What ails Tagore’s abode of peace, Santiniketan?

Visva Bharathi University, Shantiniketan, Rabindranath Tagore
Beneath the veneer of soothing vista of mango grove, paths flanked by bakula and sal trees, chirping of birds and blooming of wide variants of flowers, the Visva Bharati University is gradually slipping into an abyss of decadence

Beneath the veneer of a soothing vista of mango groves, paths flanked by bakula and sal trees, chirping of birds and blooming of wide variants of flowers, the Visva Bharati University is gradually slipping into an abyss of decadence.

Conceived by Rabindranath Tagore as a centre for unconventional education in close communion with nature, the university is frequently hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons even as its position under the Ministry of Education's National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) has been steadily sliding for the past few years.

Earlier in mid-August, violent protests erupted in the heritage university campus at Santiniketan in Bolpur, some 180km north of Kolkata. The trigger for the latest controversy was the decision of the university authorities to construct a boundary wall in an adjoining open ground of the institution where a winter fair — Poush Mela — is held every year.

Only a month earlier the university’s executive council in an emergency meeting had decided to scrap the annual winter event started by the poet’s father Debendranath Tagore citing bitter experiences of the last two years to make the traders comply with National Green Tribunal (NGT) guidelines.

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