It’s another chai pe charcha that has suddenly become the talking point at Visva-Bharati. Vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakra-borty is hosting post-prayer tea parties every morning before academic hours, inviting faculty, non-teaching staff, students and others from the university to deliberate on issues that are otherwise not discussed in formal office settings.
This is in continuation with the order that morning prayers are now compulsory for everyone within the VB system. Holding informal lengthy discussions in front of the Kach Mandir has been a tradition religiously followed by everyone during Tagore’s time when prayers and post-prayer chats used to set the mood for the day. Tagore held open durbars every Wednesday after prayers, that was a favourite time for most ashramites. The new VC said he is following that tradition.
“When the setting is informal, people are prone to reacting better and a bonding develops. Finally, they open up and lead me to source of problems, that otherwise remain hidden and fester into bigger issues,” Chakraborty said. So after the prayers are over, the VC simply invites the attendees to hang on and have tea and biscuits and chat with him informally. Even touchy issues like attending the stipulated number of classes, signing the register on time, spending enough time on campus, holding examinations and publishing results on time are being discussed freely during these chats.
“Unfortunately, during my surprise checks on the campus, I was shocked with what I had seen in the initial days. I realised that I would not be able to weed out indiscipline by using coercive measures. I need co-operation from those who have been truants and appeal to them during informal meets…the post-prayer tea party is a step in that direction and I am happy to say that it is working,” Chakraborty said.
The VC added that he had noticed very few people attending the morning prayers. Since he found the tradition dwindling, he was forced to make it compulsory.
The assembly over prayers at Kaanch Mandir was a congregation of ashramites who would pray over songs (Brahmo sangeet), mantras and reading from the Upanishads. Thereafter, Tagore would sit with the VBU family to discuss various problems and look for solutions with the help of collective wisdom.
“The fact that we are getting employees sign attendance by 9:30am and send register books to the registrar’s office thereafter is nothing but a result of this collective wisdom,” Chakraborty said.
Source: Times of India