Friday, January 1, 2010

Save Visva-Bharati

The bizarre idea of visiting shantiniketan (“the adobe of peace” at bolepur created by gurudev Rabindranath Tagore)at the onset of the year 2010 cropped into my mind when I was made to believe (by someone) about the sorcery of the first day of the year, that says whatever you do on the first day, it’s effects persists for the rest of the year. And I thought what’s better than to enjoy peace for the rest of the year especially when number of bandhs escalating exponentially in Bengal, red and green’s tussle intimidating bengalees at every hour of the day, people, all over, bent upon starving on their sweet will to procure a statehood for themselves, when Obama is all set to increase expedition more into Afghanistan without caring the least for its civilians and at the last when climate summit has failed and climate itself is haunting us with its dreadful nightmares.

Stepping into the red soil of bolepur, all the miseries of the city life was crowded out by the deluge of Rabindra sangeet that barged into my mind at once. Such is the mystic force of Rabindra spirit that has shrouded the entire arena of art, crafts and innovation. I had, by then, already started filling up of my cardiac bag by the plentiful of available air required for life sustenance back there in home. Well, as this is not a travelogue, I better move into the original part. I grew quite confident about the serenity of the place just to topple over the most unexpected stone of corruptions and malpractices.

“Niharika” the art gallery hosted by the profound artist Prof. Selim Munshi presented some of the most enchanting, stunning and awe-inspiring works of him. I was privileged to know a lot many things from the man himself. Swept by emotion he exuded some of the bitter facts of his life and hinted about the decadence of Visva-Bharti (shantiniketan university) with the most mournful weeping heart. I was startled to know the adobe of peace and purity had already turned into the adobe of rouge and malpractices (since 1966) and glaring instances like money laundering, forgery in assessing marks of students, nepotism in appointment procedure and unlawful extension after superannuation etc. are eating up the institution from within leading to the sullying of its heritage and golden image. He pointed to some of his spot-painting of some of the most beautiful landscapes and residence of dignitaries only to tell us that those sites are not present now, either demolished or morphed. Being an ardent devotee of Rabindranath Tagore and a respectable, responsible ‘adhyapak’ (Professor) in fine arts in visva-bharti he took the plunge into the muck several times to uproot the core of malice. In 1987 he tried to draw the attention of the then Acharya of Visva-Bharti, the union minister of human resource, and all members of the executive committee of Visva-Bharti… he went against the workings and appointments of some of the highly corrupt high-officials, incurring a heavy toll on himself in terms of health, time and money , but to no avail.

He writes, “It is an irony of fate that a few of them are still holding the position of MP and it makes me laugh when I read their speeches in newspapers that they want to free society from scams”. I could easily sense the pain climbing up my spine,my entire identity becoming too numb to react in absolute helplessness when his trembling voice spoke the last few words of his bereavement. The man of his stature, {who has earned recognition and appraisal from some eminent personalities like Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Lal Bahadur Shastry, Jawaharlal Nehru and others, who has made himself a place in many magazines, books and newspapers, whose work has been documented quite a number of times on television, radio etc, who has held 12 times solo exhibitions (even at parliament house annexe in 1996)} after serving for 39 years has been victimized by high level corruption multiple times. His promotion was detained. Even his son was not sparred. but still his zeal to work for the betterment of his serving ground is yet to die down. I realised how much the decadence of this institution must have tortured the man who has been seeing this place for about 58 years, how disastrous this must have been for the old man dreaming about a lustrous shantiniketan and waking up to the reality of its gradual decay. Like a true ‘ashramik’ he is there, facing all odds at his age of 72 but still awaiting a blatant response from the people and government, an impartial CBI probe and the resurgence of Shantiniketan in all the colours and glory, it has inherited from its hoary past.

(Don't let this 1st january to be all the same for this man and for Shantiniketan)


Shahid Mukadam said...

well if justice cant be served to the spirit of Rabndra nath tagore embodied by Prof Selim, then it cant be served..
Good that you brought up this topic...the thing is we dont tend to value our things....lets hope things change

Tathagata Ghosh said...

hi Shahid Mukadam,thanks for your concern. i believe more like us might shed more light on this particular issue.

BK Chowla said...

All I can say is that it was very thoughtful of you to have gone to Shantiniketan.

Tathagata Ghosh said...

hello Mr. Chowla,
It was quite a fortunate day for me to have met with Mr. Selim.

thanx for commenting.hope to see you soon.

Satyasri Ukil said...

Hello Tathagata...real good to read your blog...! I was also deeply impressed to see Prof. Selim Munshi's image on your page with his very valuable and direct opinions. About forty years ago I was a student of Selim Munshi...our "Selim'da" Patha-Bhavan, Santiniketa. I still remember him as a forthright man, who was/is never afraid to speak plain truth.

What Selim'da tells about Visva-Bharati is entirely TRUE. If someone cares to visit the archives of the Statesman, Kolkata, or any other newspaper, one knows for sure that all these years Visva-Bharati remained in news for the wrong reasons, mostly. There have been cases of countless unsolved thefts [the jewel in the crown being Tagore's Nobel medallion], cheatings, forgery, goondaism and what not...! In retrospect one is forced to wonder why the hell our government squanders such crores and crores of tax-payer's money apparently to keep up a sham "legacy" where they have raped the ideals of Rabindranath Tagore decades ago...?!

Tathagata Ghosh said...

@Satyasri Ukil: thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and being so hearty here. I never knew corruption of such magnitude was going on at shantiniketan.truly,the picture depicted in the news papaer was much less severe and miles away from the truth, i found.
I would like to hear more from you...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.