Tagore Centre for the Study of Culture and Civilization in IIAS
On the 150th Birth Anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS) has been awarded the Tagore Centre for the Study of Culture and Civilization by the HRD Ministry of Government of India. Since the IIAS is mandated to seek out ‘the first principles and not particular details’ it will be the most natural location for an intense conversation between the ‘inner and the outer’, between the ‘home and the world’, about the continuities between yesterday and today, and about the possibilities of both for tomorrow which occupied Tagore throughout his life.
The Centre was inaugurated by Shri Pranab Mukherjee the President of India on 24 May 2013, at Shimla. On this occasion, he also delivered the First Rabindranath Tagore Memorial Lecture. It was an auspicious beginning that established the Tagore Centre on firm foundations. The Institute organised Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Rabindranath Tagore Memorial Lectures and were delivered by Shri Gulzar Sahib, Shri Ratan Thiyam, Professor B.N. Goswamy, Professor Ramesh Chandra Shah, Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri Venkaiah Naidu and Shri Ram Madhav respectively.
Therefore, while focusing on Tagore’s works and thoughts the Centre will create space where the vision of the seer, the sensibility of the poet, the creativity of the artist, the anxieties of the educationist, the questions of the philosopher, the aspirations of the subjugated, and the hopes of the internationalist would find a place. The Centre, as its name indicates, will not be a Tagore Study Centre which would aim at studying just Tagore’s works and thoughts though such a study will be one of its important activities. Since the Centre is dedicated to celebrating the ecumenism of Tagore, it would allow for reflective and creative engagement with the human condition by exploring new idioms of art, poetry, and music. Thus, the Centre will provide space to scholars as well as the practicing artists to signal Tagore’s deep engagement with culture and civilization founded on his belief in the oneness of our world. That is what enthused him to explore creatively the different sources that have gone into the making of many layers and facets of Indian culture and civilization. Tagore’s intellectual evolution and sensibility enabled him to assert the humanistic, moral, universal, liberal, and progressive tendencies and discard the narrow, obsolete, obscurantist and retrograde from within his own and from other traditions of thought.
Contemporary intellectual life confronts just such a struggle between the open and the narrow, the progressive and the retrograde, and therefore the Tagore Centre would serve as a site for a dialogue between India and the world. It will also initiate a South-South intellectual and cultural exchange. The Centre is therefore deliberately constituted as an open space to avoid the parochialism that marks many of the initiatives that are today concerned with the study of culture and civilization. The spirit of Tagore’s creative engagement with the classical to the folk, with the traditional and the modern, with science and humanism, is the guiding force for planning the activities of the Centre. The Centre will provide short/long term opportunities to the practitioners of culture and civilization who are engaged with concerns similar to those which preoccupied
Tagore such as education, environment, artistic and literary imagination, participatory development, nationalism, cultural influences, reconciliation, philosophy and humanism, science and society. Such engagements may involve the textual study of his work, or a creative engagement with his literary imagination or with his experiments in music, dance, and painting, or practicing innovative ideas in education and environment in the urban and rural context, or simply with larger implications and possibilities of his vision.
The Tagore Centre for the Study of Culture and Civilization, which is part of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla has areas of research and academic engagement that blend seamlessly with the broad mandate of the Institute to reflect upon the complexity of the human condition in a manner that is free from prejudice and open to plural readings. Its Tagore Centre seeks to advance the study of the elements of Tagore’s Humanist philosophy and his cosmopolitanism.
Activities of the Centre:
· There will be four fellows in residence at the Centre every year. None of the fellows will be permanent and their term will be for a minimum of six months to a maximum of two years. They will enjoy facilities similar to those enjoyed by the fellows of IIAS. One of the fellows will be either a poet, or a writer, or an artist-in-residence as a tribute to Tagore’s multifaceted personality. Another will be a scholar from outside India. The fellows will be known as Tagore Fellows.
· There will be an annual International Seminar on some aspect of Tagore’s concerns. This will preferably not be of an exegetical nature but more an engagement with his substantial concerns as stated in the vision document.
· A study week on Tagore’s works would be organized every alternate year.
· An artist camp could perhaps be organized every alternate year.
· An annual Tagore Lecture would be organized.