The North Bengal University here has teamed up with the Indian army to set up a new research centre to help the defence forces.
On Monday, varsity authorities held a meeting with officers of Trishakti Corps, the army headquarters in Sukna on the outskirts of Siliguri, which looks after the north Bengal region and Sikkim that sits on the India-China border, for a “collaborative approach” for the research centre.
“The new facility will be named the North Bengal University Research Centre on Diplomacy and War and will take up research works across different fields in association with the defence forces. The research work and analysis of information will help the army. Furthermore, it would also take up the task to apprise defence personnel aboutthis region which is astrategic area in terms of national security,” said a source at the varsity.
The Siliguri corridor, also known as the chicken’s neck, is the slimmest area of the Indian subcontinent. Here, the width of the country is around 24km, perched between Nepal in the north and Bangladesh in the south, and China and Bhutan nearby.
“This area connects to the entire northeast India and sensitive areas like Doklam and Arunachal Pradesh.... A research centre at the oldest varsity of this region (the NBU was set up in 1962), with a focus on various aspects of the region like demography, political history, geography, flora and fauna can surely help the defence forces with a better understanding of this region,” said a retired army officer.
For the new centre, the varsity has deputed Soumitra Dey, a professor of political science department, as the founder and director of the Centre.Three other faculty members from the Centre for Himalayan Studies, history and political science have been included in the team, said sources.
“It will be a collaborative approach. The varsity will use its resource persons and experts to disseminate more comprehensive information about this region, ranging from the local economy to local cultural practices. The research will be vital, considering the geo-political scenario of north Bengal and Sikkim and international relations with neighbouring countries,” said a senior NBU faculty member.
In recent times, the Indian army has started various activities to hone the skills of its personnel, keeping in mind China’s aggressive overtures.
Last May, the army signed an MoU with Sikkim University for a six-week Tibetology cadre course for an insight into the history, religion, language, culture, politics, demography and geography of Tibet and China. This April, an MoU was signed between Tezpur University of Assam and the army to teach Mandarin to the defence personnel.