবেশ সংক্রান্ত সফল ও সার্থক রবীন্দ্র-রথীন্দ্র-আদর্শকেও চ্যালেঞ্জ জানিয়ে চলেছে। মহর্ষি এবং গুরুদেবের উদ্দেশ্য ছিল উত্তর রাঢ়ের শুষ্ক-মরুর বুকে একটি শ্যামল দ্বীপের সৃষ্টি। স্থানটিতে ছিল তখন তীব্র জলকষ্ট। তাঁদের দূরদৃষ্টির সাহায্যে তাঁরা অবশ্যই অনুভব করেছিলেন এই তপভূমিকে রক্ষা করতে প্রয়োজন ভবিষ্যতের জন্য জলসম্পদের নিশ্চিত প্রতিশ্রুতি। তাঁদের সেই দূরদর্শীতা, স্বপ্ন এবং প্রচেষ্টা যে সার্থক হয়েছে আমরা বর্তমানে সেই সুফলের উপভোক্তা হিসাবে সর্বদাই স্বীকার করি। প্রকৃতির আঙিনায় প্রকৃতিকে সঙ্গী করে জীবনের আশ্রয়স্থল সৃষ্টি করার চিন্তা প্রবলরূপের গুরুদেব গ্রহণ করেছিলেন। শান্তিনিকেতনের বুকে সেই আদর্শকে সামনে রেখে রথীন্দ্রনাথ সার্থক পরিকল্পনা করেছিলেন বায়োলজি এবং ইকোলজির এক মিলনস্থল। আপনার প্রদর্শিত চিত্রগুলি সেই কথাই প্রমাণ করে। সব থেকে বড় কথা, গুরুদেবের চিন্তাধারায় ছিল প্রকৃতির কোলে মানব ও উদ্ভিদের মধ্যে এক আত্মিক সম্পর্ক বা সখ্যতা সৃষ্টি। তিনি তাঁর বিভিন্ন সৃষ্টির আঙিনায় এই তত্বেরই জয়গান গেয়ে গেছেন, সে কাব্য বা সঙ্গীতই হোক, নৃত্য বা নাটক অথবা শিল্পকলা। তিনি চাইতেন এই আশ্রমে শিশুরা উদ্ভিদ বা প্রকৃতিকে চিনতে শিখুক শুধুমাত্র বোটানির বিষয় বলেই নয় অবশ্যই তাদের বন্ধুরূপে। তিনি চেয়েছেন উদ্ভিদ জগতকে স্পর্শ করে, তাদের অবলম্বন করে শিশুদের চরিত্র গঠিত হোক। তাই আশ্রমের বুকে কোন বৃক্ষকে বেষ্টন করে বেড়া বা বাধা সৃষ্টি তিনি করতে চান নি। আশ্রমের শিশু এবং সকলের ফুল-ফল গাছ এবং সব বৃক্ষের নিকট ছিল অবাধ গতিবিধি। কোনো কানন বা কুঞ্জে না ছিল বেড়া না ছিল তালা বা পাহারাদার। আশ্রমের ছেলে মেয়েরা সেখানে পরমানন্দে গাছে গাছে উঠে অহরহ সংগ্রহ করতো ফুল ও ফল। এইভাবেই ঋতুতে ঋতুতে চলতো উদ্ভিদ ও জীবের নব-নব সম্পর্ক স্থাপন।
৪) আর্থিক ঃ ইউ-জি-সি নির্ণীত এক্তিয়ারের বাহিরের আর্থিক প্রয়োজনের কথা মাথায় রেখে প্রাক্তনীদের সাহায্যে একটি তহবিলের কথা চিন্তা করা যেতেই পারে। সেই তহবিলের প্রস্তাব প্রাক্তনীদের সঙ্গে বর্তমান উপাচার্যের প্রথম সাক্ষাতে তিনি করেছিলেন। সারা পৃথিবীতে আমরা হাজার হাজার প্রাক্তনী ছড়িয়ে আছি। আমাদের ক্ষমতামত মুষ্টি-ভিক্ষায় সেই আন্তর্জাতিক তহবিল গঠিত হতে অসুবিধা কোথায়। এ ব্যাপারে উপাচার্য মহাশয়ের উপদেষ্টামণ্ডলীর শীর্ষে যিনি আছেন তাঁর অর্থনৈতিক জ্ঞান সুবিদিত। আমি সকলের দৃষ্টি আকর্ষণ করি।
আমরা প্রাক্তনীরা অপেক্ষা করে আছি। গুরুদেবের শিক্ষা থেকে আমরা জানি, শুভশক্তি নিঃশব্দে জাগে, ধীরে কাজ করে।
শুভার্থী ইন্দ্রজিৎ মৈত্র
with reference to the observation made on Rabindra Nritya in the above thread, the specific subject of pursuit introduced in Sangit Bhavana, very recently, I would like to share a short story told by my mother Lt Sujata Mitra (Buridi to many) to me about Santiniketan at the time of Rabindranath Tagore.
