In this unprecedented medical crisis, every activity which forms the cycle of our daily life has been disrupted. Many people are trying their best to inject optimism in our ecosystem. Education and learning process is the soul of humanity. The crisis may have dented the progress of education but cannot shake its foundation and the spirit of learning. The young and talented Faculty under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Dipankar Sir and Dr. Anjana Madam took the initiative of online platform / virtual classes in the early phases of Lockdown. I heard that in a short span of time, this initiative has become a popular and effective tool of communication between the Faculty and Students of Ramanuj Gupta Degree College.
As an extension of online / digital platform, Dr. Dipankar Sir has envisaged to an e–Journal. The urge to impart education in this difficult time is indeed a story to remember. The student community once again proved that they are real COVID Heroes while they tackled the situation with dignified maturity. Our students will always continue to inspire and through them the spirit of learning shall continue.
Finally, I acknowledge the pivotal role of the Editor of this e-journal, Smt. Sreshtha Kar, a vibrant faculty of English Department who has brilliantly compiled and edited all the write-ups and articles for this publication.
Rudra Narayan Gupta
President, Governing Body,
Ramanuj Gupta Degree College
As the principal of Ramanuj Gupta Degree College, it is a matter of great pride for me that I am surrounded by a group of potential teachers, staff and students depending on whom any kind of project can be easily materialized.
I am also very fortunate that, our Director Sir , Dr. Dipankar Kar, with his zeal and energy is always proactive to motivate and guide us. The very idea of publishing an e-journal is his brainchild. He came up with this idea to encourage and engage the teachers and the students in some creative works during the first phase of Lockdown period. When he expressed his desire to me and asked me to take the responsibility of the upcoming e-journal as the Technical Editor, I could not say ‘No’. When I found that he had given the task of Editorship of the journal to Smt. Srestha Kar, a potential young faculty of English Department, I became more inspired. It was also ensured to me that a group of co-ordinators, among the teachers and the students would support the editorial board.
Honestly Speaking, I really enjoyed the job, i.e. generating the e-journal website and in designing it. The constant moral support from our GB President Rudra Narayan Gupta is always inspiring.
I would like to put on record the strenuous job performed by Smt. Srestha Kar, editor, who almost singlehandedly did the work of compiling, formatting and editing the contributions of the contributors in different languages.
In fact, it is just a humble beginning. If this maiden issue of RGDC receives acclamation from its readers, I as the principal of RGDC will feel that our effort has not gone in vain.
We do believe , “Creativity is always inventing, experimenting and growing.”
With Warm Wishes,
Dr. Anjana Bhattacharjee
A couple of years ago, while on a leisurely reading spree, I stumbled upon this very terse yet meaningful quote: “The spoken flies, the written stays”. An almost literal translation of the Latin proverb verba volent, scripta manent, this reflection on the power and intrinsic value of the written word has had an enduring and ubiquitous influence in the realm of literature. The written bears witness to the chronicles of time, it functions as incontrovertible testimony to the existence of events past and affords us a way to preserve knowledge, information, ideas and memories. While Socrates maintained that the written word is the enemy of memory, Salman Rushdie in his 2019 Booker short-listed novel Quichotte ponders the lobotomization of culture in a fast-paced digital world where memory has become an ephemeral “caricature of the instant”, a series of vanishing photographs with no sense of narrative or history. It is a debate we can take up in less tumultuous times but for the time being, I would like to move forward with Rushdie’s thought to emphasize upon the imperishable nature of the story, or the written word to be precise, as an unprecedented crisis has brought human civilization to the brink of effacement.The ravages of the coronavirus disease upon the humankind has probably given some verisimilitude to the dystopic imaginations of Stephen King or Ray Bradbury and as fiction comes close to the reality of the world today, one cannot stress enough on the import and value of not only just the written narrative, but also the visual. Creativity functions as a talisman in times of adversity and there are numerous examples in history to vouch for this claim. The first work of literature that comes to my mind, that channels the zeitgeist of an uncertain world amidst a pandemic is T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, published in 1922, as the Spanish Flu ended and the Great Depression began. The first half of the 20th century bore witness to two world wars, a pandemic and an economic crisis and it is in the backdrop of such turmoil that W.B Yeats composed the poem “The Second Coming” which speaks of an unknown and inconspicuous threat to mankind- “a rough beast” that “slouches towards Bethlehem to be born”. Yeats’ mystical vision of the universe and his belief that the world was on the threshold of an apocalyptic revelation does not seem transcendental anymore as the “blood-dimmed tide is loosed” upon the world. If we retrace our steps back to the 14th century to the time of the bubonic plague or the Black Death in Europe, we come across some of the finest works of literature- Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Boccaccio’s Decameron and Langland’s Pier’s Plowman- works that form the canon of literature today. The pestilence stricken years of 16th and 17th century saw the likes of William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, the