A year after the top job at the prestigious Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata went vacant,the culture ministry has finally found a candidate to steer one of Indias finest museums. Prof Jayanta Sengupta,a historian from the University of Notre Dame,Paris,will take over as secretary-cum-curator,highly placed sources said. His predecessor,Prof Chittaranjan Panda,had completed his term in January 2012.
Sengupta is an assistant professor of history at Notre Dame and has also served as a Fulbright lecturer at Utah State University. He has,however,spent a large part of his academic life in West Bengal. He will join his new position soon after wrapping up his current assignment. It is certainly a welcome trend to see academics and experts based overseas choosing to come and work here at Indian salaries, a senior culture ministry official said.
Only recently,the HRD ministry approved for the first time the appointment of a Harvard Law College academic,Prof Ashish Nanda,as director of IIM-Ahmedabad.
Heading the Victoria Memorial is an assignment of equal prestige.
Described as the largest repository in India for a visual history of Kolkata,Victoria Memorial boasts of major collections of paintings,manuscripts and sculptures from the British period,rare books dating to the 1870s such as a collection of plays by Shakespeare,Omar Khayyams Rubaiyat,manuscripts such as copies of Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazal,the court historian of Akbar; the note book of Tipu Sultan in his own hand writing; a volume of copies of Tipu Sultan s letters,among others.
Opened to the public in 1921,Victoria Memorial Hall was conceived by the then Viceroy of India,Lord Curzon,as a monumental memorial to Queen Victoria.