Rabindranath was preparing for a stage show at Kolkata to raise money for Visva Bharati, the rehearsals of which were held at Udayana every evening. Girls from Patha Bhavana also used to participate, and my mother was one among them. The first to arrive for the rehearsals were the Patha Bhavan girls and Gurudeva himself, and he used to have a good chat with the girls. In one such occassion the girls and Gurudeva got engaged in some sort of an intellectual and creative competition, like creating instant poetry, solving riddles and et cetera. Naturally the girls of Patha Bhavana were losing hands down.Then one witty girl quipped in(translated) ‘Gurudeva, we know you are good at many things, but you just can not dance like us!’ Of all things, Gurudeva was completely floored, much to the glee of the girls!
The story is important in the context, that what we know as ‘Rabindra Nritya’ today, was never explicitly developed by Rabindranath Tagore; he only provided with some aesthetic guidelines, and the specific dancing patterns were subsequently evolved by the several Gurus who taught dance in those days. So, Rabindra Nritya essentially is a collective expression developed by the several early Gurus of Santiniketan. Smt Nilanjana Sen (Chuadi) raised a question on the floor of Lipika itself when the reproduced lecture here was delivered by Prof Sushanta Dattagupta, whether this particular subject should be named ‘Rabindra Nritya’ at all. No one respended to her poser there, but technically this is an important issue to ponder. ‘Rabindra Nritya’, or however we phrase it, essentially is a form of dance destined to evolve in an unique way; it is essentially a creative form of dance and it should not be a repeatative assembly of several classical dance forms of India. The freedom to create and express, without to much unnatural frills, is perhaps the core essence of this dance form. Lastly, with great humility, I shall admit that I am no expert in this particular issue; having said that I must also record here that I was fortunate enough to watch several great dancers of Santiniketan from fairly close quarters right from my childhood.
Sharmila Roy Pommot
I suggested ‘Rabindranather nrityodhara/bhabona,gobeshona o chorcha’as it is aptly explained by Shubhashis, a ‘probohomaan’ or fluid and flowing attitude that was nourished and still is, by different currents. Apparently Prof Shankhya Ghosh thinks that ‘Rabindranrityo’is the correct title for the course. It is a highly debatable point and I would have loved to have ideas/suggestions/thoughts from Gabludi(Diyali Lahiri),Chiku(Srila Chatterjee) ,Khukuranidi (Subhra Tagore) and Chua (Nilanjana Sen). Alas,Ankhi (Suchandra Mitra/Bose) could have given very valid arguments about it.
One thing is unique here. For the first time I get to see the views and thoughts of a VC which is available in print in front of me. I feel good about objectively looking at a document to put together my thoughts in an organized manner, that’s what I guess my trained engineering mind always looks for. Anyway, it’s obviously the task of the Administration of VB to pay heed to suggestions from ex-students like me or not.
Among the questions raised, I found few of them are quite interesting, one being the issue of Patha Bhavana and Siksha Satra. Few high level questions that I had been deliberating are –
– Have both the schools deviated from its original vision of the founder in some way or the other especially when both are governed by UGC rule?
– Are there any differences in the curriculum of both the schools, which differentiates one from the other?
– Are these two schools competing with each other?
– Why do we allow carrying the mindset within the people of Santiniketan in choosing between the two schools where Patha Bhavan is considered as “Big Brother” & Sikha Satra is relegated to play the second fiddle? I am tempted to say that there is almost a “class difference” that exists within such mindset where Patha Bhavan tends to assume an ‘elitist’ position among the two. [This might sound blunt, but as a reality check, please look into how many of VB University Teachers sent their children to Sikhsa Satra as a preferred destination over Patha Bhavan etc]. Do we want to carry on with that mindset?
