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Panel Decides Only Tagore’s Name to Grace Santiniketan Heritage Plaque

Visva-Bharati committee has finalized texts in English, Hindi, and Bengali; awaiting approval from the Centre.

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Kolkata, Nov 18 (The Street Press India) – A team of six members chosen by Visva-Bharati has suggested the words to be written on plaques celebrating Santiniketan’s UNESCO heritage status. They sent their idea to the university’s temporary vice chancellor, Sanjoy Kumar Mallik, on Saturday. The proposal states that only Rabindranath Tagore’s name, the founder of the institution, will be on the inscription.

The committee is refining the English, Hindi, and Bengali versions for the official plaques. Once approved by the university and the Centre, it’ll just be a matter of days before these new plaques, with only Tagore’s name, replace the controversial ones from the former VC Bidyut Chakraborty’s tenure, which excluded Tagore’s name but included Chakraborty’s and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s.

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Within nine days of Mallik taking charge from Chakraborty, the decisions were made in response to widespread criticism triggered by the controversial previous signage.

Tagore admirers globally expressed outrage, and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticized PM Modi, referring to the tablets as “an arrogant display of self-absorbed narcissism.” She issued a 24-hour deadline for their removal. When Chakraborty didn’t comply, Banerjee directed her party workers to hold protest demonstrations outside the university.

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Governor CV Ananda Bose also criticized the move, emphasizing that there should be no instance where Tagore’s memory is obliterated or ignored.

The committee made slight adjustments to the English text initially provided by the Union education ministry earlier this week, which served as the basis for subsequent translations into Bengali and Hindi. They completed the task over the weekend with two consecutive meetings after being formed on Thursday.

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According to the Centre, the new plaque will feature the four-lion state emblem of India at the top center, the UNESCO Heritage status logo on the left, and Visva-Bharati’s official logo on the right. Below, it should bear the inscription “WORLD HERITAGE SITE SANTINIKETAN,” followed by the first paragraph: “Santiniketan has been inscribed upon the World Heritage List of the convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. Inscription on this list confirms the universal value of a cultural or natural site which deserves protection for the benefit of all humanity.”

The next paragraph on the plaque, under the “Brief Description” of the site, should read: “Established in rural West Bengal in 1901 by the great Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Santiniketan was a cradle of learning and education firmly rooted in India’s classical traditions, aspiring to a concept of universal humanity.”

The Union ministry has recommended including two additional paragraphs on the plaque. One should highlight the significance of the establishment of Visva-Bharati in 1921 and its unique scholarship offerings. The other should emphasize Santiniketan, Tagore’s abode of peace, continuing to promote “intercultural dialogue and artistic expression.”

Nilanjan Bandyopadhyay, a committee member and special officer at Rabindra Bhavana, stated, “We have made some minor modifications in the Union ministry’s text which was based on the Archaeological Survey of India’s dossier for the Unesco forming the background to the heritage tag. The vernacular translations have been finalised and sent to the vice chancellor.”

Bandyopadhyay added, “The ministry was keen to have the text finalised without further delay and we should be replacing the previous tablets with the official plaques as soon as our drafts are approved.”

When asked about the number of plaques to replace the three removed tablets in Santiniketan, Bandyopadhyay stated, “That call would be taken by Visva-Bharati authorities. But, to my mind, we should have some 10 plaques placed all over Santiniketan since the area is well spread out.”

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Sk Sahiluddin
Sk Sahiluddin
Sk Sahiluddin is a seasoned journalist and media professional with a passion for delivering accurate and impactful news coverage to a global audience. As the Editor of The Street Press India, he plays a pivotal role in shaping the editorial direction and ensuring the highest journalistic standards are upheld.
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