On November 12, 2003, Jadavpur University became the 67th Institute in the world (and the first in India) to receive the SYLFF Endowment. The Award ceremony took place at Raj Bhavan (the Governor’s House) in Kolkata.
In her introductory speech, Professor Joyashree Roy, the Project Director of the JU-SYLFF Programme, welcomed all the guests - His Excellency Mr. Viren J. Shah, the Governor of West Bengal and the Chancellor of Jadavpur University, Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, President of the Nippon Foundation, Professor A.N. Basu, Vice Chancellor of Jadavpur University, Professor Satya Sadhan Chakraborty, Hon’ble Minister of Higher Education, Government of West Bengal, esteemed guests from the Tokyo Foundation and the Nippon Foundation, Vice Chancellors of the neighbouring universities, all the Head of the Departments of the Arts Faculty of Jadavpur University and the Deans of Jadavpur University. Prof. Roy spoke about the SYLFF programme and the unique opportunity it would provide to students willing to pursue higher studies in area of social science. In her speech she mentioned the proactive efforts of Jadavpur University in order to get the SYLFF Fellowship. She also explained that the SYLFF programme aims to bring out and nourish the leadership potential of the students and looked forward to creating young leaders who would think beyond their discipline and geographical boundaries. She concluded her speech with a vote of thanks and a request for cooperation and a wish to see many more SYLFF institutes in India.
Prof. A.N. Basu, the Vice Chancellor of Jadavpur University spoke about the extraordinary career of Mr. Yohei Sasakawa and his strong presence in the global scenario.
This was followed by a few words from the Hon’ble Minister of Higher Education Minister of West Bengal, Prof. Satyasadhan Chakroborty. He began by thanking the Nippon Foundation and Tokyo Foundation for providing such a brilliant academic opportunity to the students of West Bengal. He pointed out that our State has always been a pioneer in the field of knowledge and research and such a programme will further facilitate researchers to broaden their horizon of work. He expressed pride in his students and the Universities in the State for the immense work that they have been doing. Prof. Chakraborty, once again expressed his gratitude to Tokyo Foundation and Nippon Foundation for including Jadavpur University in their Programme.
Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, President of the The Nippon Foundation began his speech by appreciating Jadavpur University for such an initiative. He charted out the history of the programme and pointed out that the field of overseas assistance has been active around the world for long. He also spoke at length about his involvement in the ‘Elimination of Leprosy Project’. In this context, he mentioned about his earlier visits to India- to the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa where he met the chief ministers and the health ministers with regard to his Leprosy programme. For him the biggest challenge was to reach out to the unreachable patients.
He spoke about the SYLFF award and addressed a hearty welcome to Jadavpur University as the receiver of the endowment. He pointed out that the Nippon Foundation not only provides funds but also helps in the process of building networks and making the SYLFF scholars leaders at both the national and the global level.
He spoke about Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian to be awarded the Noble Prize. He mentioned that Rabindranath Tagore had visited Japan four times and shared a great friendship with Japanese thinker Okokora. He feels that Japan and India share a spiritual friendship and such programmes will further strengthen that bond.
After Mr. Sasakawa, His Excellency The Governor of West Bengal and the Chancellor of Jadavpur University, Mr. Viren J Shah welcomed the guests and said what a privilege it was for him to be associated with the programme. He commended Jadavpur University for its efforts, progress, development and contribution towards society and nation building. He thanked The Nippon Foundation for awarding Jadavpur University with the prestigious award, which would help the university in further reaching out to the best and bright students intending to pursue higher studies. He believes that the socio economic empowerment of the poor and weak people of India could only be brought about by a dedicated and sensitive band of educated and motivated young people who are intellectually strong and morally upright and are willing to make a dent in the numerous socio–political problems of our country. He feels that a scholarship programme like SYLFF can make that happen and he concluded his speech by offering his thanks to The Nippon Foundation for selecting Jadavpur University.
This was followed by a Press Conference and a gift giving ceremony where gifts were handed over to the Delegates and to the Ministers. After a tea and snacks session, the guests were ushered into the Brown Room, where the students and staff put up a cultural show.
The Registrar of Jadavpur University recited a poem by Rabindranath Tagore. The students of the Department of English, Jadavpur University performed the first act of Kalidasa’s Shakuntala.