Treasure trove of Bengali science magazines

Banking on 40 years of experience in running a science club, a retired headmaster in West Bengal has built up a treasure trove of Bengali science magazines, many of which are no longer in print.

Established by Dipak Kumar Dan, the archive at Gobardanga in North 24 Parganas district, about 60 km from here, has about 200 Bengali science magazine titles, some of which are 60 years old.

The prized collection includes ‘Bijali’, a magazine on electric energy which was in its 32nd year of publication in 1965; ‘Chikitsa Jagat’ on health which was running for 40 years in 1970. There is also ‘Jnan o Bijnan’ since its 1950 edition brought out by Satyendra Nath Bose.

Dan, assisted by his wife Rekha, also a school teacher, had set up the Gobardanga Gabeshana Parishat, 'to arouse the thirst for scientific knowledge and for research'.

"When I was a college student, I had seen magazines at the Bangiya Bijnan Parishad. Since then I had dreamt about having such an archive of science magazines at Gobardanga where people particularly students could come and read them," said Dan who retired as headmaster in 2010.

The Parishat's collection of science magazines is part of a library which also has many books in Bengali in science besides encyclopedias.

There are magazines on topics as diverse as agriculture and computer science. Besides ‘Bijali’, the Parishat has ‘Aparajeyo Putrakanya’ (disability), ‘Dhandha’ (mathematics), ‘Akash Darpan’ (astronomy), ‘Saar Samachar’ (fertilizer) and Photon (photography).

"We have magazines published from various parts of West Bengal, Tripura and about 20 titles from Bangladesh. Some of the magazines were published by the governments of West Bengal and Bangladesh," said Dan.

Set up on February 21, 2010, the Parishat will inaugurate the first floor of its office building later this month.

Of late, the Parishat has been collecting rural newspapers and little magazines.

On the cost involved, Dan said, "We do not require financial assistance from the government or anyone else. We are managing with our own resources.

"I and my wife Rekha, are happy with this. If someone visits the library and wants to do research we will be happy. We can also study. We have plenty of material to study here," said Dan, who has a number of books on science to his credit.

"From my experience in the science club, I know I can have more magazines but I don't have enough space to keep them," lamented Dan who had set up the science club, Gobardanga Renaissance Institute in 1973.

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