“Santiniketan has to look outside and collaborate with good institutions and scholars from all over the world to regain its former glory,” Vice-chancellor (Upacharya) of Visva-Bharati University, Kolkata, Sushanta Dattagupta said.
He was in the city on Saturday as part of centenary celebrations of Asia’s first Nobel Prize given to poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Prof Dattagupta is a doctorate in Physics from Brookhaven National Laboratory, Saint John’s University, New York. He was the Director of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Kolkata, and is an Honorary Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore.
He spoke to ‘Express’ about Santiniketan’s Bangalore connection and efforts of collaboration with centres of knowledge.
Does Santiniketan have a Bangalore connection?
Actually, many students and faculty in institutions like Indian Institute of Science (IISc), National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and JNCASR (here) are from Visva-Bharati.
Tagore had come to Mysore University in 1919 with the architect of Santiniketan Suren Kar. Students from the university had raised `500 for Santiniketan. This was in fact, the first donation, Santiniketan received from outside. He visited Bangalore in 1928 and completed his famous ‘Shesher Kabita’ while staying in the Balabrooie Guest House on June 25, 1928 as the guest of the Mysore University. He again visited Mysore later on and on his way to Sri Lanka, where he enacted his dance dramas ‘Shap Mochan, Chandalika’.
Visva-Bharati was a centre of academic excellence once. Over the years, it has lost the tag. What do you think are the reasons for the perceived decline?
Tagore excelled at collaborating. When he started an agricultural programme at a village called Surul (now Sriniketan) in 1922, he invited Leonard Knight Elmhirst, a noted agronomist to Visva-Bharati. We are trying to renew efforts of collaborating with centres of knowledge to enrich Visva-Bharati. We have a large number of students from Thailand, Sri Lanka and other countries. Lack of attention to infrastructure in labs and buildings has been another reason for the decline.