Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday described Rabindranath Tagore as a multi-faceted genius who made important, pioneering contributions to different facets of Indian culture.

Inaugurating an international event here to mark Tagore's 150th birth anniversary celebrations, the Minister said: “Tagore was a poet, an author, a composer, a superb visual artist and a philosopher. He left behind a legacy of words and music, of art and thought that will be cherished for a long time to come. Even 150 years after his birth and 70 years after his demise in 1941, Tagore remains a radiant presence in our lives. This abiding interest in Tagore has at its source his own passionate involvement in the world around him. He fashioned a universal, inclusive vision of solidarity and harmony, with the human person at its centre.”

The three-day event has been organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

Pointing out that Tagore championed for India and the world at large to seek and attain global unity, Mr. Mukherjee said he stood for shunning the politics of nationalism, which violates an individual's inherent bond with each other by generating hatred between nations and locking them in a separate geographical cage. “This notion was the basis of his most celebrated and world-wide acclaimed novel ‘Ghare Baire' or ‘Home and the World'. The main character of the novel articulates this view with deep conviction, so much so that one can visualise Gurudev speaking.”

The Minister also inaugurated a photo exhibition, “Tagore: The Universal Message”, a collection of photographs by Raymond Burnier and Alain Danielou. It is open to the public up to October 28. The photographs were taken between 1932 and 1940 by the duo while they lived in Shantiniketan and eventually became residents there.

Tagore's far-sighted vision of the contemporary world is the focus of a series of international conferences. The conferences seek to highlight his multi-faceted genius and his impact on the global level.

Academicians and artistes from India and abroad will reflect on the relevance of Tagore's philosophy and his vision of freedom and the unity of mankind in conferences on diverse subjects.

According to ICCR president Karan Singh, Tagore gave humanity his vision of one world. “He used his great gifts of imagination and art for fostering faith in the unity of man and forging bonds of kinship with others. Today Tagore's ideas of universal humanism can be seen resonating in the contemporary world. His belief in the spiritual unity of the East and West was a powerful message of redemption for a society beset by greed, callousness and irreverence.”

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