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Tagore Centre

Tagore Centre for Global Thought

In 2011, the 150th anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore's birth, the King's India Institute signed an agreement with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, to establish the Tagore Centre for Global Thought. Tagore's particular genius was to map the relationship between the concrete and the universal, and to connect the local with the global - and this ethos informs the activities of the Centre. The Centre acts as a focal point for exploring the global implications of modern India's intellectual traditions, and furthering the spirit of Tagore's insights across the world.

Throughout his life Tagore strove to find a language that allowed Indian philosophy and culture to speak to the rest of the world. In doing so, he developed a philosophy of 'contextual universalism' that is relevant today, as global society strives to balance the particularities of place, tradition and nationhood with the imperative for global connection and partnership. Especially important is Tagore's emphasis on the development of individual human personality, which he saw as a universal quest for autonomy based on critical judgement -- critical judgement exercised as much in relation to one's inherited values and traditions as to the claims of the modern world. No one had a deeper sense of the value of history and the historical past than Tagore. Yet, and equally, he had an ability to think through the horizon of the future: to imagine India and the world's future possibilities in terms at once universalist as well as rooted in the particularities of myriad cultures. For him, patriotism and cosmopolitanism were twin commitments.

Engaging with both scholarly audiences and the wider public, the primary impetus for the Centre is to develop the spirit embodied in Tagore's long engagement with ideas and culture from across the globe, an engagement that would take him from Argentina to Japan, while always remaining rooted in his natural haven, Santiniketan. The Centre provides a platform for inquiry into the global and universal implications of India's intellectual traditions, while also fostering engagement between diverse traditions of thought, in order to prompt new ideas and conversations; and its activities highlight the ways in which Indian and South Asian ideas have long played an important role in global intellectual life.

 

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