THE MATTERS AT THE HELM: Visva Bharati is now at the stewardship of Acting Vice Chancellor Prof. Swapan Kumar Datta after the premature removal of the Permanent VC Prof Sushanta Dattagupta. CBI has started an enquiry into alleged irregularities conducted in Prof Dattagupta’s tenure, without any conclusion so far. Initially we heard about a comprehensive enquiry which would cover some top administrative officers as well. But it seems the whole issue has fizzled down to removal of Prof Dattagupta, a single point agenda, rather than a wide spread corruption issue. It appears that the Visva Bharati community is fairly well settled with the Acting Vice Chancellor, and nobody is too concerned about the CBI enquiry. In any case the pace of investigation appears to be very sluggish. Our experiences in such issues foretell us that the whole issue of Prof Dattagupta’s premature removal will have a silent natural death, with nothing really changing within Visva Bharati. The administration of Visva Bharati at this point of time however remains a bit log jammed on appointment and financial disbursement issues, with much restricted freedom of operation. There is no news on the appointment of a permanent Vice Chancellor though a search committee has been formed.
Visva Bharati however trudges on with quite a few remarkable developments here and there. As far as my information is concerned apart from routine disbursement of PhD degrees, there has been no new breakthrough in academic front.
MAMATA BANERJEE’S visit to Visva Bharati on Official Invitation: The Chief Minister of our state Ms Mamata Banerjee visited Visva Bharati on official invitation. Among many other customary frills attached to such a high profile visit, Ms Mamata Banerjee was gracious to allot land to Visva Bharati on spot to construct a circular roadway from Santiniketan to Sriniketan, the availability of which would restrict vehicular traffic around the main connecting road piercing the Madir, Uttarayana, Kala Bhavana area. Visva Bharati community welcomes such a graceful and prompt gesture from Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee. Madame Banerjee also formed a SIT (special investigating team) to probe Nobel theft; though after so many years of the theft we really do not know how effective SIT will be.
LANGUAGE LAB AT CHINESE DEPARTMENT: Visva Bharati got it’s first language laboratory functional at Chinese Department. A fund of Rs 36 Lakhs were allotted by the Government of Chinese Republic, where through audio visual facilities students can be directly instructed by Chinese language experts from mainland China. The facility was inaugurated by the Consul General of Chinese Embassy at Kolkata.
BRAILLE INITIATIVE at CENTRAL LIBRARY: The Central Library of Visva Bharati has now installed several facilities for visually impaired students, like advanced recording software systems and CCTV & mouse magnifiers, computers, instant scanning-reading-recording systems, talking type software, Braille browsers and Braille printers, mp3 files of many important journals, along with many books formatted in Braille. Central Library also has facilities to operate computers by feet, for students unable to use their hands.
MUSEUM on GITANJALI: An exclusive museum on Gitanjali was inaugurated by poet Shankha Ghosh along with Director Rabindra Bhavana Ms Tapati Mukhopadhyay at the Rabindra Bhavana complex. On that occassion interestingly Shankha Ghosh appealed to the authorities of Visva Bharati to create a theatre stage exclusively for staging Tagore dramas by theatre groups all over the world. The Gitanjali museum, along with the replica of Nobel medallion, displays the original manuscript of Gitanjali, pens and papers used by Tagore, and letters people, from all over the world, wrote to Rabindranath congratulating him for the honour. Several paintings by Abanindranath & Nandalal related to Gitanjali, and the documentary correspondences which led to the award of Nobel Prize to Rabindranath are also on display. Lot of small yet interesting facts of Gitanjali and Nobel Prize are also arranged for further enlightenment of the visitors. Former Rajya Sabha MP Barun Mukherjee of the Forward Block donated Rs 70 Lakh for this purpose. A digital screen displays the several translations of Gitanjali in various languages.
SPREAD of SANSKRIT LANGUAGE: It was interesting to note that a 10 day open seminar on spread of Sanskrit Language for common people ‘Samskrit Shambhabana Shibiram’ was jointly organized in Visva Bharati by Department of Computer Science and Systems, Siksha Bhavana and Samkrita Bharati, Kolkata. The seminar was open to all and desired to spread common spoken Sanskrit. As a natural corollary, I wonder, if we can expect development of Sanskrit Language software programing in Visva Bharati?
VISVA BHARATI and AKASHVANI: It appears Visva Bharati would very soon be allotted a one hour slot in national radio broadcasting facilitated by Akashvani. People from Kolkata Doordarshan, Star Network, Sound Engineers of Akashvani and elsewhere, Satyajit Roy film institute, Theatre personalities are involved in this project. We hope the project gets executed soon.
MEITEI JAGOI in SANTINIKETAN: Meitei Jagoi, an organization established by Guru Devjani Chaliha way back in 1971 to preserve and propagate Manipuri Classical Dance performed for the first time in Visva Bharati on 13 September 2016. Needless to say that the performances were gracefully divine with delicate artistic nuances interspersed. An academic collaboration with Meitei Jagoi will be highly appreciated by Visva Bharati community, past and present.
COLLABORATIVE EFFORT between REITAKU UNIVERSITY, JAPAN and VISVA BHARATI- Chikuro Hiroike, a Japanese educationist contemporary to Rabindranath Tagore, sought philosophical enlightenment though education and the spread of it. Just like Rabindranath, Hiroike also believed that education is the ultimate pilgrimage a human soul can undertake. Reitaku University, established by Hiroike, has many similarities in spirit and content with Tagore’s Visva Bharati. An exchange program has been initiated between Reitaku University and Visva Bharati in an international conference attended by eminent personalities from Reitaku University, JNU, University of Delhi, Visva Bharati and the consul general of Japan at Kolkata.
ACTIVITIES of RURAL EXTENSION CENTRE VISVA BHARATI: Rural Extension Centre Visva Bharati adopted 5 villages to transform them into Model Villages with financial help from Bengal Chamber of Commerce. The basic emphasis would be to modernize agricultural activities, health and education, and generation of economic activities. REC also actively co-operates in library facilities in 34 villages around Santiniketan Sriniketan basically by supplying books and periodic maintainance. A few chosen craftworks by village women were also exported to Thailand. The Bengal Chamber of Commerce on the other hand, apart from some financial aid, expressed interest in marketing suitable products generated in the adopted villages. This is naturally a heartwarming news, I would like to draw the attention of the ex-student community of Visva Bharati to such collaborative rural development initiatives undertaken by Visva Bharati.
THE POST SCRIPT: There were many other events like seminars, teacher and student exchange program of Kala Bhavana with countries like France, Thailand South Korea etc, similar exchange program with a school in Berlin, Germany with school section of Visva Bharati, seasonal programs, theaters et cetera; to write about all of them will be a herculean task. In short the University, even in a sluggish condition without a permanent Vice Chancellor, never the less has to move on. On an overall view, the University has managed to get involved in several important projects, with purpose and grace. In spite of all these, I would still like to observe that, generally speaking the desired ‘intellectual spark’ has not been too visible in the activities by faculty members and students in recent times. We expect Visva Bharati to be more agile, and eager to cross new frontiers.
Best Wishes from the Ex Student community of Visva Bharati, with an expectation that each department of Visva Bharati makes a desk operative where interested ex students can interact for collaborative purposes, both financially and intellectually.

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