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Creation of New India has to be an inclusive process: Vice President

Says New India will be an innovation and knowledge hub Delivers 6th Rabindranath Tagore Memorial Lecture in Delhi Need to bring in elements of spontaneity, creativity and aesthetic sensibility into education system – VP Calls for cultural renaissance and stresses the need to protect and promote Indian civilizational values and traditions

The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today said that creation of New India has to be an inclusive process and called upon the people to continuously strive towards its realization.

Delivering the 6th Rabindranath Tagore Memorial Lecture, organized by the Shimla-based Indian Institute of Advanced Study in New Delhi, he said that the Prime Minister has outlined a vision for New India and endeavor to make a new vibrant India by 2022.

Observing that the aim was to uplift poor and downtrodden sections, he said: “This is possible only if 1.25 billion Indians join this effort to create a ‘Sankalpit Bharat, a ‘Sashakt Bharat’, a ‘Swachch Bharat’ and a ‘Shrestha Bharat’”.

Recalling the similar vision shared by Rabindranath Tagore, Shri Naidu quoted him as saying, “The real problem in India is that we must make the whole country creation of our own. A creation in which all the communities and individuals will participate.”

Stating that it would be a day of great glory and pride when India celebrates its 75 years of Independence in 2022, the Vice President said that he was confident that New India would be an innovation and knowledge hub with promising young digitally-empowered entrepreneurs, technocrats, scientists and academics working in tandem to find indigenous solutions to various problems from climate change to increasing agricultural productivity.

Referring to the institutions established by Rabindranath Tagore, he said that Santiniketan was an experiment to link education with life, connect students with nature and develop a harmonious, well-rounded personality. “We need to bring in these elements of spontaneity, creativity and aesthetic sensibility into our education system”, he added.

Paying eloquent tributes to Gurudev Tagore, the Vice President said that Rabindranath Tagore’s timeless vision has great relevance for India and the world even to this date.

The Vice President said that Rabindranath Tagore wrote prolifically and his views on various themes like education, nature, nationalism, internationalism, feminism, religion, language, caste system, reflect the astonishing range of his multi-faceted genius. “He was truly a Vishwa Kavi, cast in the mold of ancient Vedic rishis who gave us the universal vision of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” he added.

The Vice President said one must note Gurudev’s wise counsel on how we could revitalize Indian education by connecting to the grand tradition, drawing from the best minds and rediscovering our strengths.

Calling for protecting and promoting age-old Indian civilizational values, traditions and ethos, he stressed the need for a cultural renaiisance.

Mentioning that Tagore shared Gandhi Ji’s vision of Grama Swarajya and that development of rural areas was a major step towards real freedom, the Vice President said that Tagore echoed Gandhian call for “constructive programme” and rural upliftment or Gram Swarajya in his writings.

The Vice President said that Rabindranath Tagore believed that knowledge was a key driver of country’s transformation and therefore advocated that scientific research should help villagers to improve the quality of their lives. Quoting Tagore he said, “The only way to change things is to apply our newly acquired knowledge of economics, agriculture, health, and all other everyday sciences in the neglected villages.”

On this occasion, the Vice President also released the book titled ‘Swami Vivekananda -Hinduism and India’s Road to Modernity’ written by Prof. M. Paranjape.

The Chairman, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Professor Kapil Kapoor, Member-Secretary of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Shri Sachidanand Joshi, Director of IIAS, Professor Makarand R. Paranjape, Secretary, IIAS Dr VK Tiwari were among the dignitaries present at the event.

Following is the full text of the speech –

“Professor Kapil Kapoor ji, Chairman, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shri Ram Bahadur Rai ji, Chairman, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Professor Makarand R. Paranjape ji, Director, IIAS, Colonel Vijay K. Tiwari Ji, Secretary, IIAS, Distinguished Academicians, senior officials, sisters and brothers.

