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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Santiniketan, Rabindranath Tagore’s Home, Joins UNESCO World Heritage List

Rabindranath Tagore, the recipient of the Nobel Prize, lived a large portion of his life in Santiniketan, a town in West Bengal’s Birbhum region, and it has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

“BREAKING! New inscription on the @UNESCO #WorldHeritage List: Santiniketan, #India. Congratulations!” UNESCO wrote on X (formally Twitter) on Sunday.

Santiniketan was a residential school and centre for art founded in 1901 by poet and philosopher Tagore. It was based on old Indian traditions and a concept of the unity of humanity transcending religious and cultural divides.

In 1921, Santiniketan founded a “world university” in honour of “Visva Bharati,” the idea that all people are one. Santiniketan is an example of efforts to a pan-Asian modernity, drawing on ancient, mediaeval, and folk traditions from all over the region. These methods are in contrast to the prevalent British colonial architectural orientations of the early 20th century and of European modernism.

India had long worked to have this cultural site in the Birbhum district designated by UNESCO.

The international advisory organisation ICOMOS proposed the historic location for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List a few months ago.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which has its headquarters in France, is a global non-governmental organisation devoted to the preservation and improvement of the architectural and landscape heritage throughout the world. Its members include professionals, experts, representatives from local authorities, businesses, and heritage organisations.

According to a description of the location on the official website of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, “Santiniketan, popularly known today as a university town, is a hundred miles to the north of Kolkata. It was originally an ashram built by Debendranath Tagore, where anyone, irrespective of caste and creed, could come and spend time meditating on the one Supreme God.”  It later became the Nobel laureate’s home and base for activity, it said.

According to the website, “Debendranath, who was the poet Rabindranath’s father, was also known as Maharshi (which means one who is both saint and sage), was a leading figure of the Indian Renaissance.”

Only one central university exists in Bengal, and that is Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan. The chancellor of the university is the prime minister.

The Centre made its initial attempt to have Santiniketan designated as a World Heritage Site in 2010. It resumed its campaign in 2021, and the Archaeological Survey of India, with the assistance of Visva Bharati officials, developed a new dossier that was presented to Unesco.

Amit Shah, the Union home minister, claimed that the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 was influenced by the educational paradigm that Tagore, the Nobel laureate, had introduced at Santiniketan while addressing at a function held to commemorate Tagore’s birth anniversary in Kolkata.

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Source: HT

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