Picture by Arnab Mondal
Calcutta, Jan. 3: Scientist Bikash Sinha today dubbed Bengal a " byartho" state, using a term that means "failed" or "unsuccessful", and rued its academic culture where teachers are political dadas and students agitate "all the time".
He also appealed to the young to understand that " andolan (agitation)" alone would not take them far in a competitive world in the 21st century.
"There is no peace, there is no motivation, no tranquillity. It's a fact that West Bengal is a byartho rajya (failed/unsuccessful state)," Sinha said. " Ekhane sab samay khali andolan (It's agitation all the time here)."
The 2010 Padma Bhushan awardee was talking to reporters this morning on the sidelines of a diamond jubilee event at Shri Shikshayatan School.
Asked about the role of teachers in Bengal, the former director of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics said: "In Bengal, most teachers have been associated with political parties. They are all dadas (biggies) of political parties despite being associated with educational institutions."
Earlier, speaking at the event, he had regretted the academic mess in Bengal.
"I happen to be associated with Jadavpur University and Presidency University. I don't want to waste your time (speaking about) the huge disaster we are going through in these institutions," he said, before going on to mention student agitations.
"I sometimes wonder what they (the students) are talking about. What is ' cholbena, cholbena (won't do, won't do)'? Nothing is ' chaloing' anyway. What are they referring to?"
He added: "This is an important point for the youngsters to understand: in this 21st century, just andolan (agitation) will not take you far in a competitive world."
Contacted by The Telegraph later in the night, Sinha, 69, who was Homi Bhabha Chair Professor at the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Calcutta, till December 31, explained that his observations were a "reflection of what is happening in academic institutions" across Bengal.
"Imagine what's going on in the state's academic institutions these days, including colleges in my home district, Murshidabad," he said.
At least a dozen colleges in Murshidabad have witnessed clashes between the Trinamul student wing on the one hand and the CPM and Congress student arms on the other.
Sinha said there was "tension" among students at the Kandi Raj college, which his ancestors had founded. Sinha belongs to the Kandi royal family and is a cousin of late Congress leader Atish Sinha.
"Academic activities are being affected because of political movements by students. College-e-college-e dadagiri cholchhe (There's bullying in the colleges)," he said.
Asked if he was referring to the students' movement at Jadavpur University in demand of the vice-chancellor's resignation, Sinha said: "I won't comment on any particular event. There is turmoil in every academic institution across Bengal. I am worried because I too am an academic."
He added: "I returned to Calcutta in 1984 after a long stint outside West Bengal. But today, I'm making these comments out of frustration and pain."
Asked for his reactions, state education minister Partha Chatterjee said: "Bikashda has echoed what I've been saying all these days, that students' movements in educational institutions must be stopped. I always consult Bikashda since he is an advisory member of the syllabus committee of my department."
Chatterjee, though, didn't comment on Sinha's remark that Bengal was a " byartho rajya".