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Ninety-seven years ago, Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European to have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1913. Tagore’s genius was truly multifaceted – he was at once a poet, a playwright, a novelist, a painter, a composer, a philosopher and an ardent social critic who spoke vehemently against colonialism and injustice. He is the author and composer of the national anthems of both India and Bangladesh.
Yet, the enthusiasm with which Tagore’s works were received in early twentieth century has almost entirely ‘disappeared’ from the West. As his 150th birth anniversary nears in 2011, Tagore remains largely unknown to audiences in North America, particularly to the youth.
Joining me today to talk about the legacy of Tagore and his continued relevance in the 21st century is Ananya Mukherjee Reed, Professor in Political Science, International Development and Social and Political Thought at York University and the Director of the International Secretariat for Human Development and the Director of the South Asian Studies Program at York.