81st Foundation Day


28th December 2022

Dear Friends,

On the first of December, we celebrated our 81st Foundation Day.  The weather was lovely and the day was bright.

Why the 81st?  Earlier, we took 1959 as the year of Founding.  Now, we take this year to be 1942.  The Vice Chancellor of Somaiya Vidyavihar University, Dr. Pillai has always maintained that the date of founding of any institution is not the 'legal' date of its incorporation, but the date of the first activity in this domain.

The first initiative in education undertaken by our Founder, Padmabhushan Shri K. J. Somaiya was starting a school in 1942 in rural Maharashtra, in Sakarwadi (Kopargaon Taluka). I agreed with the logic of our VC, and therefore, this was our 81st Founder's day.

This is earlier than when India gained independence from the British.  It was in a spirit of nation building, and we continue our journey on that path to build a stronger nation.

We invited Shri Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the Director General of the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya - Mumbai to address us.  His talk was very interesting, inspiring and provocative.  He made many observations, provided insights and gave directions for the future.

He complimented Somaiya Vidyavihar for our efforts to invest in the humanities, arts and culture.  He quoted Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore 'Education means enabling the mind to find out that ultimate truth which emancipates us from the  bondage of dust, and gives us wealth, not things but inner light, not of power but of love, it is a process of enlightenment, it is divine wealth, it helps in realisation of truth '  'Teaching must be one with culture, spiritual, intellectual, aesthetic, economic and social.  True education is to realise at every step how our training and knowledge have an organic connection with our surroundings.'

He said that our Founder has created a little Shantiniketan in suburban Mumbai.  This was the best compliment I would hope to receive.

He spoke strongly and passionately about the adverse impacts of technology, globalisation and power politics on cultural heritage.  He said that as the world gets more globalised and homogenous and the notion of identity gets more complicated, there is a great need for places and people of diverse cultures to have places where they can see themselves and their roots, history, memories and future.  And that education institutions and museums are probably the only places for people to explore their past and to reinvent their identity in a rapidly changing world.

He spoke much more and I encourage you to see the video and my response that appears almost to respond to his concerns.

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