The stage is set for the historic 49th convocation of the Visva-Bharati University which will be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina tomorrow, varsity officials said.
Modi, who is the ‘acharya’ or chancellor of the central university, will inaugurate the ‘Bangladesh Bhavan’ – a “symbol of cultural ties between India and Bangladesh” – with Hasina and hold a bilateral meeting at Shantiniketan, they said.
Multi-layer security arrangements have been put into place in Santiniketan, which is situated in Bolpur sub-division of West Bengal’s Birbhum district, the police said.
This would be Modi’s maiden visit to the varsity after becoming the prime minister. The last time a chancellor was present at a convocation at Visva-Bharati, which was founded by Rabindra Nath Tagore, was in 2008 when Manmohan Singh was the prime minister.
This will the first convocation of the central university in five years, Sabujkali Sen, the officiating vice-chancellor of Visva-Bharati, said.
“We are very happy that so many dignitaries will be present at the convocation. Henceforth we will try to hold convocations every year like other central universities,” Sen told reporters.
Apart from Modi and Hasina, West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will also attend the convocation programme.
According to Sen, this will be for the first time in four decades that the chief minister of Bengal will be present at a convocation programme. The last chief minister to have attended a convocation was Siddhartha Shankar Ray.
“Mamata Banerjee will be the first chief minister to share the dais with the acharya and other dignitaries during the convocation program,” Sen said.
According to official sources, around 150 delegates from Bangladesh, including media persons, will arrive today for the convocation program and the inauguration of the ‘Bangladesh Bhawan’.
The prime ministers of the two neighbouring countries would hold a meeting after the end of the inauguration program at 1 pm, official sources said.
Hasina will arrive in Kolkata on the morning of May 25 and then leave for Santiniketan, about 160 km from the city, sources at the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission said.
The Bangladesh Bhavan at Santiniketan will house a library, a state-of-the-art archival centre and a seminar hall, besides a sprawling space for cultural get-togethers.
Apart from the literary works of Tagore, the centre will also showcase books and photographs on the Bangladesh Liberation War and India’s role in it.
After the meeting with Hasina, Modi will travel to Jharkhand where he will lay the foundation stone of various projects of central and state governments at an event in Sindri.
The projects include revival of Sindri Fertilizer Project of Hindustan Urvarak and Rasayan Ltd, Ranchi City Gas Distribution Project by GAIL, AIIMS, Deoghar, development of Deoghar airport and Patratu super thermal power project of 3 x 800 MW capacity, an official statement said in Delhi.
Modi will also witness the exchange of MoUs for ‘jan aushadhi kendras’ and later address the gathering.
In Ranchi, the prime minister will interact with the district collectors of ‘aspirational’ districts of Jharkhand.
Hasina will visit Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol in West Burdwan district where she will be conferred with an honorary D.Lit on May 26.
During her visit to the country, the Bangladesh premier is also likely to visit Jorasanko Thakur Bari, Tagore’s ancestral home in north Kolkata and Netaji Bhavan, the ancestral home of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, in south Kolkata, official sources said.
“India and Bangladesh share deep cultural ties. This bhawan will become a centre for excellence in terms of cultural exchanges between both the countries and will further strengthen the ties between both the countries,” Bangladesh Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor said.
Noor along with senior Bangladesh official thursday visited the Bangladesh Bhawan and took stock of the final arrangements.
A Visva-Bharati official said the central university would gift a replica of the first edition of Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’, which was published in 1912 in London, among other souvenirs to Modi.
Hasina would be gifted a set of ‘Rabindra Chitrabali’ — Tagore’s paintings in four volumes — along with other gifts.
Banerjee would be presented with a set of ‘Rabindra Chitrabali’ along with Tagore’s photographs and a bilingual edition of ‘Gitanjali’, the official added. PTI