Visva Bharati University Vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty Monday said commenting on contemporary social issues in the institute’s famed Upasana Griha (prayer hall) does not contradict Rabindranath Tagore’s philosophy of speaking out against social injustice and he cannot help if his comments are construed to be political by some people.
Chakraborty was speaking at the annual congregation held on the occasion of the Bard’s death anniversary. ”To strike at the evils of society, I may say things which are not palatable to everyone …Those who do not like comments on contemporary social issues are unaware of the present situation. I am a student of social science and know politics has two meanings – one is politics directly related to parties and the role of power and the other is being conscious about the contemporary events,” the vice-chancellor said. Gurudev, he said, stood against divisiveness among Hindus and Muslims, against ostracising the socially backward and lower castes and against untouchability.
”Sitting in the mandir (prayer hall) Tagore used to flag, discuss and solve the problems of his times, which can also be termed as political but are actually a commentary on the contemporary issues … To strike at the evils of the society, I too may say things which are not palatable to everyone,” he said.
Chakraborty said that he often faced the charge that he indulges in politics in the university founded by Tagore. ”But if I desist from discussing today’s problems, it will be an injustice to Gurudev’s beliefs. He stood against any form of injustice against common man”.
The oft-repeated word ‘Rabindrik’ (Tagorean) is not synonymous with merely singing a song penned and composed by the bard. It also connotes following his vision by seeking to view it through the prism of contemporary times, the vice-chancellor said.
Apparently referring to the public outrage after the discovery of huge stacks of currency notes at the residences of an associate of arrested former Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee in the city, the educationist said, ”See the situation in today’s West Bengal. A protest is gaining momentum after circulation of video footage showing huge currency, which could be public money. A protest is gaining momentum against injustice.” Students of Sangeet Bhavan presented Tagore’s songs before and after the VC’s speech at the solemn ceremony held in the prayer hall. Chakraborty had earlier courted controversy by saying that a section of the faculty and local traders are using Visva Bharati to serve their own interests, which has led to the decline of the hallowed institution. He was in the past charged with accusing a section of the faculty of leaking key information about internal meetings and provoking students to go against him. The Visva Bharati University Faculty Association and SFI had then accused the VC of vindictiveness against those opposed to him by suspending them and charge sheeting them.