Sunday, February 25, 2018
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It was indeed a matter of great pride for Allahabad that President Pranab Mukherjee visited Allahabad once again on December 25. Rarely has it happened that a President has visited Allahabad twice within a year and a half of his entering the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Rajan Babu did come here several times but more as a freedom fighter than as the President. Same was true of Dr Radhakrishnan whom I had the great fortune of meeting when he visited Allahabad and stayed in Barnetts. But he was here to attend some VC’s conference during the glorious era of Allahabad University. I was then a school boy and can still recall his tall, upright , stately figure  walking gracefully from Barnetts annexe to the main auditorium for breakfast when he chanced to see me on the way, halt for a moment, and then proceed  giving a gentle pat. I also met Dr Zakir Hussain when he visited Allahabad as the Governor of Bihar. He was then staying in Government House(where now stands the Medical College). They couldn’t arrange for his meals. So Dr Hussain had come to Barnetts for dinner. He was sitting on a round table, ready to start his meals when I went up to him and wished him. He smiled and said, ‘Why don’t you join me for dinner?’ I thanked him and told him, ‘I would feel happy if I can serve you in any way’. He smiled. And thereafter he carried on with his meals. Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma visited Allahabad several times. He once told a former colleague of mine, Sri Prakashji,  that when he studied in Allahabad University he would make it a point to daily eat kachauri in colonelganj and have sweets at Netram’s. ‘There used to be a roadside tap at that Katra crossing. Is it still there?’ he had asked. I couldn’t spot it though.
Somehow I feel that President Pranab Mukherjee has a soft corner for Allahabad. It could be because it is the ancestral home of the Nehrus. It could be because  several people from Bengal have played a prominent role in  enriching  its literary, social, academic and cultural life. It was initially to an Allahabad publishing house (Indian Press) that Tagore gave his works for publication. He came here several times too and  was inspired by the environment here to give expression to his literary  genius
President Mukherjee  says that he is fond of reading and finds time to enjoy even short stories no matter how busy his schedule may be. That could be the reason why he agreed to come here and inaugurate the 86th session of the All India Bengali Literary Conference-Nikhil  Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan. But in his speech he pleaded for promoting the interests of all languages. In fact he asked people speaking various languages to unite and strengthen Indian culture. The President said, ‘We have to give equal importance to all languages’  that ‘we cannot afford to leave one at the cost of another’ and he believes that literature could strengthen national unity.
The President also inaugurated a new building of Jagat Taraan Girls Intermediate College and unveiled the statue of  Chintamani Ghosh, founder of Indian Press. President Mukherjee took the opportunity to highlight the need for accelerating the pace of education for women. He lamented that  their literary rate is around 16 per cent less than that of men. If he expressed concern over the quality of education and the sense of insecurity prevailing among the women of India he was indirectly indicting those responsible for it.

Reference to Tushar Babu

Both  President Pranab Mukherjee and Governor B.L.Joshi referred to Tushar Babu  among the  names of  legendary litterateurs like Rabindra Nath Tagore Kazi Nazrul Islam and several others.  It was indeed a moment of pride for us to find our founder editor Tushar Kanti Ghosh’s  name bracketed with eminent litterateurs. Perhaps many of you may not be knowing that in spite of a very busy schedule as a fiery editor during the British days, Tushra Babu was fond of books, had a good library and  also managed to find time to write short stories. Humour was one of his specialities which was visible both in his speeches and his writings. He would often share his humour through writings. In this connection three Bengali books written by him need to be mentioned-Bichitra Kahani, Aaro Bichitra Kahani and Chitra- Bichitra. They are all light-hearted anecdotal  books reflecting his strong sense of humour. But long, long ago, when Northern India Patrika used to be published from here as Amrit Bazar Patrika (1943-59)our Sunday magazine regularly carried the English translation of Tushar Babu’s short stories. I was then studying in school when our English teacher, Mr R.P.Verma(in GIC) would tell us: ’Boys, go through the short stories of Tushar Babu.  On Monday I will  ask you to tell me the essence of what he has narrated’. One boy got up and asked: ’Sir is this Tushar Kanti Ghosh the same person who is the editor of the newspaper?’ The teacher smiled in the affirmative.


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