U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, besides discussing crucial issues on bilateral trade and U.S. investments, also agreed to increase cultural cooperation.
Soon after greeting Ms. Clinton in the corridors of the State Secretariat, Ms. Banerjee drew her attention to a portrait of Rabindranath Tagore and informed her about the birth anniversary of the poet on Tuesday.
Ms. Banerjee presented Ms. Clinton with a scarf from Santiniketan, English translations of Tagore's Gitanjali, Gitabitan — a collection of his songs, collected works of Swami Vivekananda and a book on Sri Ramakrishna.
Ms. Clinton reciprocated the gesture with a scarf bearing an engraving of Tagore and a line from one of his songs inscribed on it.
During their discussions, Ms. Banerjee expressed her desire to organise a World Youth Festival to commemorate the 150 birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and sought Ms. Clinton's cooperation in this regard.
Referring to Vivekananda's address to the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893 where he addressed the gathering as “brothers and sisters of America,” Ms. Banerjee said the history of the two countries was connected.
Ms. Banerjee said her government was keen to organise a programme on the lines of Vivekananda's address in Chicago and both the governments could work together to commemorate his birth anniversary. “She told me that she will speak to the Mayor of Chicago and let me know,” Ms. Banerjee said.
The Chief Minister told Ms. Clinton that actor Shah Rukh Khan was the brand ambassador of West Bengal to which the U.S. Secretary of State said he was very popular in her country too and had fans there. “I proposed cooperation between Hollywood, Bollywood and Tollywood [the Bengali film industry] for promoting the entertainment industry. She liked the idea.” Ms. Banerjee said.