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PM's Tight Schedule Means No 'Desikottam' Award at Visva-Bharati Convocation, Mamata Unhappy

The Visva Bharati academic council had recently cleared the names of actor Amitabh Bachchan, painter Jogen Chowdhury, lyricist Gulzar, author Amitav Ghosh, writer Suniti Kumar Pathak, singer Dwijen Mukherjee and scientist Ashok Sen for the honour.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:May 25, 2018, 12:11 PM IST
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PM's Tight Schedule Means No 'Desikottam' Award at Visva-Bharati Convocation, Mamata Unhappy
PM Modi in West Bengal.

Kolkata: Friday’s convocation ceremony at the Visva-Bharati University was a historic occasion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina sharing the dais.

But the 49th convocation of the central university, which was founded by Rabindranath Tagore, missed out on an important tradition as the PM did not award ‘Desikottam’, the university’s highest accolade. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) did not give clearance for the same citing the PM’s tight schedule.

The Visva Bharati academic council had recently cleared the names of actor Amitabh Bachchan, painter Jogen Chowdhury, lyricist Gulzar, author Amitav Ghosh, writer Suniti Kumar Pathak, singer Dwijen Mukherjee and scientist Ashok Sen for the honour.

“The names were sent to the HRD ministry and the PMO, but we have not received any communication. Therefore, this year ‘Desikottam’ will not be awarded by our PM,” a senior university official said.

Sabujkali Sen, officiating vice-chancellor of the university, said there were previous instances when the award had been conferred to international dignitaries not at the annual convocation, but during special convocation programmes organised by the university.

"For the time being, the award ceremony is being deferred due to paucity of time. In the 60s too, the award was not conferred due to paucity of time. It was later conferred to eminent personalities," Sen said.

The West Bengal chief minister, however, expressed "unhappiness" over the decision. “It’s sad that names of seven eminent people do not figure in the Desikottam list…. I do not want to go into the reasons why they are not getting the award,” she said.

According to Sabujkali Sen, this was the first time in four decades that the chief minister of Bengal was present at a convocation programme. The last chief minister to have attended a convocation was Siddhartha Shankar Ray.

“I did not know that no other CM had shared dais with the Chancellor at Viswa Bharati convocation. I was invited by the university and it’s an honour for me to witness this historic event,” Mamata said.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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