Updated: May 25, 2018 4:24:19 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina attended the convocation ceremony of Viswa Bharati University in Birbhum of West Bengal on Friday. Addressing the ceremony, Modi said India and Bangladesh are two separate countries which are bonded by cooperation and understanding.
“India and Bangladesh are two separate countries bonded by cooperation and understanding. Be it road, railways, international waterways or coastal shipping, we are rapidly moving forward in the area of connectivity,” Modi said.
“When approaching the dais I was thinking that this is the land of Rabindranath Tagore. Here, somewhere, he had penned his words, composed tunes, held discourses with Mahatma Gandhi or mentored one of his students,” Modi added. “Last year, we started an air-conditioned train service between Kolkata and Khulna in Bangladesh which was named ‘Bandhan’. India is continuously providing electricity to Bangladesh. Presently it is 600 MW which is expected to be increased to 1100MW. Like we have inaugurated the Bangladesh Bhavan in West Bengal, we have also taken the responsibility to renovate the residence of Ravindra Nath Tagore “Kuthibaari” in Kushtiya district of Bangladesh,” Modi said while addressing the ceremony.
The PM also exhorted the university authorities to develop the rural areas in the state with help from the central government. “I am told that you are developing 50 villages. You can take a pledge that by 2021 when Visva Bharati will complete 100 years, to develop 50 more villages with electricity supply, gas connection, and online transaction facilities,” he said.
“125 crore people have resolved to create New India by 2022. This dream can be achieved through education and for that, institutes such as Viswa Bharati have a vital role to play. The graduates from the university will contribute to India’s development, give it a new direction,” Modi said.
PM Hasina, who is on a two-day visit to West Bengal, is expected to further cement the enduring cultural links between the two countries. While she attended the convocation of the Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan today, she will attend the ceremony in Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol on Saturday.
Speaking at the ceremony Hasina said, “Rabindranath Tagore belongs to both the countries because he has written the national anthems of both the nations. He wrote most of his poems in Bangladesh and that is why we can claim a greater right over him.”
The two universities are named after, and greatly inspired by, the life and works of the celebrated poets, Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. While Nobel Laureate Tagore is the composer of the national anthem of both countries, a unique instance in the world, Nazrul, the rebel poet, is the national poet of Bangladesh.
The university also witnessed some unruly scenes during the day as youths protested against the paucity of water at the venue. The youths alleged that some students fell sick as there were inadequate arrangements for water and other facilities at the venue.
While the Prime Minister is the chancellor of the University, this was the first time that a West Bengal chief minister attended the varsity’s convocation since Siddhartha Shankar Ray in the 1970s. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh had attended the convocation ceremony in 2008.
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