Bhavan’s President

Excerpts from the address of Bhavan’s President Surendralal G. Mehta on its Annual Council Meeting held on 18th December 2011:

“ The year ahead is going to be a momentous one for the Bhavan’s Family. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan will complete 74 year of its existence and enter the 75th year on November 7, 2012. The 125th birth anniversary of Kulapati Munshiji who was born in 1887 will fall on December 30 next year. We are planning a yearlong celebration of these two historic events. ..

Overcoming many a hurdles, Bhavan has strived hard to achieve its objectives. Considering the national recognition and appreciation that it has received, it appears that Bhavan has acquitted itself quite creditably. But we should not be satisfied with our achievements. Our struggle is a continuing process. Much has been done, but much more remains to be done. As the great Gujarati poet Karsandas Manek says: ‘Many a beautiful melodies you have sung. But many more remain unsung. Now, the crucial moment has burst upon you when you have to sing new enchanting tunes, you have never sung before.’

Let us grab the moment of the twin-celebrations of Bhavan’s Diamond Jubilee and 125th Birthday of its Founder to consolidate our existing institutions and activities and enter new creative arenas in our endeavours to enrich the cultural and spiritual life of our nation and the universe thus strengthening the ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the World is One Family which alone can spread the message of love and universal brotherhood ushering in an era of peace, unity and harmony…

As we enter the New Year, let us pause briefly and take a look at the path we have travelled on, observe how far we have come and then look at the road ahead.

The times have radically changed. The idealism and commitment to moral and ethical values have been transformed into sheer materialism, where a man’s worth is being judged by his capacity to earn money.

When Munshiji conceived the idea of Bhavan, he had with him the blessings of Mahatma Gandhi and support of the stalwarts like Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajaji and Rajendra Prasad. The institutions like the Media and leaders in various fields were ready and eager to appreciate and help a good cause. The noble idealism and spirit of sacrifice pervaded the very air we breathed. Today, indifference has replaced appreciation and nothing moves without money. We are regularly confronted with this attitude.

I give you only one example. Some time back a leading and even respected magazine’s Assistant Editor rang up Shri Dastur to say that after conducting a thorough scientific survey they have chosen Bhavan as one of the top ten leading N.G.Os of India. They would give two pages on the work and achievements of Bhavan and one page of Shri Dastrur’s interview. Then he added: Normally it would cost you six lakh rupees, but because Bhavan is one of the best institutions, we will charge you only Rs. 2 lakhs 50 thousand. Even an excellent cultural or educational programme capable of elevating human mind goes unnoticed unless of course you pay for it. And that Bhavan of course would never do. Consequently Bhavan is receiving less coverage on lectures, seminars and even the reviews of Music, Dance and other performing arts…

The next two years are crucial. The twin-celebration is a great opportunity for us to consolidate and move forward. As I said at the beginning we have to strengthen our existing institutions and seek newer pastures…

All this naturally requires dedicated persons and a lot of money. But as Gandhiji believed, if we have purity of purpose, dedication and integrity, commitment and spirit of sacrifice, the required resources will sooner or later arrive. Of course the vital ingredient is the grace of God without which nothing good and noble can happen. I appeal to all of you to do your very best to get Bhavan the required resources of devoted men and money… ”