Tuesday, February 2, 2010

1st February Dr.Bikram Dasgupta condolences meet report

1st February 2010 witnessed condolence meeting in memory of late Dr. Bikram Dasgupta at Marathi Sahitya Seva Mandal Hall, Panjim. Around 40 people with varying degrees of associations with Dr.Dasgupta were present on the occasion.

Sebastian Rodrigues spoke about views of Dr.Dasgupta with regard to ancient Greek Philosophers that the State had suppressed philosophers like Epicurus and Democritus due to their subversive ideas and Aristotle was given privileged position. Dr. Dasgupta held that there is need to reclaim the ideas of the suppressed Greek philosophers.

Rodrigues also shared Dr.Dasgupta’s views on colonialism. Dr. Dasgupta held that British could rule Indian subcontinent for two and half centuries precisely because of weakness of Society in the sub-continent. These weaknesses continue to exist till date and if society does not overcome then it will be not long that it will be under colonial rule again. The major weakness has been disorganized nature of society that made it fall prey to Colonialism.

Rodrigues further shared about Dr. Dasgupta’s relationship with erstwhile Soviet Union in the decade of 1980s where in Soviet Union government had approached him to translate economic reports of post revolutionary Soviet Unoin highlighting indicators of prosperity into his native language Orriya. Dr. Dasgupta refused to do and instead suggested that he would be interested in translating revolutionary classic of Russian Revolution. Soviet government refused Dr. Dasgupta’s suggestion and that was an end of his very brief relations with Soviet Union.

Adv. Jatin Naik shared as to how Dr. Dasgupta contributed immensely to his studies particularly in Subaltern History, and Literature. It was Dr. Dasgupta who introduced Damodar Kosambi’s works to Naik. Dr. Dasgupta was not a member of any political party but shared left views. He remained fierce critic of left political parties for their exclusive focus on trade unionism and neglect of Party work. Jatin suggested formation of study circle and Dr. Dasgupta memorial lecture series beginning on February 05, 2010 with Public lecture “Spaces, Places, and Histories : A Political Ecological perspective” by Prof. Alberto Gomes, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia in Panjim.

Prof. A. Afonso said late Jyoti Basu as well Dr. Bikram Dasgupta both shared the ability to shock society. Dr. Dasguta has been greatest shock giver to the fossilized institution in Goa – Goa University. He was never a hero of Goa University. Prof Afonso paid homage to Dr. Dasguta for this deeds to shock the State and wreck the State. Prof. Afonso said that as a ‘Mull Goenkar’ he want the capacity to wreck the system. Dr. Dasgutpa possessed rare courage to donate his body for scientific research. He anticipated the efforts to co-opt Dr.Dasgutpa after his death by the prevailing decadent system. Co-opting the adversary will be the first step in this regard.

Prof. Sharma of Department of Hindi, Goa University shared about Dr. Dasgupta’s constant urge to do something against the establishment. Dr. Dasgupta was first one to support prostitutes in Baina beach when State Government carried on the demolitions of their houses in 2004. Dr. Dasgupta believed that academicians in the University must go out and understand and support the people such as prostitutes.

Dr. Dasgupta also had the intense concern on the occasion of Hiroshima Day mobilizations in Goa and in this connection had many discussions with Prof. Sharma. Prof. Sharma observed that Dr. Dasgupta was not a hypocrite though led a Bohemian lifestyle. Dr. Dasgupta always carried positive attitude towards doing something for Society.

Prof Sharma narrated that Dr.Dasguta had a command over large disciplines in sciences, social sciences, literature as well as paintings and never let himself to be restricted into the disciplinary prisons. He wanted to share this trend and that’s why he founded groups like NEST.

Prof Sharma asked as to what is the vision of proposed Study Circle.

Dr. Nandakumar Sawant observed that Dr. Dasgupta was untraditional. He said Dr. Dasgupta has been the inspiration to him to do annual Hiroshima Day program in his Chowgule College, Margao. Dr. Dasgupta however never participated in any of these programs. Dr. Dasgupta dissented in approach of organizing of Hiroshima Day at Chowgule College. Dr. Dasgupta wanted detail deliberative program rather than in capsule format followed at the college.

