Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Controversial Heritage Plaques in Visva Bharati Omit Tagore's Name, Features PM Modi and VC's Names

After being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, white stone plaques were put throughout Visva Bharati, declaring the same.

Bolpur: Renowned poet and writer Rabindranath Tagore founded a school called "Brahmacharyashram" in Santiniketan near Bolpur in West Bengal in December 1901, and subsequently, the Visva Bharati University began its voyage on December 23, 1921. 

The goal of this institution was to provide students with the chance to complete their mental growth via practical education rather than traditional schooling. But now Tagore has been sidelined his long-standing Visva Bharati. This 102-year-old conventional educational institution's founder's name has been erased. The event has upset everyone, from the local people of Santiniketan to the state's educated circles.

On September 17, UNESCO declared Santiniketan a World Heritage Site. Walking with the same tradition across the centenary of the educational philosophy created by Rabindranath Tagore at Santiniketan, architecture after architecture, and sculptures of Santiniketan Ashram have paved the way for this recognition.

The UNESCO website says in this context, "Established in rural West Bengal in 1901 by the renowned poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore, Santiniketan was a residential school and centre for art based on ancient Indian traditions and on a vision of the unity of humanity transcending religious and cultural boundaries."

According to the locals, this international recognition is not the consequence of any one individual or time of activity. However, the present Vice-Chancellor, Bidyut Chakraborty, seems eager to claim credit for the honour. While taking credit for himself, the present vice-chancellor has cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi's name several times. 

After being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, white stone plaques were put throughout Visva Bharati, declaring the same. The plaques also mentioned at the bottom are the names of Chancellor Narendra Modi and Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty. Rabindranath Tagore, the founder, is not mentioned anywhere on these plaques.

Hence, Tagore lovers regard the installation of these heritage markers or plaques as propaganda and hidden internal politics.

Ever since Santiniketan was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there have been complaints that the Vice Chancellor wants to take credit for this work, but he also wants to bring forward the role of the Prime Minister as the Chancellor. 

In this context, Visva Bharati has recently installed white stone plaques in front of the house of worship, Chatimatala, and Uttarayana of Rabindra Bhavan. It says, 'UNESCO World Heritage Site'. Just below that are the names of Narendra Modi and Bidyut Chakraborty.

From Shantiniketan's ashrams to ex-teachers, and a section of teachers of Visva-Bharati are angry over the omission of Tagore's name. Many people in Visva Bharati claim that such an incident has never happened in the past. As per the custom of Visva Bharati, no one's name is usually mentioned on any inauguration plaque or recognition plaque.

Supriyo Tagore, a member of the Tagore family and a veteran ascetic, laments, "The present vice-chancellor has become the godfather of Visva Bharati. There was someone called Rabindranath; perhaps today they have forgotten that. Such an incident has never happened here before." 

There is no word of condemnation about this." Supriyo Tagore further said.

Another ashram resident Anil Konar said, "In 70 years, I have never seen any plaque with the name of a vice chancellor here. This custom does not work here. He is breaking tradition after tradition in his own way."

Sudipta Bhattacharya, president of the Visva Bharati Teachers' Union, VBUFA, claimed that wherever the plaques were installed, they were owned by the Santiniketan Trust or the Works Department. So, the Vice-Chancellor has no legal right to install the plaque, he claimed.

He said, "I am taking legal advice on erasing Rabindranath and campaigning in his name. We will also ask the Prime Minister's Office to know the manner in which Acharya's name has been used and whether his consent has been obtained or not."

In a post on his official X handle, Trinamool MP Jawhar Sircar said, "UNESCO specifically said they are honouring Rabindranath Tagore and his unique legacy by declaring Santiniketan a World Heritage Site. — A megalomaniac VC and his boss seem to think UNESCO is honouring them!!"

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram