Bolpur: Drinking water crisis hit more than 20,000 students and guests attending the convocation of Visva-Bharati University on Friday.
Water pouches distributed were scant and several people fainted even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also chancellor of the university, started his speech. The heat beneath the tarpaulin erected for the students added to the woes and most of the students and parents left the venue just as the dignitaries including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi flew down after waiting of few hours. The degrees had to be collected from the respective departments.
“We have never seen such mismanagement in Visva-Bharati. Firstly, they did not allow us to carry water bottles and then they couldn’t arrange for enough water pouches,” said Raktim Bose, a graduate of 2014.
More than 12,000 students graduated from 2013 to 2017 batches and their parents attended the event at 40 degrees temperature. Even announcements were required to tell the university staffers to leave the seats meant for the guests.
Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Modi sought an apology for the water crisis before beginning his speech. “Some students signalled me about lack of drinking water as I was entering the venue. As chancellor of the university, I apologise for the water crisis,” he said.
“I am no guest to this Santiniketan and I feel energised here imagining that it is here that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore spent so many years of his life and penned down several of his iconic poems, stories and novels,” the Prime Minister added.
Calling the bard as a ‘true global citizen’, Prime Minister Modi said that Santiniketan symbolises the Indian motto of ‘Vasudheva Kutumbakam’ or the world is one family.
“Gurudev wanted to make this place a ‘nest of the entire world’. It is a rare occasion that Prime Ministers of two nations attended the convocation of a university. This is also a legacy of Gurudev who is beyond national borders,” he added.
Tracing Tagore’s attachment with Prime Minister’s native state Gujarat, he said: “Gurudev’s elder brother
Satyendranath Tagore, who was the first Indian civil servant, was posted in Ahmedabad for quite some time and this was where Gurudev learnt basics of English.”
The Prime Minister also elaborated about the government schemes on the occasion and stressed on the need for participation of the masses for development. “If you walk one step, the government is ready to walk four steps,” he said.