SHILLONG, Nov 6: The multifaceted life of academic-turned politician Bidhu Bhushan Dutta who passed away on September 27 last, was celebrated at a public function here on Saturday.
Speaker after speaker paid handsome tributes to the ex-MP recalling his sterling contributions towards integrating the North-east and the south-east Asia.
Tributes poured in from every corner of the country through the virtual mode. They included West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, former Nagaland CM SC Jamir, former Manipur CM, Radha Binod Koijam among others.
Creation of the Sri Aurobindo Institute of Indian Culture (SAIIC) with its multifarious facilities and the Asian Confluence at Laitumkhrah which has provided space for think tanks from across the country and the world are institutions that stand as a reminder to the contributions he made as a rare-breed politician.
Paying glowing tributes to Dutta, Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma said, “Dr Dutta was my father’s teacher and later a political mentor who spent hours discussing issues related to the development of the state and region. I was young and would listen to gems of wisdom from these two stalwarts – PA Sangma and BB Dutta and they were always intellectually engaged about how to improve the standing and prospects of the North Eastern states,” Conrad said adding that he often heard his late father and Dr Dutta discussing the importance of “Looking South” as far as Meghalaya was concerned but looking east was perhaps more suited to the other states adjoining South east Asia.
Reminiscing those events of fifteen years, Conrad recalled PA Sangma and Dutta brainstorming for hours on constitutional amendments where the North Eastern states would be positioned more critically visi-a-vis the rest of the country; whether India was ready for the Presidential form of government. The two rued the fact that the North Eastern Council had changed direction from being a policy planner for the region to a gap funding agency. The duo had even conceived of a North East Parliament along the lines of the European Union.
Conrad said, “Dr Dutta exuded calmness and peace and counselled me on what I should do and where I needed course correction. It is befitting that we celebrate the life of this great man whose ideas will live on.”
The Look East Policy was also a brainchild of Dutta along with other thinkers and statesmen from the region and the action points were presented to the then Prime Minister of India, Narasimha Rao in 1992, informed former Chief Secretary, MS Rao who said that Dutta was a frequent visitor to the Raj Bhavan to prod the Governors to take up critical issues of development of the state and region with the centre.
The former High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Tariq Karim recalled that Dutta was very keen on bilateral trade with Bangladesh and the states of the North Eastern Region.
“India and Bangladesh are two countries conjoined at the hip and separated by a surgical procedure. There is nothing internal to us. The lines between external and internal are blurred and Dr Dutta worked tirelessly at sub-regional cooperation. In fact the Asian Confluence was a place where all that was discussed. I will personally miss this stalwart,” Karim said.
Earlier, welcoming the gathering his son Sabyasachi Dutta said that just two days before he passed away Dutta attended a webinar organized by Women’s College, Shillong on the occasion of the installation ceremony of the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar a great proponent of women’s education, in the campus. Dr Dutta was also the founder member of Women’s College.
An educator, a statesman and visionary who tried his best to organize the North Eastern states into a powerful platform, Dutta also was the initiator of the North East India Congress Committee (NEICC) where political stalwarts discussed the future prospects of the region and presented their action points to the central government.
An all-faith prayer was also conducted on the occasion.