21 October, 2020

Santiniketan Squeeze

Central government’s funds choke jolts Tagore’s Visva Bharati

Tagore holds an audience in Visva Bharati
Santiniketan Squeeze

Young students in canary/white uniforms sit in a circle under a leafy tree, attention rapt as their teacher tells them a story—the inexplicable tale of life and livelihood dissected in a class that hasn’t changed much in its form and substance in a century short of three years. Wish he could weave into the tale the trouble that has ret­urned to haunt their institution: Rab­indranath Tagore’s Visva Bharati at Santiniketan. It is hard-pressed for funds, nearly 78 years since Parliament passed a law that demands the Uni­on government take full financial responsi­bi­lity of the university.

It is not alone in its hardship. All 39 central universities across the country are facing similar funds crunch. The ministry of human res­ource development (HRD) and University Grants Commission are steadily ski­mping on research gra­nts and miscellaneous funds, and nudging the universities to adopt self-fin­ancing models. “Like they are trying to divest major public-sector units, they are bent on privatising central universities...



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