Kolkata: The West Bengal government has refused to pay heed to a UGC circular asking teachers and students to not miss out on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on September 11 to observe Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya's Centenary Celebrations and the 125th Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda's Address at Chicago World’s Parliament of Religions.
The UGC circular had asked around 40,000 higher education institutes across the country to make arrangement for the live telecast of the speech. The theme of the programme is “Young lndia, New lndia - A Resurgent Nation: from Sankalp to Sidhhi”.
But Bengal’s Education Minister, Partha Chatterjee, in a press conference at the state secretariat, said the state would not follow the order. “We are not accepting and following the UGC’s circular. I have already told all the universities and educational institutes.”
“We feel that this is an attempt of saffronisation of education. Every time they just cannot send such circulars without consulting with the state governments in advance,” he said.
The UGC in a letter on Thursday had requested all vice chancellors of universities and heads of higher educational institutions “to provide an opportunity and facility to the teachers and students to view PM Modi’s address.”
“The Prime Minister will address the Nation to remind one and all about the relevance and significance of Swami Vivekananda's teachings in the backdrop of today's social milieu. lt would be of particular importance for the youth of today to understand and absorb the content of Swami Vivekananda's messages to the World, in order to ensure their right educational, career and spiritual growth,” reads the circular issued by the UGC.
Institutes in Bengal said they have not received any such order so far. Jadavpur University (JU) vice-chancellor, Suranjan Das, said he has not received the letter. “I am not aware about any such circular issued by the UGC. I am hearing it from you for the first time,” Das told News18.
“Nowadays, UGC uploads circulars on its website. Let the letter come, then we will decide. Normally, in such cases we have to consult with the state government and then only we can take the final decision,” he added.
Vice-chancellor of Calcutta University (CU), Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee, too claimed that she is unaware of any such circular. “I have not received any such circular from the UGC so I cannot comment anything on this issue. Let it come then we will decide.”
Beside JU and CU, there higher educational institutes in Bengal are also unaware of any UGC circular seeking students be encouraged to participate in the event.
This is not the first time that the Bengal government has ignored a directive from the Centre. Last month, Mamata Banerjee had taken a strong exception to Centre’s prescribed format to celebrate Independence Day.
In April this year, she had also issued a circular to change names of all central government schemes, including Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which is now re-christened Mission Nirmal Bangla in the state.
A month later, Mamata came down heavily on a private girls' school in South Kolkata for playing PM Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ video in classrooms.