SONGSOPTOK: Most Bengalis are introduced to Rabindranath through ‘Sahaj Paath’. With that introduction, people become familiar with him in their own ways.  Can you share with us how you developed that relationship?
ANINDA:  Obviously  with  that….. my   pisi  used  to  teach me drawings  of  sahaj path  and  kisholoy

SONGSOPTOK:   If we analyze carefully, we will see a gradual unfolding of Rabindranath in us through different stages of our life, from childhood to adulthood. We may not be prepared for this evolution, but Rabindranath leads us through this developmental process to the blooming of our lives. Can you share with us how your personal development was influenced by Rabindranath?
ANINDA:  In my  Bengali  medium school  Rabindranath   was  central  focus…. Modernity  meant  Rabi  Tagore  n  Shaniniketan…  Cousin sisters  of  mine n my friends studied there….it  was  common to  do  MA in musicology  from  Rabindra University.  Nazrul , Rajani  Atul, Dijendra  geetis   were  not  so common. In Films ,   film songs ,  dramas  , plays ,  we  were  encircled  by  Tagore in all  fields

SONGSOPTOK: Which aspect of Rabindranath most impacted your young adulthood?
ANINDA:  His  modernity.  In all  matters  of life  , as I started  competing  in debates…  and  college  fests…  Xavotsav , Caledonia Milieu, Sanskriti,  in most  programs  Rabi  carried  me along. It  is  in Jamshedpur  that I tasted  Nazrul  in all  localities..  in my  successes n  failures , he  was d best  director

SONGSOPTOK:  How would you explain the rediscovery of Rabindranath at different phases of life? Won’t you agree that this rediscovery is a consequence of journeying with him? Or do you feel that this rediscovery happens mostly at the intellectual level instead  of being soul-bound?
ANINDA: Why  me?  World  has done  that …IPTA  stars were  doing  Tagore  plays.. Ray , Mrinal  , Ghatak were  embracing  him…. But  Samaresh, Sunil  ,   &  left inclinations  started  blowing d  lid   off  Tagore…

SONGSOPTOK:  Which aspect of Rabindranath attracts you most and why?
ANINDA:  His  philosophy n  philanthropy,  his  interests  in all  subjects,  an unparalleled all  rounder in talent  in  art, novels, stories poetry, music, humanitarian history  n  treatises…..And  d  only  saint  to create  vedic Shantiniketan  with all  lingua , religions,  castes….an  equal  opportunity  edn instn

SONGSOPTOK:   Can you comment on the influence of Rabindranath in your personal life and on your cultural engagements?
ANINDA:  From 1984   when  in Scottish  Church  I found   d  new  names   in Bengali  literature.. & started discovering  talents beyond  Tagore  , mostly  leftists. I  love  Gora , Vimala, Ela,  Binodini,   but   started  loving  Brecht  , Gogol, Shlokov, Gorky, Chekov   ,  other  than Sarat Chandra,  &  Bazar  patrika’s  brain eaters…

SONGSOPTOK:  We are all aware of the immense influence that Rabindranath exerts on the modern Bengali society. However, the guidance that he provided about societal development has not been pursued. He emphasized rural economic self-reliance. He wanted to establish cooperative system as a way to counter capitalism. We chose to ignore his views. How would you address this topic?
ANINDA:  Totally Disagree…  Apart from non  Band  songs n ganasangeets,  Rabindrasangeet  holds a pivotal  role  in Bengalees ’ music spectrum.  But growing fad  for such new genre music has depleted  d value of traditional  Rabindra sangeet  among  youth.  But, again, Rabindra sangeets’  newer  versions  are  flooding market & bands & film-songs.. with a lot of experiments. Also, surprisingly, traditional classical  ones  are flowing as a 3rd alternative with lots of patronage.
What is crucial to note is that  in other  arenas , the scenario was  quite contrary.  In literature of modern Bengal, there are 2 parallel currents—a) brain washing  bazaar lineage literature &  b) ultra-modern / post-modern literature with ultra-left leaning.  Pandavless  Bengal was first to bathe in Reneissance, so development  of  Bengali modernism has always been dynamic n progressive  n devoid of rightist  / religious conservatisms  .
Coming to cooperative movement, Gandhi’s influence in Bengal was  limited owing  to excessive leftist militant leanings  of  youth since Yugantar  & Kshudiram days and  further advent of  Manavendra Roy, Rashbehari Bose & Forward Block of Netaji. Coop movement in Bengal emanated from Soviet model & a bit of Chineese model.  Tagore’s  idea in this regard emanated from Gandhi & Tolstoy,  which had  limited acceptance in Bengal. So, Dr Bidhan Roy’s  Bengal had its lion’s share  of  Nehru-Mahalnabish  USSR  model  implemented , with joint sector & a very major  public sector &   very  little Gandhism followed  with  Ajoy Mukherjee, Prafulla Ghosh & Prafulla  Sen , owing to  too much of  central dominance of  Soviet model & its sheer influence.
In fact, self-reliance n  coop  movement  in Bengal were  gifted  by Benoy Choudhury . Bengal  got the British advantage of  highest no of industries &  Hindu capital  despite nil resources. And  a  lot of  manpower  influx from neighboring states to  the hinterland;  which  decayed  due to  technological depreciations . Bengal  got no Dr Yusuf  &  Dr  Sen ‘s  eco version had  ltd application in  Bengal.
In short, pure Gandhian isolation is a myth unsustainable.  Too premature  to succeed.

