Updated: Jan 25
This interview was published in 1984 in a Magazine that commemorated the first reunion of the JU IEE Department (see below).
The subject of the interview was Dr. Triguna Sen, the first Vice Chancellor of JU. He was visiting his daughter in Kolkata.
Before the interview I mentioned to Dr. Triguna Sen (in a rather unprofessional manner) how excited and emotional I was to get an opportunity where he allowed me to visit and have a conversation with him.
NM: How are you Sir? Where do you live now?
Dr. Sen: I was in the Rajya Sabha from 1967 to 1974. When I retired, I wrote to Anandamayima and requested shelter at her Ashram in Kankhal. Ma accommodated me in Room Number 2 also known as "Bhanjana" at her Ashram near Rishikesh. I will return there from my daughter's house here.
NM: Dr. Sen, when did India award you the Padma Bh.....
Dr. Sen: You are from Jadavpur University. I am sure you love your campus. Perhaps that is why you came to see me. You should probably ask me questions about Jadavpur University.
NM: How did you accommodate not only Arts and Science but also so many branches of Engineering in one campus?
Dr. Sen: I may have been the first Vice Chancellor of Jadavpur University but Departments such as Mechanical and Electrical existed since 1906, long before I was VC. Jadavpur University has its beginnings entwined with the swadeshi movement.
NM: What would you consider the highlight of your role as VC?
Dr. Sen: Establishing The Blue Earth Workshop laid one of the many landmarks around the campus.
The US Army had a Blue Earth Workshop in Kidderpore. They were returning home and shutting down the workshop. They contacted me and offered to install their lathe and other machines in our campus if we were interested. Of course, I was interested.
They trained our students in their workshop and provided stipends.
In the days before installation of the Blue Earth Workshop in our campus, we had to perform yeomen's tasks, not only to prepare to receive and place their machines but just to tear down walls to make approach paths for their huge lorries to maneuver and turn around.
On the day of the delivery. a General and some US Army soldiers came in trucks and meticulously installed the lathe and other machinery, and made sure each of them was functioning according to specifications. They also taught us how to maintain them.
It became obvious to me that the soldiers loved these machines, as I watched them wipe and clean them repeatedly.
I was embarrassed because I didn't even have the budget to feed the visiting General and his men at our campus. But I made sure they were all served tea. Some of them were perhaps having our version of tea, with the distinct aroma of burnt red earthen cups, for the first time. They appeared to be happy as we waved goodbye.
That is the beginning of the Blue Earth Workshop at Jadavpur University.
Dr. Sen and I discussed more sundry matters about our beloved campus, his involvement in the swadeshi movement, the doctorate he obtained in Berlin and his involvement in the mukti judho (freedom struggle) of Bangladesh.
He appeared happy to be remembered.
Note - During my time, JU Engineering students were in awe of and knew they were fortunate to have practical classes in the Blue Earth Workshop, creating metal objects using lathe machines. Very few campuses in India or abroad afford this opportunity.
JU - Jadavpur University
IEE - Instrumentation and Electronic Engineering