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A memorial plaque to famous traveler Antanas Poška unveiled in Calcutta
A commemorative plaque to the famous Lithuanian traveler Antanas Paškevičius-Poška was unveiled in the University of Calcutta Library this Friday (16 January).
“In memory of Antanas Paškevičius-Poška, a great Lithuanian and a student of University of Calcutta (1933-1936), awarded posthumously with honorary D.Litt. degree in 2014 for his contribution to Indology studies,” reads the inscription in three languages, Lithuanian, English and Bengali, on the finest white marble plate.
“We have completed a historical mission today and repaid our debt to the famous Lithuanian traveler who has contributed so much to the building of Indo-Lithuanian relations,” said Ambassador Laimonas Talat-Kelpša at the unveiling ceremony.
Antanas Poška was awarded posthumously with honorary D.Litt. degree at the annual convocation of the University of Calcutta on 28 November 2014. His daughter Laimutė Kisielienė received the honors instead of him.
Present at the award ceremony in November were President of India Sri Pranab Mukherjee, as well as Governor of West Bengal Sri Keshari Nath Tripathi and Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Education and Science Dr. Rimantas Vaitkus.
Antanas Paškevičius-Poška was born in Gripkelių village, Pasvalys district (Northern Lithuania) in 1903. In 1929, at the age of 26, he set off for an adventurous motorbike trip from Lithuania to India, covering more than 5,000 kilometers. He was accompanied by another prominent Lithuanian Matas Šalčius.
Poška reached India in 1931 and Calcutta in 1933. He spent in Calcutta almost four years, working at the University and the Anthropology Lab of India Museum.
In 1936, Poška prepared and submitted his PhD thesis in physical anthropology under Professor Biraj Sankar Guha, named “Physical Affinities of Shina-speaking people of the Western Himalayas.” However, he had to leave India early without completing his degree.
In 2013, Lithuanian Embassy in India, in cooperation with the University of Calcutta, organized a conference dedicated to Poška’s centennial anniversary. This event triggered the interest of the academic community and resulted in a series of steps taken to perpetuate the memory of this eminent alumnus of the University.
The memorial plaque unveiled at the University Library is a joint project of the University of Calcutta and the Lithuanian Embassy in New Delhi.