Germany's long-standing interaction with India has reached a new high with staff and students of a school in the former East Berlin district deciding to rename their institution after Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Oberchule an der Weide, a gymnasium school offering education up to 13th grade, has nearly 1,000 students and 65 teachers. The story of renaming the school after Tagore began in 2004 when students came across his personality and work as part of a project on major international personalities.
Impressed with Tagore, the students conducted further research and involved themselves in India Day celebrations organised by the Indian embassy on September 30, 2004. They presented a series of lectures, cultural programmes and presentations on Tagore.
The school management later debated on the name for nearly one year. As per local custom, which gives discretion to students and teachers on the school's name, the management decided to change the name of the school as Tagore School. The local authorities have ratified the decision.
The formal inauguration of the school's new incarnation was attended by Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar and several prominent Indians and Germans, including the mayor of borough Marzahn-Hellersdorf (in Berlin) and Ravindra Gujjula, the Indo-German mayor of Altlandesberg.
A Tagore bust, sculpted by Gautam Paul, was installed in the school's premises while German students presented songs, music and a mock interview with Tagore on the occasion.
Meera Shankar recalled Tagore's contribution to the field of art, music, literature and theatre and pointed out how his work had left a deep imprint on nearly every aspect of Indian life.
"Today Tagore does not belong to India alone; he belongs to the whole world," she said, adding that the philosophy of humanism practised and propagated by the acclaimed writer and poet had made him a world citizen.
In February 2004, the Indian Government had presented a Tagore bust made by Gautam Paul to the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, which stands prominently in the premier institute's premises.
Tagore had evoked much interest in Germany during his visits in 1921, 1926 and 1930.