MSU was once a place where freedom was a reality.

Students at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (MSUB) remember sketching away sketching away . Students of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FFA) in Vadodara were an omnipresent presence .

Any visitor to Vadodara will remember students at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (MSUB) with sketch pads and pencils at the railway station, at Kamatibaug (now Sayajibaug), or at the Khanderao market, sketching away.You may even be the muse of a burgeoning artist if you waited long enough at the train station.The student of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FFA) in Vadodara was such an omnipresent presence that dancing at the Fine Arts Faculty's garba during the Navratri was a privilege for those of us in other Faculties.When we danced to the dhols, students wore everything from denims to chania cholis.

Of the hours spent hanging out on the steps of Central Hall, of the arguments with our professors, of the zealous fights during student body elections, and of sipping over-boiled tea in cracked cups at the college canteen, it happened on May 9, 2007.A crowd erupted in the FFA to protest a 26-year-old boy from Andhra Pradeshs Mandapalli village's obscene depictions of Goddess Durga and Jesus Christ.As part of the assessment for his Master of Visual Arts (MVA) certificate, Srilamanthula Chandramohan work was shown.Chandramohans works are still untested in the classroom, being classified as a crime scene.

Vadodara became known as a capital of the arts, where creativity and expression were a living reality.Sayajirao III, the artist who is credited with being the first to create human form to Hindu Gods and Goddesses by his work, was the first to invite the famous Raja Ravi Varma of Travancore.The city also has a gallery dedicated to Ravi Varma in the Maharaja Fatehsinh Museum, which runs out of artistic spaces designed by European designers.Baroda (now Vadodara), is the most prominent building in the Faculty of Arts, whose dome, inspired by the Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur, was created by British architect Robert Chisholm in the Indo-Saracenic style.

MSU, though funded by government grants, has a royal family member as its chancellor, unlike other state universities where the governor is the chancellor.Rajmata Shubhanginiraje is the current chancellor of Mandvi, the wife of the late Ranjitsinh Gaekwad, an FFA alum, whose campus extends from the Music College, now the Faculty of Performing Arts, to Pratapgunj, 3 kilometers away, where the hostels are located.Between them are the Kalabhavan, an 1892 palace housing the Faculty of Engineering and Technology, the Faculty of Fine Arts on the banks of the Vishwamitri river, and the Faculty of Science in Pratapgunj.There is no one in the world who hasn't seen Sri Aurobindo's room in the Faculty of Arts when he was Sayajirao IIIs speech writer and principal of Baroda College from 1893-1906.

Despite this, the university's FFA stands out as the university's most prominent feature.According to an academic catalog on the MSU website, FFA has produced some of the country's best-known artistes.With every clash and assault on innovation, such as the most recent one, a lot of emphasis is being given to the creative identity of students and teachers.However, with each clash and assault on creativity, such as the present one, that space for inventive and research-minded art shrinks a lot.Misra, Resident Editor, Gujarat, is an alumnus of MS University.