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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that Rabindranath Tagore’s vision for the Visva-Bharti university is the essence of a self-reliant India or the government’s AatmaNirbhar Bharat mission.

“Gurudev, omniscient and omniscient, walked towards the greater goal of human welfare through co-existence and cooperation. This vision of Gurudev for Visva-Bharati is also the essence of self-reliant India. Self-reliant India campaign is also the path of India's welfare for world welfare," Modi said, addressing the centenary celebrations of the Visva-Bharati university, Shantiniketan.

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The Visva-Bharati university, founded by Rabindranath Tagore in 1921, is the country's oldest central university. It was also declared an institution of national importance by an Act of Parliament in 1951.

It’s a campaign for India’s empowerment and prosperity, and through it, for prosperity of the world, he said, adding that Tagore and the institution he founded not only strengthened the spirit of nationalism but also promoted inclusiveness that strengthened vishva bandhutva or universital brotherhood.

“This campaign is a campaign to empower India, a campaign to bring prosperity… Who knows this better than Bharati and the world? Gurudev gave us the pledge of 'Swadeshi Samaj'. They wanted to see our villages, our agriculture as self-reliant, they wanted to see commerce and trade self-sufficient, they wanted to see art and literature as self-reliant. He spoke of 'self-power' to achieve the goal of self-reliance," Modi said.

The Prime Minister, who addressed the convocations and centenary celebrations of four universities—the University of Mysore, University of Lucknow, Aligarh Muslim University and Visva-Bharati—within a span of little over two months, also spoke about the role played by educational institutions in driving the freedom movement.

“It is also trying to fulfill this objective through the new National Education Policy. Visva-Bharati has a big role in implementing this education policy. You have 100 years of experience, scholarship, direction, philosophy, and Gurudev's blessing is there.," Modi said.

Meanwhile, the West Bengal ruling party All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) alleged that chief minister Mamata Banerjee was not invited to the centenary celebrations of the university.

“Mamata Banerjee did not receive any invitation for the centenary meet of Visva Bharati," TMC leader Bratya Basu said, addressing a press conference. He also said that Modi made "factual errors" during his speech, earlier during the day.

“Even if the invitation, as you suggest, was sent last night, should that be the decorum? After all, she (Banerjee) is the chief minister of a state," Basu said, responding to a query by a reporter.

With inputs from PTI

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