For contributions towards promotion of international brotherhood
Honouring a man whose ardent belief in internationalism and the universal family of man was unshaken, the Indian government has decided to institute a Rs. 1 crore award in the name of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birth.
“The government of India has decided to institute a prestigious international award in the name of Rabindranath Tagore to recognise very distinguished contributions towards the promotion of international brotherhood and fraternity,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, inaugurating the year-long celebrations on Saturday.
First award next summer
The first award is likely to be presented next summer. Each year, a jury headed by the Prime Minister will select a person of outstanding public eminence whose life and work “epitomises the high universal ideals that Rabindranath Tagore stood for.”
Considering that Tagore's legacy is shared by Bengalis on both sides of the border, it was fitting that Bangladeshi Planning Minister A.K. Khandker was present at the event. Invoking Tagore's timeless message of universal brotherhood, he said Bangladesh firmly believed that to achieve peace and stability, society should be free from the scourge of terrorism and extremism.
“The government of Sheikh Hasina has promised India that Bangladesh will not allow its soil to be used by elements working against the interest of any country,” he said.
Renowned as a poet, painter, musician, novelist, playwright, philosopher and teacher, Tagore's “multifaceted genius” is being commemorated with a scheme of integrated cultural complexes to foster activity in a wide range of cultural fields. The Central government will bear up to 60 per cent of the cost for projects under the revamped scheme, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced at the same event.
The government has also given a special grant of Rs. 95 crore to revive Viswa Bharti, the university founded by Tagore, “which stands as a living symbol of the poet's enduring faith in the learning ability and creative power of the young mind and free spirit,” said the Prime Minister, who is also the chancellor of the university.
“Viswa Bharti should rightfully be one of the crown jewels of our academic world. But a lot of work needs to be done to restore this institution to its former glory and for it to live up to the true ideals of its founder,” he added.
The government and the university are also working to preserve Shantiniketan's cultural properties, which will once again be nominated for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by the end of the year.
A digital collection of 2,000 of Tagore's paintings was released at the event by United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who noted his influence on India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, as well as on his daughter Indira Gandhi, who studied at Shantiniketan. “Tagore provided the philosophical underpinnings to the political struggle for freedom,” she said. “His message resonates today when people mistake uniformity for unity.”