SONGSOPTOK: There is another issue that Rabindranath unequivocally championed – the importance of mother language in education! He argued that children should be instructed only in their mother tongues till the age of twelve. On the other hand, Bengali parents would like to send their children to English-medium schools if they can afford to do so. What is your opinion on this issue?
 ANINDA: Again , the impact came from Reneissance &  dominance of British in Bengalee  elite’s  cult n mindset…  Bengali  is not Hindi  &  whatever Left Front did in Tagore’s  line was half- hearted… Unlike  in Hindi, there are hardly  any good  book in most of medical ,engg,  CA/ ICWA / ICSI / MBA / law etc etc. Whatever  be the  tune, that happened in  Bangladesh.  So, unlike  China/ Korea/ Europe, mother tongue did  not flourish.  Since when  English of worst standard  started being taught wef class VI, Bengalees  as  IAS / IFS/ IRS  / IIT / IIM have depleted  drastically , and  plenty  of JU  masters  cannot compete in English in national arena.  In Hindi belt , max of aforesaid u can have in  Hindi. But  our CU / Presidency Univ  have relegated  to much lower rank   over  3 decades  of decay.

SONGSOPTOK: We are all too enamored about globalization, yet we lack interest to (re)introduce Rabindranath globally. What is your opinion? How and who can be trusted with that responsibility?
 ANINDA: Why  do u need that? Personally  I feel it meaningless  to see a  lot of research in Ramkrishnaism / Tagorism. Already  so many  are flocking to Visva Bharati from China/ Japan/ Korea/ Bangladesh… Both Rabindra Bharati &  Visva Bharati  can be entrusted with the  task  of reglorifying  not just brand Tagore but  the whole of Bengal ethos.. Feel,  Indian Embassies  in all  countries  should walk extra mile  to spread   messages  of  Vivekananda & Rabindranath together , the way  they propagated  Nehruism  during  60  years  of  Congress  rule.  In an Irreligious  way, maybe , an enriched Visva Bharati ( Central Univ) can propagate  teachings of  &  researches in  Tagore, Patel, Maulana Azad, Ambedkar  & other cult figures… Why Tagore alone???

SONGSOPTOK:   Is Rabindranath’s relevance among the younger generations on the decline? If so, what is the cause of that?
ANINDA:  Already addressed .  How many  of Bengalees  world over know Tagore??  There  should be associations to address  that. Now, how many know Khalil Zibran / Octavio Paaz / William Golding???   Owing  to saint’s  self-started  Shantiniketan ,  too many people  know him more world over  compared  to many Nobel Laureates.  But , 3 decades  of leftism spread  Soviet literature  at throw away prices ,  &  Pragati Prakashan  became a  household name .  If Tagore  has  to assume  that level of  reach,  Harper Collins  to Oxford to  Penguin  , with some govt /  pvt  support,  need  to do that world over.

SONGSOPTOK:    Rabindranath emphasized the need to develop egalitarian views instead of egocentric ones. Unfortunately, we as a society are receding into our impenetrable egotistic armor. How much has this behavior impacted you?
ANINDA:  This  is because  of  death of socialism.  Lack of cultural revolution &  socialist revolution created   Leftist elitist also as a part of Bourgeoisie. Since  there  is no self-satisfaction, there is no  egalitarianism  either in Visva Bharati , or among Tagorist  elites.

SONGSOPTOK: What is your optimism about the relevance of Rabindranath in Bengal of the future generations?
ANINDA: If  Tagorism is  relevant , it shall sway, & bloom.  No need  to  beat the  drum n blow d conch  for that  so vigorously.  Rest, I have already answered .



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