Rabindranath Tagore’s creation deserved better. The Vice-Chancellor of Visva-Bharati University might arguably have uttered certain home-truths on Friday, incidentally at a campus programme to observe International Mother Language Day, more accurately Mahan Ekushe, as 21st of February is referred to on either side of the Bengal- Bangladesh border. The point that the university is facing an “acute financial crisis” may be seemingly valid.
He has nonetheless kept the audience guessing with the averment that it is “ailing and running on life support”. It was an oblique swipe at the Union HRD and Finance ministries, one that has little or no connection with an occasion that is as solemn as Language Day. It was scarcely the occasion for Prof Bidyut Chakraborty to bare his angst against the Centre’s running of the institution.
The political scientist from Delhi University ought to be acutely aware that the responsibility devolves almost equally on the Vice-Chancellor, his team, the political class and also, of course, the students, as often as not restive when not violent. And then the supplementary in a moment of blistering candour ~ “On October 2, one cannot enter Rajghat as it is too crowded with all thieves wearing caps, queuing up there.
But they act in exactly the opposite way of Gandhiji’s ideals throughout the year”. In the net, the Vice-Chancellor has made the waters of Santiniketan murkier in the aftermath of the gherao of BJP’s erudite member of the Rajya Sabha, Swapan Dasgupta, and the retaliatory assault on a section of the students by activists of the BJP’s student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
Indeed, the campus has been the scene of bloody strife for the past few months, ever since the upheaval against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Population Register gained momentum in the rest of Bengal. On closer refection, there has been no well-grounded movement at Visva-Bharati against the Centre’s latest embroidery. Intrinsically, it has been reduced to a student versus student conflict, wholly bereft of cogent arguments. It is, therefore, a law and order issue that the Vice-Chancellor will be expected to countenance.
That fundamental responsibility cannot be camouflaged by drawing an analogy between the university and a life support system. The song and dance recital, that was integral to the International Language Day programme, shall not overshadow the canker that has permeated the system at Visva-Bharati.
The Vice-Chancellor might have hit the bull’s eye, but his presentation was decidedy inappropriate. Most particularly the contention that “Visva-Bharati has become a goose that lays the golden egg”. He is eminently in a position to stem the rot, and it will be worth the while. On 21st of February, Prof Chakraborty ought to have been riveted to the International Language Day. Sadly, the theme song, Amader Santiniketan, suffered a jarring note in conclusion.