BENGAL POLITICS: Your Excellency, what’s cool for you need not be so for Generation Next at 38 degrees and too few fans – an unnecessary insult ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Burdwan, June 11: On a day packed galleries greeted the World Cup in South Africa, Bengal governor M.K. Narayanan was left a little hot under the collar when he saw seats emptying before his speech at Burdwan University.
The students weren’t leaving the closing ceremony of the university’s golden jubilee celebrations to catch the soccer action — the Cup inauguration was still several hours away. It was just that the varsity auditorium was stiflingly hot and there were too few fans. (See box)
As vice-chancellor Subroto Pal, speaking before Narayanan, held forth on the university’s growth for half an hour, the attendance dwindled rapidly from a capacity 1,500 to just over 1,000.
The governor, who is also the ex-officio chancellor, took the microphone at 12.20pm, shortly after Pal’s speech.
After a few general comments, he opened up. “I am unhappy to have noticed a few minutes ago, when the vice-chancellor was speaking, that many young students were leaving the hall without listening to what he had to say. This should not have happened. It is not proper, especially on such a special occasion….”
It wasn’t clear if the governor realised why the students were leaving. The dais was far more comfortable, with six fans and two ACs serving the seven dignitaries. The large audience, sweltering in 38 degrees, had to make do with 14 ceiling fans and 10 pedestal fans.
Other than Narayanan and Pal, on the dais were former vice-chancellor Amit Mallik, registrar Saroshi Mohan Dawn, dean of arts Arup Chatterjee, science dean Padmanabha Chakraborty and historian K.M. Panikkar, who had come all the way from Kerala, Narayanan’s home state.
“I am not a historian. But Prof Panikkar, who is sitting with us, is an eminent one,” Narayanan said.
“The students should not have left while he was here. This is unfortunate. I hope that in future such a thing does not happen,” he added in a sombre voice, his face grim.
Narayanan spoke for a little over 20 minutes. “The aim of education is to create responsible citizens, and this university has a big role in this,” he said.
The event, scheduled for an 11am start, had begun 10 minutes late after the governor arrived by road from Calcutta. After the inaugural song, introductions and presentation of mementoes, vice-chancellor Pal rose to speak at 11.40.
By then, one could hear movement in the back rows as some 450 students got up and shuffled out in small groups. The audience was made up by undergraduate and postgraduate students, alumni, professors and other university staff.
Asked why they had left, several students pointed at the heat and humidity. “There weren’t enough fans. Would it have cost much to install a few more?” one of them asked.
Vice-chancellor Pal said the incident had “hurt not just the chancellor but all of us”. He said the engineering department had told him more fans would have meant more noise, making it difficult for the speeches to be heard.
But he declined to blame the students entirely. “The real problem is not about the students or the number of fans, but about today’s society. What can I say….”