Statesman News Service, KOLKATA, Jan. 24.
As the audience at Calcutta University’s foundation day celebrations was preparing to stand for a rousing rendition of the National Anthem, as listed in the agenda on their invitation cards, the crowd instead heard a less lofty sound: an announcement about lunch.
Calcutta University officials chose to end the programme right after the pro-vice-chancellor (academic) Prof. Suranjan Das read out the vote of thanks. As the VIPs, including the chief minister, the Governor and the university Chancellor, left the dais, announcements were made regarding food packets and lunch waiting at the syndicate room.
When asked why the anthem was scrapped from the event, Prof. Samir Bandhopadhyay said they had opted for the university song instead. Prof. Bandhopadhyay said: “We had decided that the National Anthem would be played on the day of the President’s visit and the university song, subho karmo pathe dhoro nirbhaya gaan — a song penned by Rabindranath Tagore — would be sung on the foundation day itself, that is today.”
Before this discordant faux pas, Govenor Mr Gopal Krishna Gandhi had enthralled the audience with a mellifluous Bengali rendition of the original lines of Tagore, which had been left out when the song was adopted as the National Anthem and adapted to Hindi.
Addressing the crowd, Mr Gopal Krishna Gandhi said that in days when cash-strapped universities are increasingly relying on project funding, research should not be only for the gratification of funding agencies.
Chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee added that research should not be confined to laboratories but should be used for economic development, in the spheres of agriculture, industry and human resources.
While former vice-chancellor, Prof. Santosh Bhattacharya, chose to stay out of the celebrations, another ex-VC Prof. RK Poddar, suggested that the CU authorities observe 24 March as foundation day, which would add yet another celebration to the university’s already festivity-heavy 150th anniversary year.
It was on this day in 1904, he said, that CU was granted the power of teaching and research through Indian Universities’ Act, giving it the status of a true university.