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Bangladesh Bhavan – A Cultural Bridge Between India and Bangladesh

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Bangladesh Bhavan

By Vivek Ratnakar, eGov Bureau

Bangladesh Bhavan at the campus of Visva Bharati University houses a centre for research on the Liberation War of Bangladesh apart from the history, culture and art of Bangladesh. The building, inaugurated jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, symbolises India’s deep ties with Bangladesh and combines tradition with modernity.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated ‘Bangladesh Bhavan’ on 25th May, 2018, at the campus of Visva Bharati University, founded by Rabindranath Tagore in 1921 at Bolpur in Santiniketan, West Bengal. A symbol of cultural ties between Bangladesh and India, the aim of the Bangladesh Bhavan is to strengthen Indo- Bangladesh ties in the field of language, culture, art, economy, history with emphasis on cultural exchange between the two countries. The centre serves as a platform for exchange of academicians, performers, students, and facilitates people to people exchange between the two countries with focus on research in inter-cultural exchange.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Modi said that India and Bangladesh are two nations, whose interests are linked to mutual cooperation and coordination among each other. He said that Visva Bharati University and the sacred land of Bengal have a history that has seen the freedom struggles of both India and Bangladesh. He added that the Bangladesh Bhavan is a symbol of the shared heritage of the two countries.

“Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman is respected equally in both India and Bangladesh. Similarly, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi are respected in Bangladesh as much as in India,” he added. In the same vein, he said that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore belongs to Bangladesh, as much as to India. He stressed that the shared resolve of India and Bangladesh, against cruelty and terrorism, will continue to inspire future generations through the Bangladesh Bhavan.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister said that Bangladesh never forgets India’s major role in extending support and cooperation during Bangladesh’s freedom struggle. The building with a museum, a library and an auditorium reflects India’s deep ties with Bangladesh and combines tradition with modernity. The Bhavan also houses a centre for research on the Liberation War of Bangladesh, apart from the history, culture and art of Bangladesh.

The museum has four elements — History of Bangladesh, Liberation War of Bangladesh with special focus on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Tagores and Bangladesh and modern Bangladesh. In the art gallery, there is a special permanent gallery on the Liberation War of Bangladesh and the role of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the creation of independent Bangladesh.

A special picture gallery on the theme “The Tagores and Bangladesh” includes the history of the interaction of the Tagore family with Bangladesh. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation of independent Bangladesh, shared Tagore’s liberal and humanist view of life. His choice of “Amar sonar Bangla, ami tomay valobashi [My golden Bengal, I love you]” as the national anthem of Bangladesh reflects his profound love and respect for Kabiguru Tagore. Bangabandhu was equally inspired by the great poet, popularly known as the “rebel poet” or “bidrohi kabi”, Kazi Nazrul Islam, who is also the national poet of Bangladesh.

Built by National Building Construction Corporation (India) Ltd, a Navratna Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Rs 24.22-crore project has come up in 11,112 sq. mt. land area adjacent to the Indira Gandhi Centre at Santiniketan. Bangladesh Bhavan is a barrier-free building with 453 capacity state-of-the-art auditorium equipped with the international standard audio system and two seminar halls each with a capacity of 175 persons separated by folding acoustic partition with video conference and video streaming facilities. Besides, there is a cafeteria to seat 108 persons, fire management system as per National Building Code, CCTV surveillance at strategic locations and passive infrastructure for Wi-Fi.

It has been built using green building compliant and eco-friendly materials like fly ash bricks, low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, LED (light emitting diode) luminaries, energy efficient VRF (variable refrigerant flow) air conditioning, rooftop solar installation, and rainwater recharge pits for groundwater recharge. The red and yellow two storey building has a glass roof so that the centrally airconditioned building can get direct sunlight from above. Scholarships are provided to under-graduate and post-graduate students from Bangladesh as part of the activities of Bangladesh Bhavan. Given the best of relations between the two countries, Bangladesh Bhavan is indeed most befitting that both countries are now trying to nurture the age-old connection of culture between them.

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