Rs 150 crore for development of Visva Bharati

New Delhi: As a tribute to Rabindranath Tagore on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary, the government today announced a grant of Rs 150 crore to the Nobel Laureate`s abode — Visva Bharati University — for restoring it to its old glory. On the closing day of the year-long celebrations to mark the anniversary that saw a flurry of activities both in India and outside, the government said the first `Tagore International Award` would be presented to sitar maestro Pandit Ravishankar.

Announcing Ravishankar`s name, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Ravishankar would receive the award that carries a cash prize of Rs 1 crore and citation from the President of India at a ceremony later. Leaders from India and Bangladesh, whose national anthems were penned by the poet, paid rich tributes to Tagore as Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said he would continue to inspire "every Bengali" at every point of life.

Mukherjee and Moni quoted extensively from Tagore`s work, especially the much-aclaimed Gitanjali, to drive home their point that the Nobel Laureate was a "global citizen" who was firmly rooted in the world of sight, clour and sound.

"I am happy to announce Rs 150 crore will be granted to Visva Bharati University to revive and restore the glory of this great institution founded by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore," Mukherjee said at the closing ceremony of celebrations of 150th birth anniversary of Tagore. Vice President Hamid Ansari said Tagore was a multifaceted genius whose creativity spanned every form of artistic expression and his concerns ranged from global and universalist ones to practical and mundane issues.