Shimla: President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday expressed concern over the moral drift which has "begun to dominate" public lives, and sought replacement of Tagore`s man of "limited purpose" with the "moral man".
Mukherjee was delivering the first Rabindranath Tagore Memorial Lecture after inaugurating the Tagore Centre for the Study of Culture and Civilisation in the precincts of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.
"Since the commercial man is an individualist, a pleasure maximiser, unconstrained by the norms governing the public interest; and if, the Tagore Centre can help in decoding what Tagore meant by `limited purpose`, map its topography, identify the processes that produce it, and give us guidance on what we could do about them, it would be a valuable contribution to our understanding of the human condition in a situation of modernity," the President said.
Upset by sense of moral drift that has "beset us and begun to dominate our public lives," the President said, "We do not seem to have exemplars, like Tagore who serve as the moral compass in uncertain times to learn from."
"We are going through troubled times and in such a phase of `moral uncertainty`, we should go back to great minds such as Tagore and assimilate his belief that wealth is not a precondition of wisdom," he said.
Tagore`s ideal of moral leadership comes not from power or riches but from ideas and truth.
Terming Tagore as a "renaissance man", Mukherjee said such men are found rarely in history and in their personality, they capture not just the times they live in but also the complex questions of the human mind, the questions that transcend locations and are pertinent for all communities across the world.
Mukherjee said that India has the responsibility of giving the world its intellectual leadership.
"India cannot be diffident about this role and time has come for us to draw from this intellectual heritage, the insights of thought and of practice that the world needs to understand," he said.