Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee attended convocation ceremony at Shantiniketan’s Visva Bharati University today. Visva Bharati is the only university in the country that has the prime minister as it’s chancellor. About 10,000 post graduate and 1,000 PhD students of the university will receive their certificates. The trio also inaugurated Bangladesh Bhavan on the university campus premises.
The historic ceremony was marked with many firsts. It was probably for the first time that PM Modi, Mamata and the Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina took the dais. It was also the first time since 1970 that the chief minister of West Bengal had attended the convocation ceremony at Shantiniketan’s Visva Bharati University. It was also the first time that the CM took the dais. Politically too, the ceremony held significance as the West Bengal chief minister, one of Modi’s fiercest critics, received the prime minister on his arrival in Shantiniketan. This, just days after a massive show of strength by the Opposition at Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in ceremony.
The Prime Minister later addressed the students at the varsity and urged them to reach out to at least 100 villages and help them evolve. During his speech, the PM also invoked Rabindra Nath Tagore and the ‘Kabuliwala’ to drive home the connect between India and Bangladesh.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the event:
* “First of all, as the chancellor of Visva Bharati University, I seek your apologies. When I was coming here, some students were telling me with gestures that there is no arrangement of drinking water. I want to apologise for all the inconvenience caused to you,” the PM said, while trying to strike a chord with students.
* “Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina is present with us. India and Bangladesh are two separate nations, but interests of both countries are connected. Be it culture or public policy, we learn a lot from each other. One such example is Bangladesh Bhavan, Modi said.
* Addressing students of the university, the prime minister said he wants Visva Bharati to reach out to over 100 villages and help them evolve.
* Invoking Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore , the founder of the university, and hi short story Kabuliwalla, he said that Tagore was a global citizen, who wanted Shantiniketan to be a home for the world. “Tagore wanted students across the country to give priority to India’s identity,” the PM said in his address.
* This year’s convocation was historic as it brought Narendra Modi on the dais along with Mamata Banerjee and Sheikh Hasina. However, the convocation missed an important tradition as the PM did not award university’s highest accolade, ‘Desikottam’. Reportedly, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) did not clear the same citing the PM Narendra Modi’s tight schedule.