President Patil unveils Tagore`s bust at Swiss university

Lausanne: As the world celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, President Pratibha Patil Tuesday unveiled a bronze bust of the Nobel laureate at the University of Lausanne, describing him as a "goodwill ambassador" of modern India.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed between the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the University to establish Rabindranath Tagore Chair on Indian Studies that will begin with the teaching of Hindi.

"This will add a bit of India to the rich palate that this University offers," Patil said in an address at the University`s auditorium packed with students and faculty members.

On Tagore, she said "he was not only a poet, writer, scholar, painter, educationist and philosopher but also perhaps the most able goodwill ambassador of modern India and did a lot to acquaint the world about its marvelous as well as vast and rich cultural ethos."

Patil, who drove down to the University from the country`s capital Bern, said Tagore was a great patriot and an inspiration for India`s freedom movement.

"He visited your beautiful country at the invitation of French author and philosopher Romain Rolland, who he counted among his close friends," she said.

After the bust was unveiled amidst thunderous applause from the audience, Patil plucked a rose from the bouquet kept nearby and placed it in front of the bust, taking a cue from her Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmi-Rey who did the same.

Patil said the bronze bust of the Nobel laureate at the university is not only a tribute to him but also a symbol of close ties between India and Switzerland.

The President said dreams may not always be realised fully "but we must attempt to go out as far as we can in our effort, for therein lies satisfaction, therein lies the strength of an individual."

The Indian delegation also handed over a collection of books written by and on Tagore as well as some audio-visual material.

"I am sure these will be useful in studies about India", Patil said.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla and other Members of Parliament who are part of the Indian delegation were also present.

The President will now depart for Austria on the second leg of her eight-day two-nation visit.

Before leaving for Austria, Patil will take part in a luncheon hosted in her honour by the Swiss President at the picturesque Lake Geneva.


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