Scottish centre closer for ‘India’s Robert Burns’

Tagore was the first non-white winner of the Nobel prize for literature

HE has been lauded asIndia’s Robert Burns and the Bengali Shakespeare.

And now Scottish University has moved closer to establishing Scotland’s first centre celebrating the life and works of Rabindranath Tagore.

Today (Wed) Edinburgh Napier University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), which will see a Visiting Chair in Tagore Studies established at the University.

The ICCR will also fund two PhD fellowships dedicated to researching the works of the influential Indian author, poet and songwriter whose 150th birthday has been celebrated across the world this year.

The University said the signing was a “significant step” towards opening a Scottish Centre for Tagore Studies, which it hopes will also become an international hub for promoting Indian culture, education, philosophy, art and literature.

Tagore was the first non-white Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1913 for his collection Geetanjali (“The Song Offerings”).

He wrote more than 1,000 poems and 2000 songs and his work has been translated into all the major languages of the world.

His connection with Scotland primarily came through his lasting friendship and meeting of minds with Sir Patrick Geddes, the pioneering Scottish town planer.


Tagore’s grandfather, the industrialist and entrepreneur Dwarkanath Tagore, was also honoured with the Freedom of the City award by Edinburgh in 1845.

Professor Dame Joan Stringer, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “The spirit of Rabindranath Tagore continues to inspire the entire world and it is with great honour that we sign this MoU with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

“It represents a significant step towards the opening of Scotland’s first centre for Tagore Studies at Edinburgh Napier, which we hope will attract research interest from both near and far and, in the spirit of the man himself, will be outward looking, inclusive and visionary.”

Mr. Suresh Goel, Director General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), said: “The ICCR considers this collaboration with the University to be of great importance since it will promote an academic exchange betweenIndiaand Edinburgh Napier.

“It has been the philosophy of the ICCR that this kind of co-operation contributes to the civilisation of dialogue and understanding on a much more durable basis.”

Edinburgh Napier has seen an 85 per cent rise in international student applications since 2006/2007 and a sharp increase in the number of Indian students over the last five years – there are currently nearly 700 students studying at the university.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs in the Scottish Government, said:

“Activity such as this is crucial in supporting the international competitiveness of our universities – something Education Secretary Michael Russell was keen to stress during his successful visit toIndiaearlier this month.

“Education has been identified as a priority in the Scottish Government’s India Plan and developments like this can only enhance the many links between our two countries.”