Prajal Sakhardande said that Dr. Dasgupta was fierce critic and possessed sharply analytical mind. He wanted others develop analytical mind too.

Dr. Iswar Singh Dost said that though Dr. Dasgupta died his ideas continue to exist.

Advocate Thalman Pereira said that Dr. Dasgupta carried with him rare ability of self-criticism. He said Dr.Dasgupta had ability to transmit his thought to people from all the age groups. He gave an example of his young school going son who after learning about the death of Dr.Dasgupta asked his dad if it was same Dr. Dasgupta who believed that people must never use August 2009 NEST pre-conference meet at Banda, Maharastra.

In the ensuing discussions Prof. A. Afonso stressed the need to wreck the system at Goa University. He said he has been part of Goa university planning process since 1973 when it was conceptualized as ‘Laboratory of Ideas’ where in people like Dr. Dasgupta would be the rule rather than exception. University was envisioned as place of leadership in intellectual freedom. Now the reality is the opposite. There is even a resolution that Executive Council’s deliberations should not be disclosed to anyone other than Executive Council! Goa university has become an instrument of beautification. Currently Goa university exists not because of generating ideas but because there are teachers and they cannot be done away with. Goa University’s structure is obsessed with bureaucracy. Goa Univeristy will not take humanity forward. It may take backward like what happened at recent incidents in Colva village.

Advocate Thalman Pereira said that Dr. Dasgupta immersed himself in reality and changed it by engaging with it. This example must be followed and engagements must be initiated to change the state of affairs at Goa University.

Sebastian Rodrigues explained as to how Dr. Dasgutpa advocated non-linear Sciences and had even started elective course in his Chemistry department. After couple of years he was forced to discontinue due to pressure from the department as his course had become very popular and attracting bright students. His Course on chaos and systems theory was rebel discipline within sciences dominated by Euclidian sciences. He gave series of lectures on this theme at International Centre ably supported by Rudra Prasad Pradhan but could not get any publications out on this theme.

Rodrigues explained as to how in order to prepare for the NEST annual conference in 2002 in Kalyanapuram in Tamilnadu Dr. Dasgupta conducted weekly night classes to teach and explore the theme of the year “Dynamics of Order and Disorder in Nature and Society: chaos, systems theory and chaocomplexology”. Teaching here helped Rodrigues to go to Chenai and establish network on people working in this field at IIT Chennai, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Maths Science Institute, various departments at Madras Christian College, and villagers at dalit village of Kalyanapuram in Thirumalai district of Tamil Nadu.

Dr. Dasgupta was very happy when Rodrigues gifted him a book after learning the theme for few years titled ‘Thousand years of non-linear history’. He was even happier to receive a post card from 5th standard student Sunil Chalvadi in 2003 on wanting to learn Chaos theory. Sunil was introduced to the non-linear sciences by Rodrigues during tution classes. Dr. Dasgupta read out his post card in his Chemistry class at Goa University!

Rodrigues said that Dr. Dasgupta continued untiring in his efforts because he had put method in place that will bring about the change. He was organizing number of programs of discussion and study in order to fuel 'critical mass' to trigger off change. Hence he was never bothered about low attendance to many of the NEST programs. For him quality of discussions and their regularity took priority over number of participants. This view was also expressed by Dr. Nandakumar Sawant citing his interactions with Dr. Dasgupta during 2006 Pune NEST annual conference that had low turn out of participants.

Prof Afonso suggested an exercise of articulation of ideas. He suggested each one must write one page or 500 words on what one believes in - "I believe". The will lead to clarify ideas embedded in deep self and get it to the fore of life. This will clarify oneself rather than opting for one minute silence. Each one before writing out once beliefs may maintain silence for as much time as needed. One minute silence after the death of person serves no purpose.

Sebastian Rodrigues

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