If we get some honest answers to the above I believe the answer is obvious and there is no harm in relooking or at least deliberating towards some kind of restructuring built upon the strengths of both the institutions.
Just as a disclaimer, my observations are purely based on these bigger questions whereas at the ground level it’s obviously a huge effort to bring in people even to deliberate on this with all concerned. There could be huge practical difficulties as well as insecurities that might crop up within minds who are actively involved in both the places.
But then why not try creating Vidya Bhavan –I and Vidya Bhavan –II !
Restructuring of Patha Bhavana & Siksha Satra:- On a purely analytical ground, if the two schools are thought to be different, they should have different identities; but if the two schools are not different in any way the seperate identities hardly have any real meaning, apart from the emotional one which has its own valid dimensions too. After all it is emotions which makes us rooted to life, but one should not get acarried away by emotions- that can have a negative impact as well. So, emotion, is a tricky issue, but not exactly an unreasonable one. Accordingly if we think along the line of separate identities for two schools, that is Patha Bhavana and Siksha Satra I think in that case the only avaible option for Visva Bharati will be to make one residential and the other a non residential one- as was the nature at the time of inception of these schools. There will remain very little scope for different kind of courses to be taught at different schools for practical reasons. This kind of a restructuring would not lead to anything new as such, in practical terms in over all evaluation things will remain more or less same. But this will make the character of the two schools hugely different, and at this point, I do not know whether such difference in character with identical courses to follow will be really beneficial, this can have its own ill effects too.
Then the other option remains to restructure differently; about this I would not like to suggest anything and would rather like the administration of Visva Bharati to spell out their plans. But a very important point is to be pondered seriously, that is the Bramha Vidyalaya (later Patha Bhavana) was the very first inception for the concept of Santiniketan, Sriniketan and Visva Bharati to take shape. So, the basic idea, or lets say the basic wish of Gurudeva, Rabindranath Tagore should be respected with utmost care. Just like we can not uproot the Chatimtala and shift it somewhere else, or the Upasana Griha for the sake of restructuring, in my honest opinion the school section in the Ashrama Complex is also one such core character which should not be shifted for the sake of a restructure.
History, History and History. What we can do with this kind of descriptive write-ups ? We all know these how Gurudev started with his ideas and who are the luminaries who have critically evaluated his activities. The future directives are completely missing in terms of tangible achievements in this write up. This is the core problem with our present time thinkers. They write narratives, provide lots of references and then draw a fine conclusion that remains inconclusive. As a VC, his transformational ideas should have been based on Modern Technology. Providing students with cloud computing facilities, on line resources, direct University e mail facilities with the teachers, and more importantly, providing students with a complete learning experience that is modern and can compete with the international Quality Standard. And what about the Employ-ability of our students at the completion of courses? Prayer in Mandir and occasional singing around Chatimtala can enrich our minds and fuel good memories among old ex-students. But that does not generate promise of employment. We need to know what is the University’s connectivity with the Job Market/ Industry/ Research Institute/ Commerce. We need to know how our children’s future is shaped by their teachers. We need to know exactly what is the future of our students who opt to study there and what role the University plays. We never expected such a directionless write-up from the present VC of this institution that severely lacks concrete future directions.
We have no negative feeling about Visva Bharati or the Vice Chancellor. Rather as former students, we are deeply concerned about this institution and its management centered around only one person. There should be enough space for a collective leadership.
I am in total agreement with Deb Sircar. Some issues like lack of sense of dissociation and pride in both the faculties and students have crept in which reflects degeneration of human resources in this university as well as a neglected health care system. How does he counteract to these issues ?
Yes, of course we can and should share/contribute positively to the questions raised, but, I am quite apprehensive about results of that sharing. However, I can instantly cite an example: it was during 1980-84 that I acted as a member in the executive council of Jadavpur University, and came in close contacts with how a good university should run; the then Vice Chancellor of JU, Professor Asoke Nath Basu, was very much enthusiastic about his message – “One Teacher One Research Project'”; this enforced some kind of synergy among the teachers which drew JU to a status of five-star university following evaluation by UGC. This trend still goes strongly there where each and every teacher and student feels proud to be a part of the community. Professor Basu and his predecessor Dr. Triguna Sen were very much keen about total development in this way and could help each and everyone without any bar, but, never pushed their own ways through in spite of being very renowned scientists and academicians themselves. Accordingly Jadavpur University is still considered to the best University in West Bengal.
