Saturday, Sep 23, 2023 22:00 [IST]

Last Update: Saturday, Sep 23, 2023 16:26 [IST]


Mrinal Chatterjee

Window Seat
On September 15 last, Doordarshan (fondly called DD) turned 64. It made a slow, almost hesitant beginning in 1959. It turned into a regular service in 1965 when DD began beaming signals to homes in and around the national capital. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India inaugurated the first broadcast.
 By 1972, the services were extended to Mumbai and Amritsar. Within the next three years, seven more cities were included in the services. By the end-eighties, it became one of the largest broadcasting organisations in the world in terms of studio and transmitter infrastructure.
From 1959 to1976, DD service was part of the All India Radio (AIR). On April 1, 1976, it became a separate department in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and later it was brought under the control of Prasar Bharati.
A new signature image was designed by the National Institute of Design and a signature tune was created by Pandit Ravi Shankar. The first telecast in colour took place on Independence day in 1982.
Eighties and nineties were the golden period for DD. Ramayana, Mahabharat, Hum Log, Buniyad, Malgudi Days and many other serials enthralled the audience. National and international events were covered. Regional language broadcasts began. DD went abreast with technological changes. There were expansions. At present, Doordarshan has 35 satellite channels and 66 studio centres across the country.
But the monopoly of DD was over from the nineties as private television channels made entry, competition for eyeballs began and gradually became more fierce and intense. There was a gradual decline of viewership with an exception during Covid lockdown, when DD hit record viewership. DD still has considerable viewership. In fact DD Free Dish, the only Free-to-Air Direct-To-Home service across the country reaches to about 45 million households as per the FICCI and E & Y.
The good old DD has the expertise and reach to enthral ‘desh ki janta’. It just needs more zest.
Santiniketan (literally meaning the abode of peace),  famed as the place where Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore established the Visva-Bharati University over a century ago has recently been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a momentous occasion for India in general and Shantiniketan in particular. It emphasises the profound cultural and educational significance of this place. Santiniketan represents a fusion of various pan-Asian modernist ideas. It skillfully blends elements of antiquity, medieval traditions, and folk culture from the entire region with a unique scientific temper and Indian aesthetics.
This recognition not only honours the visionary contributions of the founder of Visva-Bharati, Rabindranath Tagore, but also acknowledges the enduring legacy of his ideas in the realms of art, culture, and education.
Shantiniketan was a dream of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore that was later on nurtured Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.
Santiniketan has a long history. This place was earlier called Bhubandanga (after Bhuban Mohan Sinha, the Zamindar of Raipur in present day West Bengal), and was owned by the Sinha family. In 1862, Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, while on a visit to Raipur, showed interest in land near Birbhum. There was only one building there, namely “Santiniketan” (which is still there adjacent to the Upasana Mandir). Debendranath Tagore bought the land and called the place Santiniketan, after the name of the existing house. He developed Santiniketan as a spiritual centre, where people from all religions were invited to join for meditation and prayers. He founded an ashram here in 1863 and became the initiator of the Brahmo Samaj.
Rabindranath Tagore wanted to initiate a unique form of inclusive education. In 1921 he established in Santiniketan a residential school and centre for art based on ancient Indian traditions and a vision of the unity of humanity transcending religious and cultural boundaries.  Twenty years later on on 23 December 1921 he established Visva Bharti, a ‘world university’, recognizing the unity of humanity.
Distinct from the prevailing British colonial architectural orientations of the early 20th century and of European modernism, Santiniketan represented approaches toward a pan-Asian modernity, drawing on ancient, medieval and folk traditions from across the region. It gradually attracted talented teachers and students from across the world. After independence it became a central university.
Santiniketan’s World Heritage Site status will foreground the philosophy of inclusiveness.
It was sad. The double decker buses, which have been the integral part of Mumbai city transport since 1937, had the last service in mid-September 2023. BEST authorities decided to phase out the buses as part of ‘modernisation’ and operational cost. Mumbai had around 900 such diesel-run double-decker buses plying in the city at its prime. Later the number of these buses reduced due to various reasons, including high operating cost. BEST stopped inducting fresh double-deckers in 2008.
The double decker buses have disappeared from Kolkata roads too. In Kolkata, the Double Decker buses were first introduced in 1920 and over time occupied pride of place. However, they were discontinued in 2005.
It was an experience to see the Kolkata or Mumbai road scape from the second floor window of the bus. Gone are those days.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi