Monday, April 26, 2010

At home in the world

Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth centenary celebrations, to begin next month, have already set the drums rolling at the ‘cultural departments’ of the government, both Central and states. Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, ever anxious to get a foot in the door, has renamed as ‘Rabindra Ghat’ the crematorium by the river Hooghly where the poet was cremated 69 years ago. That jells with a Tagore song if sung in reverse: for you it is the beginning, for me it is the end.

Not to be outmanoeuvred by Mamata’s Trinamool Congress, the ruling Left Front in West Bengal is christening even routine rural development projects with the ‘R’ word embedded in it. At an even higher level, Tagore’s institutionalising is progressing with great fervour. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced that a “distinguished panel” of 25 persons would oversee the celebrations. The Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) is unveiling plans to showcase Tagore to the world, maybe to display India’s ‘soft power’.

It could well be so as the PM has announced that the celebrations would be ‘jointly’ held with Bangladesh, the second nation of the subcontinent with a Tagore song as its national anthem. Besides, Unesco has passed a resolution that it would celebrate Tagore’s 150 years and the centenaries of Pablo Neruda and Aimé Césaire' as an instance of what it has named, with appropriate profundity, as the ‘reconciled universal’.

Full report here Hindustan Times

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