Vice-Chancellor Sonali Chakraborty Banerjee of the Calcutta University told a press meet that the Senate, the highest decision-making body of the institute had unanimously cleared the proposal to confer honorary D Litt on the 2019 Nobel Prize winner in Economics at its annual convocation which will be held on January 28, 2020. The university will also confer Sir Asutosh Mookerjee Memorial Medal to eminent astrophysicist J V Narlikar on the occasion.
Scientists Samir K Brahmachari, Arup Kumar Raychaudhuri and Partha Pratim Majumder will be conferred with the Sir Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray Medal.
The Rabindranath Tagore Memorial Medal will be awarded posthumously to poet Aurobindo Guha, and writer-activist Manoranjan Byapari.
She said that the university decided the date of the senate meeting after intimating the Higher Education department 10-days back as per the new law passed in West Bengal Assembly earlier this month.
To a question whether West Bengal Governor and University Chancellor Jagdeep Dhankhar will be invited to preside over the convocation, which is usually attended by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, she neither confirmed nor denied. She ambiguously replied that everything will be decided according to the university statute.
As per schedule Calcutta University convocation ceremony started at Nazrul Manch on Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020, and Dhankar was also an invitee in his capacity as Chancellor. Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee was also at the program. Governor signed the D.Litt. (honoris causa) in the presence of Abhijeet Bannerjee, VC and others.
However, the convocation ceremony turned into a ruckus as the students staged a protest inside Nazrul Manch against CAA and surrounded Dhankhar outside the venue, raising slogans, “Governor goes back’. Consequently, the convocation could not start in time as the students started protesting both inside and outside Nazrul Manch.
Vice-Chancellor Sonali Chakrabarty requested the students to calm down in a bid to start the convocation proceedings however her appeal fell on deaf ears. Chakrabarty said, “I really apologize for the unfortunate flow of events.” Incidentally, no responsible person, either from the higher education department or police commissionrate was present at the venue to pacify the agitating students.
The protests kept him cooped up in a room for 30 minutes and forced him to leave without getting anywhere near the stage. It’s a matter of grief for the academia of the country that in 163 years of tradition this was for the first time that a duly invited University Chancellor was forced out of venue by a passel of unruly students.
Later on, Dhankar tweeted: “The uppermost thought in mind while leaving Calcutta University without attending the convocation is to ensure there is no compromise of the immense respect we have for Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee on whom we are conferring honorary D. Litt. (Honoris causa).”
“I have signed the D.Litt. (honoris causa) in the presence of Abhijeet Bannerjee, VC and others. A man of sterling qualities and disarming grace. Greatly touched by his and depth.” Dhankhar wrote.
It is noteworthy that on earlier occasion also the West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar faced the wrath of academics. On Tuesday, Dec 24, 2019, Dhankar was forced to leave Jadavpur University without presiding over its convocation by members of the TMC backed University Staff association.