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At Visva, brush up on Tagore

- Workshops and seminars for new students who lack knowledge on poet
Tagore expert Uday Narayan Singh speaks at the Visva-Bharati workshop on Sunday. Picture by Snehamoy Chakraborty

Santiniketan, Feb. 10: Visva-Bharati has decided to hold seminars and workshops on Tagore for students, employees and teachers who are new at the varsity.

Officials said at least three such seminars and workshops would be held every year. Today, a two-day workshop started at Lipika auditorium, where 200 students and teachers were present.

“We have found that most students, employees and teachers who have come here from other organisations lack knowledge on Tagore’s works and culture. Some of the students are studying post-graduate courses. The culture we follow here should be instilled in every student and teacher of Visva-Bharati. So, a decision like this was taken,” said Tapati Mukherjee, the director of Rabindra Bhavana, the repository of Tagore’s memorabilia.

Sources said the workshops would include lectures on the culture of Santiniketan, Tagore’s life and works, and different festivals the varsity conducts such as Pous Mela, Magh Mela and Briksharopan.

“The students and teachers attending the workshops will visit old houses, libraries, museums and take a look at sculptures in Santiniketan. The students will have to read Tagore’s biography,” a senior varsity official involved with the programme said.

According to officials, the decision to introduce the newcomers to Tagore’s works was taken by vice-chancellor Sushanta Duttagupta after he was reportedly informed that the new students “had no idea even about the sculptures and bhavanas at the varsity”.

“A post-graduate student once asked me what the Uttarayan complex was. He had no idea about the houses in which Tagore lived on the Visva-Bharati campus. A number of students are like that. That’s why such workshops are necessary,” a teacher of the science department said.

Today’s workshop was inaugurated by the vice-chancellor. Experts on Tagore such as Uday Narayan Singh and Kathleen M. ’Connell spoke at the event.

“We who are involved with Visva-Bharati should be well-versed with Tagore and Santiniketan. I think this workshop will help them,” the vice-chancellor said.

A section of the varsity officials said such a programme should have started earlier. “Internationally, our university is known as Tagore’s university. Just imagine, if any student or employee is asked about the poet and he fails to answer, how embarrassing would that be,” Mukherjee said.

All departments of Visva-Bharati have been informed about the programme and have been asked to prepare lists of those who should attend the workshops.

The varsity has a mandatory course on Tagore for undergraduate students called Rabindra Charcha. There is no such course for post-graduate students and research scholars.