stalwart playwrights producing some of their best works amidst frequent stringent quarantine measures. Daniel Defoe, as a five year old boy documented his experience of the plague year in London in A Journal of the Plague Year but the most enduring legacy of the London Plague has to be Sir Isaac Newton’s contributions to the realm of science that changed the trajectory of physics and mathematics forever. Liberated from the curriculum constraints of the University of Cambridge, Newton’s year of “social distancing” was his annus mirabilis or “year of wonders” as he discovered differential and integral calculus, delved into optics and formulated the theory of gravitation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major disruption in our otherwise insouciant attitude towards life and has forced us to reflect and introspect on the ramifications of the vicissitudes of life in times of crisis. Conversations with friends, family and acquaintances during this isolation period has almost invariably elicited frustrated remonstrations and complaints about lockdown measures and the lack of volition thereof.But the one person that I am constantly reminded of as we try to tuck ourselves away amidst a growing sense of public disquiet and trepidation, is none other than Anne Frank whose life in confinement in the Secret Annexe was way worse than ours for we are at least privy to the comfort of our own homes and the sublimity of nature, the pink supermoon and the kalboisakhi. In times of a global cataclysm, we need to learn our lessons of resilience and readjustment from Frank’s words: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”. Yes, we need not even move out of our own homes to do so. Small acts of kindness, small changes to our lifestyle, cheerful conversations with loved ones, a positive outlook and an alert conscience are all we need to be equipped with as we strive towards a healthy and disease free world. Our enforced state of solitude may well give us the vibes of an existence inside an Edward Hopper painting but as we look out of our windows into an eerily empty townscape and feel despair and despondency creep in, it would be a good time to remind ourselves of Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch post-impressionist painter, who painted The Starry Night in the confines of a mental asylum.The Krakatoa volcano exploded a couple of days ago which is largely believed to be one of the inspirations behind the pink sky in the background of Edvard Munch’s famed painting The Scream. The painting itself is symbolic of the anxiety of the human condition, much relatable to our times. My point here is that creativity can strike at any moment; the onus is upon us to harness and channelize it in the best way possible.
CO-Creation, the brainchild of our Director, Dr. Dipankar Kar has been conceived as a means to direct and guide the creative energies of the students as well as the teachers of Ramanuj Gupta Degree College in such chaotic times, it is an attempt to document their thoughts, emotions, ideas and knowledge into narratives for when the storm is over and the world calmer, it is these narratives that shall probably reinforce the memory of the times, fill the gaps, remind a forgotten story behind a sentence,a photograph or a painting. Memories need words, they need a story and here I would again resort to the master storyteller Rushdie who considers stories and the world of creative imagination as the “fire of life.” The written and the documented can alone withstand the “siege of battering days” and this journal is RGDC’s baby stepstowards recording the memoirs of an institution and its people so as to create a permanent legacy of its own.
It gives me immense pleasure to announce that this trailblazing effort by the college administration has produced overwhelming results as a large number of students and almost all the teachers as well as the non-teaching staff have enthusiastically contributed to the journal. The journal has been divided into three broad categories- Sense and Sensibility, which comprises spontaneous ideas, intuitive opinions and creative stories from students and critical insights on topics of literature, economics, science and commerce from the teachers. The second category entitled Wings of Poesy consists of poems that take origins from “emotions recollected” in a state of tense tranquility. The third section is Art and Aesthetics which presents vignettes of the visual imagination of our students and teachers. The contents of the journal cover fair ground and provide us a perception of the diversity of thoughts and the vividness of expressions of our teachers and students. I am extremely thankful to Principal Ma’am, Dr. Anjana Bhattacharjee for meticulously managing the technical aspects of the journal and for creating such a beautiful interface. My heartfelt regards to the President of the Governing Body of the college, Mr. Rudra Narayan Gupta for his unstinted support and encouragement towards this novel venture. Lastly and most importantly, my warmest gratitude goes to all the contributors without whom the journal would not have been as enriching as it has turned out to be. As the editor, I feel blessed to have been part of such a rewarding experience.
The world continues to battle the invisible enemy and the end is not yet in sight. We do not know when we shall go back to what we call “normality” or maybe the definition of “normal” shall be altered forever. “The night is long and full of terrors” but at the end there is always light and there is always hope to see us through. I would like to sign off with the words of the Bard of Avon, whose relevance has been further enhanced in these times, with claims going “viral” that Shakespeare had written King Learwhile in isolation during the epidemic years of the 17th century. The authenticity of this claim maybe put to question but it is undeniable that no one could have put this crisis of 2020 in better words:
“The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.”