This website Muktodhara is an excellent platform on which we are getting almost all the important reports about Visva Bharati and Santiniketan. Being a retired banker myself I am aware of the constraints a bank job has on his time and Shubhashis Mitra deserves my appreciations on the rocks. This is a platform where we could contribute first by understanding the SWOT the authorities are obliged to negotiate and the Vice Chancellor, who else, has the prerogative to lead from the front, because otherwise we would be finding fault with him, it’s like the proverbial শাঁখের করাত situation. It is quite something that he has deviated from the erstwhile nose up/ stiff lip attitudes of the authorities preceding him, to whatever little extent; at least it seems he is not averse to show his hand and expose himself to criticisms and accolades, meritorious or not in both the short and long runs. This is just a part of the prologue to be continued later. I believe the alumni too has to look for opportunities and it does not help in anyway if the pitch is belligerent from the onset. In my opinion, Santiniketan and Visva Bharati are two issues not really co terminus and should be dwelt upon separately. If the seed of amalgamation of the two schools has an iota of truth, we have to understand it from the Vice Chancellor’s point of view first and then make our own observations that too pragmatically; we have to give more strength to the elbows of the VC if we want him to realize our perspective. Sharmila Roypommot has summarily rejected the idea as nothing beyond a wild rumor and I trust her; therefore, the issue is dead for the moment.In the interest of bringing about improvements in the academic standards of the Varsity’s pupils the authorities are not unaware of able resources the country offers and the VC himself is definitely aware too. Leave him there to do his job. My interest is Santiniketan…why must an academician be put into the role of an administrator of justice, spatial lay out, conservancy, health management and what not…especially at a time when the area and population both have grown exponentially; can’t we think of pleading Delhi to create a post to be filled up by an IAS to manage things outside the academic jurisdiction? I think this is one crying need of the hour, what do you say, pals?
Going through the article for quite a few times it seems Upacharya, Professor Sushanta Dattgupta is actually trying to focus on consolidation within Visva Bharati. For example he has articulated about a need to consolidate the school section, a need to consolidate the Art wing – namely Kala Bhavana & Silpa Sadana, he has also emphasized the need to have a thriving Integrated Science wing in Visva Bharati. Theoretically speaking, without being Visva Bharati specific, these kind of consolidations are the mantra of present day management and administration. These kind of consolidations reduces multiple layers of authority levels and makes decision making faster, these kind of consolidations usually fosters more co-operation between similar disciplines, Integrated Science- that is consolidation of all Science units to make several kinds of expertise to be available for a scientific pursuit together is already a preferred line of thinking by the scientific community all over the world. More over the consolidation creates more synergy and is relatively less cumbersome for the administrators to run an institute. From this particular angle Prof Sushanta Dattgupta’s discourse is fairly fathomable. Personally I find nothing wrong with this approach, but again without being Visva Bharati specific.
To be Visva Bharati specific, such an exercise – if implemented, would effectively mean that the intellect of Visva Bharati will have to think in terms of synergy in cross disciplinary activities (Integrated Science is a good example of such kind of approach). This kind of a change would then actually depend on the adaptability of the faculty members to this new approach for its success or failure. Already a New Bhasa Bhavana has been created, we do not know if scholars in Persian languages there are able to interact with the scholars in Oriya language (say). Likewise we do not know if Graphic artists of Kala Bhavana will be able to interact with the Glass & Ceramics section of Silpa Sadana. So, I think the whole attitude expressed by Vice Chancellor, would have to deliberated at length between the faculty members first and foremost. If faculty members of Visva Bharati appreciate and welcome such kind of consolidation and can adapt to the new scenario, personally I find nothing to object. But if the faculty members feel uncomfortable, such kind of a change should not be pushed through as it may create more chaos, and the first to suffer will be the students.
Having said so, it can be a tremendously exciting prospect by citing similar examples if an Graphic Artist of Kala Bhavana can actually interact with the Glass and Ceramics section of Silpa Sadana to create new expressions or new techniques. Similarly an interaction between Persian and Oriya languages can lead to exciting opportunities to explore. Such an intellectual consolidation, is the demand of time now; however timing is a very important aspect for such kind of restructures, if the mindsets of faculty members and students are not ready to accept such changes, the new experiments can be severely strenuous.
In reality, Kala Bhavana and Silpa Sadana have already signed a MOU to have exchange programs between the two institutes. The idea is to amalgamate the better technical facilities of Silpa Sadana with better aesthetic orientation of Kala Bhavana. It seems, a lot has been contemplated within VBU for some kind of a restructuring for the school sections, the actual outcome of the exercise is not known right now. Perhaps a primary section upto class VII and a secondary section upto class XII will be curved out to be trained at the two school units at Santiniketan and Sriniketan. This has not been made explicit, but this can be assumed to be a natural outcome of the restructure, if it takes shape at all. Now, it is really a difficult issue to decide which unit (primary or secondary) stays where?
As far as the ex-students are concerned, I am sure such kind of restructures will ruffle quite a few emotional feathers, I am also sure that quite a few would appreciate this kind of consolidation ventures- specially ex-students who are exposed to administrative or managerial processes. The ex-students who appreciate intellectual synergy would probably appreciate, but the ex-students who believe in individuality and exclusiveness would not like this consolidation approaches terming it too simplistic. In short we can expect a mixed response to this particular issue of consolidation, with highly polarized attitudes. But, at the end of the day, it is good to find the Vice Chancellor to put his ideas, perhaps already deliberated ideas, on board; though personally, being fairly emotional about Santiniketan, I really do not know how to react- logic and emotion seems to be at loggerheads right now!. But ultimately I shall tread on the rational path, about which I just don’t want to think now as my thinking process has got quite confused right now.
As, a passing observation, the Human Resource Ministry of the last Government mooted strongly for ‘Innovative Universities’; at this juncture it might be interesting if Visva Bharati tries to avail any opportunity under the ‘Innovative Universities’ scheme; the time seems to be just ripe now.
Is there any such body in VB as noted below ? If not, there could be one to avoid unnecessary MOU between Bhavana-s; this is also coherent with VB 1951 Act…. Samyoga-Samiti Board of Co-ordination
(1) There shall be a Samyoga-Samiti ( Board of Co-Ordination to co-ordinate the teaching of the University, and in particular, to co- ordinate the work and time-tables of the various Colleges and to assign lecture rooms, laboratories and other rooms to the Colleges.
(2) The Samyoga-Samiti ( Board of Co-ordination ) shall consist of :
(a) The Upacharya ( Vice-Chancellor ) who shall be the Chairman thereof
(b) Adhyakshas ( Principals ) of Colleges and
(c) The Karma-Sachiva ( Registrar).
Linking Shilpa Sadan with Kala Bhavan is also a very practical idea as we should not forget that
• Shilpa sadan products are mass consumables and
• For generations it has contributed spreading the hallmark “Products Designed in Santiniketan” just by it’s sheer simplicity & aesthetics. I do not remember any household in Santiniketan without the Furnishing items decorating the living rooms which are manuctured/fabricated there (Remember the yellow Bedcover and Curtains with those black designed borders?). So let’s not underestimate it’s capabilities.
• There is always one stream of Art which has mass appeal and needs mass creation and distribution – which again spreads Santiniketan Brand all around. That’s where Kala Bhavan should logically get engaged or step in.
However I believe, Silpa Sadan desperately needs a technological makeover/new machineries as well as skill upgradation. This department clubbed with the guaidance/ideas/interaction with KalaBhavan has the potential to be a great asset for the University. I also reckon that some form of attachment with the Science faculty (Maybe the Comp Science dept.?) would make the integration more robust.
That reminds the role of the Comp Science department and its charter towards the infrastructure of the University. Any modern university nowadays requires a robust IT infrastructure not just towards mail and communication and management information system but more so to assist the academics. Every university and its teachers are moving towards making lecture notes and presentations online for the students to access, float questions and quizzes and post results of examination as well. Gone are the days when students used to run around to get some ” great notes” prepared by some of the esteemed teachers – technology acts as a great leveller here by making information available to everyone. Science departments need to show the way but I believe eventually all the departments need to get to this – there is no point of delaying or resisting the inevitable.
How technology can help Sangeet Bhavan? My humble suggestion is – Make things online. Over many many years, this Bhavan has been the crown jewel of Santiniketan, but possibly have not reached out to the world in an organized manner. Other than getting a glimpse of the performances shown in DD-Bangla or DD-National, how and where does one look for say a lecture demonstration on ‘Rabindra Nritya’ by our Gurus or say “Chandalika” enacted by our school children in the recent past ? Where can we find this year’s “Basantotsav” procession dance to share the joy with the rest of the world?
