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Tagore's vision for Visva-Bharati is essence of self-reliant India: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during centenary celebrations of Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, via video conferencing in New Delhi on Thursday. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also present. (ANI Photo)Premium
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during centenary celebrations of Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, via video conferencing in New Delhi on Thursday. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also present. (ANI Photo)

  • The PM said that Visva-Bharati's hundred-year journey is very special and a matter of pride for every Indian
  • Some statement made by the PM during the address led to a debate with the TMC raising objections

Rabindranath Tagore’s vision for the Visva-Bharati University is the basis for self-reliant India, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

"Rabindranath Tagore called for a ‘swadeshi samaj’. He wanted to see self-reliance in agriculture, commerce and business, art, literature etc. Tagore wanted the entire humanity to benefit from India’s spiritual awakening. The vision for a self-reliant India is also a derivative of this sentiment. The call for a self-reliant India is for the world’s benefit too," the PM said.

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The PM was addressing the centenary celebrations of Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal’s Shantiniketan through video conference.

"Self-reliant India campaign is the path of India's welfare for world welfare. This campaign is a campaign to empower India, a campaign to bring prosperity from the prosperity of India to the world," Modi said.

He said that Visva-Bharati's hundred-year journey is very special and a matter of pride for every Indian. The PM pointed out that the university was a venerable source of constant energy to the country and the ideas originated there were being carried forward by the nation in the international sphere.

PM Modi also stated that India is the only major country on the right path to achieve the environmental goals of the Paris Accord.

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal were also present at the event.

Visva-Bharati University, founded by Rabindranath Tagore in 1921, is the oldest Central University in the country. In May 1951, the university was declared to be a Central University and an Institution of National Importance by an Act of Parliament.

TMC raises objections

The PM's address holds significance as the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP are being seen in a race to one-up each other in the run-up to the Assembly elections in the state.

Some statement made by the PM during the address also led to a debate with the TMC raising objections.

"When I speak about Gurudev, I cannot help but indulge in speaking a little about his visits to Gujarat. He used to visit his elder brother who was posted there. He even wrote two of his famous poems whilst in Gujarat," the PM said. He also referred to Tagore's sister-in-law, saying she introduced modern sari-draping to India.

Reacting to the PM's comments, TMC called him out on "pronunciation and factual errors". Bengal minister Bratya Bose said the attempt to link Tagore and Gujarat was inexplicable.

"Tagore's brother who was in Gujarat was not the oldest brother. His wife's name was Gyanadanandini, not what the PM said. The story about Gyanadanandini and the sari pallu is a myth, not true," said Bose.

The PM's statement had come in the backdrop of state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee repeatedly stating she will not allow Bengal to be turned into Gujarat.

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