The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cry for separate museum monitor

Santiniketan, March 26: The theft at the Rabindranath Memorial Museum has revived demands for a separate body to look after the museum’s administration.

The demand, which was first raised in the late 1960s, has again been voiced by Visva-Bharati teachers, students and officials.

A large section of former teachers and officials, including the former maintenance superintendent at Rabindra Bhavan, feels the security lapse stems from the over-centralised administrative system that has brought the museum under the university’s purview.

Rabindranath Tagore’s son, Rathindranath, made the first move to start an archive of the Nobel laureate’s personal belongings at the Udayan building in the Uttarayan complex in 1942. The archive was shifted to the present Bichitra building in 1961 and became the Rabindranath Memorial Museum. Ever since, it has been under the administrative control of the university vice-chancellor.

“The museum is getting neglected in the process of this centralised administrative system. There is no special attention on the museum,” said Bhabatosh Dutta, a former Bengali teacher at the university.

As the growing number of students made greater demands on the administration, a demand arose in the late 1960s for a separate body to look after the museum. “We should have listened to those who were voicing the demand for a separate body to look after the museum,” a retired university official added.

“Since 1997, the fire alarm is not operating. The burglar alarm, too, has been non-functional,” said Debi Prasanna Chattopadhyay, the former maintenance superintendent at Rabindra Bhavan. “No one has the time to think about its importance. It is not possible for the vice-chancellor to look after all the affairs alone,” he added.

But vice-chancellor Sujit Basu said setting up a new administration would take a while. “The Visva Bharati Act does not provide such options (for setting up a separate body). It would need a parliamentary amendment to form such a body. However, we are trying to fill up the vacant posts and are planning measures to enhance security of the museum, keeping it under the purview of the university.”

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