Hon’ble Minister of Culture, Kumari Selja addressing at the National Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore

On 7th May 2011 at Vigyan Bhawan, New delhi

“Blessed is he”, said Rabindranath Tagore “whose fame does not outshine truth”

We have reached the end of what is undeniably a momentous occasion – the Inaugural Function of the 150th Birth Anniversary of a towering genius of our times, Rabindranath Tagore.

Gurudev, a multi dimensional genius was among the greatest philosophers and thinkers of our times. As someone aptly described, his words and expression have the enduring power that lights up a melancholic heart, humbles the arrogance of one’s soul, broadens a narrow mind immensely, strengthens the spirit of the weak, sharpens the conscience of the society, and soothes the restless. In all these regards, much of his works are transcending and universal.

Even as we celebrate our arts and culture in remembrance of Gurudev, this is also a poignant moment to contemplate and introspect on the relevance of his teachings for contemporary India. Many of his works represent a protest against maladies and wrongs of the society, including oppression of women, caste system and communal prejudices. The lives of the oppressed and powerless, poor and landless, deprived and hopeless that are exploited by the others, constituted important themes of his works.

His reflection on various challenges we face today especially in making education accessible to all, is indeed thought provoking. He rightly remarked “I believe that all human problems find their fundamental solution in education”. And Unlike a theoretician, Rabindranath practically showed in Shantiniketan how education

Rabindranath Tagore was also the Ambassador of Indian culture to the rest of the world. He was a colossus who made outstanding contribution to the development of painting, music, dance and drama. The prestigious Visva Bharati is living testimony of his philosophy. In his own words, “Visva Bharati represents India where she has her wealth of mind which is for all. Visva Bharati acknowledges India’s obligation to offer to others the hospitality of her best culture and India’s right to accept from others their best”. This indeed is the guiding light for all of us.

The Joint Celebration with Bangladesh is of special significance to us and it was flagged in the Joint Communiqué of our two Prime Ministers in January 2010. Hon’ble Vice President of India was the chief guest at the ceremony held in Dhaka yesterday. We deeply appreciate the enthusiasm shown by the Government of Bangladesh and are confident that the Commemorations will  be remarkable in all senses.

My Ministry has been working on the suggestions of National Committee under the Prime Minister and is also benefitting from the constant guidance of the Finance Minister and the members of the National Implementation Committee. We have evolved a comprehensive strategy for taking the erudite works of art and teachings of Gurudev to the common man.

Several initiatives launched in this connection have been elucidated in the address of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. Friends, I would like to draw your special attention to a very flexible new scheme which my ministry specifically launched for the Commemoration period. It’s called the ‘Tagore Commemorative Functions Grants Scheme’. Under the scheme, different types of cultural functions and commemorative events, from seminars and symposiums to performing arts and theatre are eligible to receive financial assistance from the ministry. The assistance can be availed through eight Zonal committees set up to fast track the applications. So far, we have already approved almost 200 events and initiatives and will welcome more deserving proposals throughout the Year.

unfolds the immense possibilities inherent in man. Some of its illustrious students include Gayatri Devi, Satyajit Ray, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, Shri K.G. Subramanian, Smt. Mahashweta Devi and our beloved former Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi. World over, people are facing critical challenges which call for solidarity, mutual understanding, humanism and tolerance. These values central to Gurudev’s philosophy of life and growth are of immense global relevance today.

Distinguished guests, I take this opportunity to thank Hon’ble Prime Minister of India who has been continuously guiding us in planning the celebrations. Hon’ble Planning Minister of Bangladesh Air Vice Marshall (Retd) A.K. Khandker – your presence here today is much appreciated and I thank your government for the wonderful support and co-operation we have received. I am grateful to Madam Sonia Gandhiji, Hon’ble Chairperson of the UPA, for having graced the function, underscoring its high importance. I wish to place on record my sincere gratitude to all members of National Implementation Committee under the chairmanship of Shri Pranab Mukherjee and to my colleagues heading different ministries and the ICCR for their valuable support and initiatives, which have made the Commemorative releases today possible. My ministry and I personally, also extend our appreciation to the senior artistes, Shri Mudgal, for their beautiful renditions of Rabindranath Sangeet.

I would like to conclude with quote from Gurudev which should become our collective call. I quote
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy

Let these meaningful words of Gurudev, re-affirm our commitment to preserve and uphold our great nation as the symbol of Universal Humanity.

Thank You All. Jai Hind.