Come May, India and Bangladesh will join hands to celebrate Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary. The joint commemorative programmes will start with a ceremony in Delhi on May 7 followed by another one in Dhaka the next day.
Efforts are on to ensure the presence of the Prime Ministers and the Presidents of both countries at the programmes, said Jawhar Sircar, the Union culture secretary.
He led an Indian delegation to Dhaka last week to finalise Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s proposal to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for holding joint celebrations of Tagore’s birth anniversary to rekindle international interest in his works.
High commissioners of both countries, the secretaries of the culture ministries, representatives of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and Dhaka University, scholars and cultural personalities like Sankho Ghosh, Bharati Ray, Sutapa Talukdar, Ramendu Majumdar, Sanjida Khatun, Sayed Hassan Imam and Laila Hassan met and discussed the joint celebrations during the visit.
“The national anthems adopted by India and Bangladesh were both written by Tagore. It is natural that we would collaborate to celebrate our heritage,” said Sircar.
The delegates felt that the neighbours should hold international seminars and bring out publications together. A seminar on “Contemporising Tagore in the Modern World”, which experts from across the world are expected to attend in Dhaka in the last week of April, will provide a glimpse of what is to follow.
There are plans to pool resources for seminars on Tagore’s pioneering work in areas like “gender discrimination”.
“Tagore wrote about gender discrimination about seven decades before it gained currency across the globe. Then there is his work on village development. He tried out modern methods of cultivation at Shilaidaha and later Santiniketan,” said delegation member K.K. Banerjee, the eastern region convener of the Tagore Commemorative Committee formed by the Centre.
Academician and writer Bharati Ray said there were proposals for exhibitions of Tagore’s paintings, a coffee table book on him and a dance drama featuring leading artistes of both countries.
“Conserving sites associated with Tagore and various memorabilia will naturally call for more detailed discussions but we are considering tours touching Santiniketan, Jorasanko, Shilaidaha, Shahzadpur and other places,” said Sircar.
In a trial run of sorts, the Indian delegation spent 12 hours visiting sites in Bangladesh associated with Tagore before returning to Calcutta by road.