GUWAHATI: Almost six decades ago, Bhupen Hazarika was compelled to quit his job as assistant lecturer at Gauhati University due to his purported association with leftists. Instead, the zazabor (wanderer) found place in every Indian's heart.
The university's decision to shun Hazarika in the 1950s was triggered by his association with the leftist Indian People's Theatre Association and his visit to Russia. Ironically, the same varsity gave the great poet his due respect after his death.
Not only is GU planning a grand memorial for the singer, the varsity also inaugurated a digital archive to immortalize his works a day before his first death anniversary. Speaking on the opening of the archive on Sunday, Meghalaya governor Ranjit Kumar Mooshahary said Hazarika's works talk about philosophy of life and are relevant even today.
About the singer, Mooshahary said: "Why do we listen to his songs or read his poems even today? Why do we still love him so much? It is because he struck an emotional chord with us. But at the same time it needs to be noted that if we cannot instill in us his humanitarian spirit, then we cannot understand his creations."
"He was passionate about three things - music and arts, social transformation and unification of mankind. The malaises which exist in our society today are mainly due to lack of integration, ethics, justice and politics sans principles, and superstition. Hazarika wanted reformation. If we fail to imbibe his ideas then it is futile to build memorials," he added.
The archive has been developed by the IT department of GU. "It is a special tribute to the great singer, lyricist and poet. It is necessary to take Bhupen Hazarika's works to the world and IT helped us do that," said Shikhar Kumar Sarma, head of the IT department. The project was initiated in December 2011.
There are two databases for lyrics and songs. The integration of the two databases is an important factor as the domain has been integrated with an interactive user interface. The domain has also been designed in the Unicode universal format. through which a user can paste the lyrics on a MS Word page effectively.
However, a user will not be able to download songs as the archive is meant for research and academic purposes.
The archive has 173 songs with lyrics, 152 songs in different languages, like English, Bengali, Karbi, Manipuri and Nagamese, and 356 lyrics. The department also plans to add Hazarika's movies and videos of his songs to the archive.