Thank you very much for inviting me to deliver the prestigious 6th Rabindranath Tagore Memorial Lecture, organized by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, a premier Institution for higher learning and research not only in the country but around the globe.

I feel specially privileged to deliver this lecture at a time when Gurudev Shri Rabindranath Tagore’s timeless vision seems to have  great relevance for India and the world.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The theme of today’s lecture is ‘Vision for New India’.

Every one of us has a vision of what our country should be like.  The men and women who fought for our country’s independence had a vision. They wanted our country to be free of colonial rule. The Constitution makers had a vision of how we should govern after we become independent.  Seventy years after we adopted our Constitution as the framework of our democratic system, we are now reviewing our past experience and are dreaming of the future India we all want to see.

It is natural for us to dream. But for translating this dream into reality, there has to be a steely determination, committed competent implementation, honest introspection and agile course correction.

Dear sisters and brothers,

Our dreams are grand because they are drawn from the dreams of our predecessors, or ancestors, the dreams that inspired the world over the last twenty centuries.  These are the dreams that found eloquent expression in the Vedic hymns, in the epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, in the universal vision of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gita, in the poetry, music, dance, art and architectural treasures and in the wisdom of social reformers and saint composers. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, like Gandhi ji, belongs to this illustrious lineage of visionary leaders.

Mahatma Gandhi had called him “the great sentinel”, a great moral force in India’s struggle for independence.

As Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru says in the ‘Discovery of India’, “Tagore represented essentially the cultural tradition of India, the tradition of accepting life in the fullness thereof and going through it with song and dance.”

Rabindranath Tagore wrote prolifically. His views on various themes like education, nature, nationalism, internationalism, feminism, religion, language, caste system, reflect the astonishing range of his multi-faceted genius. He was truly a Vishwa Kavi, cast in the mould of ancient Vedic rishis who gave us the universal vision of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”.

If I were to extract three key elements out of numerous important themes that emerge from his writings, I would like to look at the three institutions he established and what they symbolized for him. I am referring to Santiniketan, Sriniketan and Viswabharati.  His ideas on education, rural reconstructions and international cooperation are as relevant for us today when we are dreaming of a new India as they were nearly hundred years ago.

Santiniketan was an experiment to link education with life, connect students with nature and develop a harmonious, well rounded personality.  As Gurudev describes it, “I selected this spot where the sky is unobstructed to the verge of the horizon. There the mind could have its fearless freedom to create its own dreams. I was their companion. I sang to them. I composed musical pieces, operas and plays, and they took part in the performances.  I recited to them our epics, and this was the beginning of this school.”

This school was like the ancient Gurukula and sought to make education a “part of life itself” and “not be detached from it and be made into something abstract.”As Tagore explains,“I tried to arouse their interest in all things, in nature’s beauty and the surrounding villages, and also in literature. I tried to educate them through play-acting, through listening to music in a natural manner, and not merely by class teaching.”

We need to bring in these elements of spontaneity, creativity and aesthetic sensibility into our education system.

We need to blend knowledge with joy. As Gurudev says, “I wished to place the penance for knowledge on the pedestal of joy.”

We should also note Gurudev’s wise counsel on how we can revitalize Indian education by connecting to the grand tradition, drawing from the best minds and rediscovering our strengths: “The Indian heart will again be full when our education is a blend of the Vedic, Puranic, Buddhist, Jain and Islamic minds. That is how India will grasp the unity in its diversity. We must rediscover ourselves in this connected way or else our education will not be our own. No nation can thrive on imitation.”

It is a timely reminder that we should innovate not imitate. We should build on our strengths and learn from the best minds.

Rabindranath Tagore laid great focus, like Gandhiji, on rural areas and demonstrated what rural reconstruction should look like in his Sriniketan. While discussing about Sriniketan, his long-cherished dream, in the essay, ‘The Centre of Indian Culture’, he said, ‘‘If we could free even one village from the shackles of helplessness and ignorance, an ideal for the whole of India would be established. Let a few villages be rebuilt in this way, and I shall say they are my India. That is the way to discover the true India.”

