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Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary should reflect his personality: PM

New Delhi: Prime Minister Dr. Manamohan Singh on Thursday said the commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore should reflect his complex and multi-layered personality besides showcasing different strands of his cultural genius.

“Our tribute should reflect his complex and multi-layered personality and the different strands of his cultural genius,” he said.

Presiding over the first meeting of the National Committee for commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, Dr. Singh asked the committee to focus and highlight lesser-known aspects of Tagore”s genius.

“There are many less well known aspects of Gurudev”s genius and we should focus on them as well in the events planned as part of the 150 Year Celebrations,” Dr. Singh said.

Speaking on this occasion, Dr. Singh said the establishment of a high-level Committee for this purpose reflects the serious commitment of the Centre to commemorate this anniversary year in a befitting manner.

“We wish to use the occasion to rekindle interest in the life and works of Gurudev,” Dr. Singh said.

Even though Tagore received worldwide acclaim for his literary works, the Prime Minister said, he was a multi-faceted genius who made important and pioneering contributions to different facets of Indian culture.

Recalling an incident that occured during the inauguration of an exhibition of Tagore”s paintings at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Dr. Singh said: “I was humbled by the range and depth of the works that were displayed. I was surprised to learn that Tagore never had any formal training in art and yet was able to create such priceless treasures.”

“We should use the occasion to create cultural institutions and structures that honour the memory of the great poet, and which have lasting value,” Dr. Singh suggested.

“We should ensure that these auditoriums and bhavans are aesthetically designed spaces and are worthy of being named after the great cultural icon that Tagore is,” he added.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Education Minister, Prof. Humayun Kabir, had started a programme of building auditoria and cultural complexes that were named as Rabindra Rangashala, Rabindra Bhavan, Rabindra Manch, Tagore Centre and so on.

In the 1960s and later in the 1970s, these were among the first visible cultural spaces of independent India.

Dr. Singh also asked the Committee to look into the upgradation of older auditoria that was set up as part of the Tagore’s centenary celebrations.

“I understand that the Implementation Committee, under the Finance Minister, is considering the upgradation of some of the older auditoria that were set up as part of the Tagore Centenary Celebrations,” he said.

“The Committee would also look into the possibility of establishing new auditoria in cities where there is a genuine need for such complexes,” Dr Singh added.

Dr. Singh also stressed on the need to translate Tagore’s works in other languages.

“Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore belongs to the whole of India and indeed to all of mankind. Tagore’s works have travelled all over the world and are read in different languages. I feel that we need to do more to translate his works into other languages. We should encourage translation of his works not only into Hindi and other Indian languages but also foreign languages. His message is very relevant today and can attract people of all persuasions and creeds,” Dr Singh stated.

Singh also asked that Committee to consider how India could fulfill Bangladesh’s commitment and how to associate Tagore”s many followers in Bangladesh in these commemoration events.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, who visited India in January, had agreed that she along with Dr. Singh would oversee the joint celebrations of Tagore’s 150th Birth Anniversary in 2011 in a manner befitting his vision and spirit.

Talking further about Tagore’s personality, Dr. Singh said Tagore thought deeply about rural development and regeneration and experimented with his ideas at Sriniketan with the help of people like Leonard Elmhirst, William Pearson, C.F. Andrews and Kali Mohan Ghosh. In fact, he donated a part of his Nobel Prize money for the development of the cooperative movement.

Dr. Singh asked the Committee to encourage further study in some of these areas and see if his ideas could be developed into something concrete in today”s circumstances.

“Gurudev’s experiments with alternate education, especially through his ‘Patha Bhawan’ in open sylvan surroundings, were remarkable. I would be happy if this commemoration highlights the relevance of his views on education,” he said.

Dr Singh asked the Committee to use its knowledge and experience to implement the recommendation of Gopalkrishna Gandhi committee to revive the Visva Bharati University.

“We need to pay special attention to the University of his dreams, the Visva Bharati. The High Level Committee under the leadership of Shri Gopalkrishna Gandhi had made several suggestions. Government of India has released funds for the implementation of the recommendations. But we should go further and I would like the Committee to use its knowledge and experience to see how we can revive this historic institution and restore it to its former glory,” Dr. Singh said.

Asking the Committee to evolve a method for renewing different countries’ interest in Tagore, Dr. Singh said: “Rabindranath Tagore traveled to the farthest corners of the globe and is remembered with reverence and affection in many countries. We should involve our embassies in different countries to rekindle interest in Tagore and to build on these historic cultural links,” he said.

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