Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday took part in the centenary celebrations of Visva-Bharati University through video conferencing and urged university officials and its students to help local artists sell their handicraft products online to the global market.
During his address, Modi — who is also the Chancellor of this central university — said that this year the famed Poush Mela (winter fair) could not be held due to Covid 19 pandemic. Coming to the aid of local artists who every year set up stalls in the Poush Mela to sell their products, the Prime Minister said, “This year the Poush Mela could not be held due to Covid 19 pandemic. This is the third time in its history that Poush Mela could not be held. As the nation is giving importance to the use of local products, I would urge university officials and its students to come to the aid of local artists in the promotion of their handicrafts. Connect with the local artists and teach them the method to sell their products online. This will ensure our local products reach the global market.”
A key attraction of Santiniketan, Poush Mela (winter fair) is held on the campus every December where people of Birbhum and neighbouring districts set up stalls of handicraft products during the fair. First held in 1894, Poush Mela draws people from across the world.
In July this year, breaking the 125-year tradition, the Executive Council (EC) of the university decided to scrap Poush Mela altogether with Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty claiming that the university was “ill-equipped” to handle such an event. Later the university said it was not against holding the fair and announced that it will not be held this year due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
The Prime Minister further said that Visva-Bharati had contributed to the freedom movement of the country. “It had given strength to the country during our freedom movement. It played a big role in building a new India,” said Modi.
The Prime Minister also talked about Tagore’s connection with Gujarat and how he had established a culture of exchange amongst the people of the country and urged the people to preserve this culture of exchange.
Founded by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1921, Visva-Bharati is the oldest central university in the country. In May 1951, Visva Bharati was declared to be a Central University and an institution of national importance by an act of Parliament.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on this occasion called for the preservation of the vision and philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore.
“Visva Bharati University turns 100. This temple of learning was Rabindranath Tagore’s greatest experiment on creating the ideal human being. We must preserve the vision and philosophy of this great visionary,” she said in a tweet.
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