I would like to believe that majority, if not all these are already under discussion.
Going into the fine print of Vice Chancellors address few point crops up for deliberation:-
The BEd course at Binaya Bhavana:- VC puts forward a poser whether the BEd course is proper to train the teachers. WE would like to know the actual development there. As far as I know, the BEd course has to follow a certain pattern to make the students eligible for a Govt school teachers job in India. This Central Government order created a huge lot of confusion in West Bengal, as at the point of time when the order was made mandatory such up to the mark teacher training facilities were in short supply in West Bengal. I wonder if VBU is also required to satisfy such conditions? If so, then how much scope remains for VBU to modify the structure of BEd course?
Science, Integrated Science & Einstein Bhavana
Science was incorporated in Visva Bharati, a result of brain storming at the time of Tagore Centenary year in 1961, spearheaded by Acharya Jawharlala Nehru & Vice Chancellor Sudhi Ranjan Das. At that juncture Nehru thought Visva Bharati must integrate itself with building of the new India, and Science studies were integrated with Visva Bharati. Later, as Science is generally speaking an important subject of pursuit for natural reasons, the Science Departments became financially strongest components of Visva Bharati because of availability of funds through several Science & Technology promoting agencies of Govt of India over and above the patronage by UGC. From 1980s onward the Science departments started growing fast, and now an Integrated Science wing has also been created financed by the Central Government. Though, as far as Visva Bharati is concerned, we are more familiar with Patha Bhavana, Kala Bhavana and Sangit Bhavana; but it is essentially the Science departments which drives the reputation and growth of Visva Bharati in practical terms along with creating a very promising ex-students of Science departments. But, for historic reasons,loss of Tagore specific stress on education being the prime concern, we have found Vice Chancellors to be a bit lukewarm to the Science departments. I personally feel, a focused and continuing boost to Science Departments can make Visva Bharati a strong University, along with an attempt to Integrate the whole science courses along the ‘Integrated Science’ concept. It is a bit cumbersome when we find both the Integrated Science and the usual Science Courses running simultaneously.
On the otherhand, if we take note of other Universities in West Bengal -Jadavpur is an University chiefly driven by its technology and science courses; though the social science departments are good too. Calcutta University has a very strong science section, with a few useful technology courses. Kalyani University has recently incorporated quite a few technology courses. Presidency has excellent departments, including a very strong science departments, Xaviers has adopted many professional courses in their curriculum. Noth Bengal and Burdwan University has already started acting and thinking along these lines. So, what we find is that all other Universities are open and adaptable to newer opportunities available in science/technology/ professional courses. But Visva Bharati with a Tagore specific mindset (but an undefined one for sure!) are fairly adverse to appreciate and incorporate such ideas into the curriculum. At present time no University can flourish these without a due importance given to the chief driver of knowledge ‘Science’ and it is sad to note that while other Universities in Bengal are keen to avail such opportunities Visva Bharati is lagging behind. This attitude, if not corrected, will make VBU even slide further in ranking within Bengal.This is a practical issue, and it is expected to be dealt accordingly.
Long since we have heard about Einstein Bhavana, not exactly knowing its purpose. Once we thought it would be a centre of excellence in Science years back, now Einstein Bhavana perhaps is being conceived as a platform to ponder over science and philosophy. Apparently the idea seems to be interesting, but I really do not know exactly where Science and Philosophy converge. Philosophy should be an area to explore subjective interpretations of life perhaps in form of isms perhaps, and how Science would react to some sort of ism an is not too well understood a concept. Is it a probed subject of study elsewhere in the world? It will be a tough call to develop the subject in Santiniketan, though ideally an interesting area to tread on. Some new development in this area will be appreciated.
“The university cannot be an ivory tower, far away from the society, removed from the practical accomplishments of the Revolution. If such an attitude is maintained, the university will continue giving our society lawyers that we do not need.”
Guess for which university I am citing Che Guevara.
Yes it’s Visva Bharati. It is really sad that these so called luminaries cant even see beyond there tenure of Office. I am amazed with the wisdom he has provided all through the article. But at the end of the day what the institution is getting : Nothing.
On the other hand Foreign Trips to Officials with hefty DA and other allowances, sponsored tours along with regular salaries. Enjoying power with various annuities.
And last but not the least destroying the Tagore’s Philosophy in the name of Utilisation of Funds, resources. Each and Everyone is running for their personal upliftment & not for the institution.
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