In handing over the award, President Kovind said on Monday in New Delhi that cooperation between India and Bangladesh in recent years in connectivity and developmental projects and in people-to-people engagement is blessed by the ethos of Gurudev, as Tagore is referred to in India.
Chhayanaut President Sanjida Khatun received the award, which carries Rs 1 crore, a citation and an exquisite handicraft item, at a function held at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra.
Kovind said Chhayanaut has promoted and preserved the works and philosophy of Tagore in Bangladesh.
“The common cultures of Bangladesh and India in West Bengal and beyond, forge a bond across boundaries. Just as Tagore’s poetry inspires Indians, it inspires the people of Bangladesh.”
Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Culture Mahesh Sharma.
The Indian head of state said “this award is a celebration of Indian traditions of culture and of our civilisational wealth whether in literature or music, art or drama, sculpture or handicrafts, design or digital art. Each region in our country has a distinct cultural identity. Yet, in its essence, culture does not divide – it unites and harmonises all of India and all of humanity”.
Modi said Tagore’s poem “Aamar Sonar Bangla” is the identity of Bangladesh and commended Chhayanaut for further cementing the cultural affinity between India and Bangladesh.
“Chhayanaut’s humanism and cultural values reflect Tagore’s thoughts. I congratulate Chhayanaut on their winning the award,” he said.
Modi said Tagore was above all political boundaries and dedicated himself to nature and humanity.
"Tagore considered the world as his home. Even today, every Afghan recounts his short story Kabuliwala and Gurudev’s name is associated with many cities in the world and many universities in the world have chairs after him,” the prime minister added.
Modi recalled his own visit as well as that of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Santiniketan for the convocation of Viswa Bharati University and inauguration of Bangladesh Bhavan on the campus there in April last year.
He said, “it is seldom that Prime Ministers of two countries are present at the convocation of a university.”
“Culture is the lifeline of a country and gives strength to its identity and existence. The honour and longevity of a country are shaped by the strength in a country’s experience and cultural roots,” Modi said.
In her award acceptance speech which began with a Tagore song, Sanjida Khatun said Chhayanaut was honoured to receive the recognition named after Tagore from the Indian government.
“You have given us more than an award. You have inspired us to continue to pass on our cultural heritage and strive for fellowship and harmony,” she said.
The Tagore award for Cultural Harmony was introduced in 2012 and the first two recipients were sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar and composer Zubin Mehta in 2012 and 2013.