Further he elaborated his ideas and defined the objective of Sriniketan. Writing in the Viswabharati Bulletin in 1928, he said, “The object of Sriniketan is to bring back life in its completeness into the villages making them self-reliant and self-respectful, acquainted with the cultural tradition of their own country and competent to make an efficient use of modern resources for the improvement of their physical, intellectual and economic conditions.”

For him, rural development was a major step towards real freedom.  This echoes the Gandhian call for “constructive programme” and rural upliftment or Gram Swarajya.

He had said, “When acquaintance with, practice of, and pride in cooperative self-determination shall have spread in our land, then on such broad abiding foundation alone may swaraj become true.”

This, in fact, is the spirit of the devolution of powers to the villages and municipal bodies envisaged in the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments. I am glad that the present government is also working on all aspects of rural development. We cannot afford to ignore the rural-urban divide any more.

Tagore believed that knowledge is a key driver of country’s transformation and therefore advocated that scientific research should help villagers to improve the quality of their lives. According to him, “The only way to change things is to apply our newly acquired knowledge of economics, agriculture, health and all other everyday sciences in the neglected villages.”

Tagore was convinced that knowledge has no territorial boundaries and that we are all, as humanity, linked to each other. He wanted to reinforce these civilizational and cultural ties through the institution of “Viswabharati”. It was a major step to take forward international cooperation in the cultural and intellectual field.

As Tagore himself said, “Viswabharati represents India where she has her wealth of mind which is for all. At no other period of history has mankind as a whole, been more alive to the need of human cooperation, more conscious of the inevitable and inescapable moral links which hold together the fabric of human civilization”.

Tagore’s vision was broad and universal. He saw the best aspects of both the West and the East. He wanted to synthesize the two and promote cross- cultural learning. To quote Pandit Nehru, “Tagore has helped to bring into harmony the ideals of the East and West, and broadened the bases of Indian nationalism. He has been India’s internationalist par excellence, believing and working for international co-operation, taking India’s message to other countries and bringing their messages to his own people.” As an example of a true Indian rooted in the Indian soil but with a global outlook, Tagore admiringly cites the “respectful receptiveness” of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who was “steeped in the best culture of his country, he was capable of finding himself at home in the larger world.”

These were just three pearls from the ocean of thoughts that Gurudev has left us as a lasting legacy. They provide three dreams we could possibly integrate into the vision for a new India we are trying to create. There are of course many more that could be useful embellishments to our new creation. The creation of new India has to be an inclusive process. Prime Minister Narendra Bhai Modi ji has set the overarching framework as “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sab ka Vishwas”. Gurudev Tagore with a similar vision, had said, “The real problem in India is that we must make the whole country a creation of our own. A creation in which all the communities and individuals will participate.”

It is a matter of great pride for us that the image and stature of our nation is on the rise in various fields –be it economic, academic, geo-political influence, defence, sports, science, IT and space technology.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

It will indeed be a day of great glory and pride when India celebrates its 75 years of Independence in 2022. However, we must not remain complacent and be content with status quo. We must continuously strive and channelize our energies towards creation and realization of a New India where the head is held high and, as Gurudev Tagore said, “the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls”.

The Honorable Prime Minister has outlined a vision for New India, the endeavor to make a new vibrant India by 2022. This is possible only if 1.25 billion Indians join this effort to create a ‘Sankalpit Bharat, a ‘Sashakt Bharat’, a ‘Swachch Bharat’ and a ‘Shrestha Bharat’.

I am confident that the New India will be an innovation and knowledge hub with promising young digitally-empowered entrepreneurs, technocrats, scientists and academics working in tandem to find indigenous solutions to various problems from climate change to increasing agricultural productivity.

I wish the Chairman, Director, faculty members and all other staff of this institute all the best in their efforts to catalyze development through knowledge and contribute to the national endeavour.


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