“Tagore’s Mother Would Not Hold Him In Her Arms Because He Was ‘Dark-Skinned’: Row Over Minister’s Remark

Minister Subhas Sarkar said that Rabindranath Tagore’s mother discriminated against him because he was “dark”.

Rabindranath Tagore is in the news for quite an unusual reason, Union Minister Subhas Sarkar has controversially commented on the Nobel laureate’s skin complexion and said that his mother treated him differently because of it.

During a visit to Visva Bharati University that was founded by Tagore, Mr Sarkar said that the Nobel laureate’s mother discriminated against him because he was “dark”. The colour of his skin, was a “darker, more reddish shade of fair than the rest of the family”, added the minister.

“Tagore’s mother and some other relatives would not hold him in their arms because he was ‘dark-skinned’,” the minister claimed.

“There are two types of fair skinned people. One that are very fair with a yellowish hue and those who are fair but with a reddish tinge. Kabiguru belonged to the second category,” he was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

These comments have triggered an uproar from experts and admirers of Tagore, and also rival politicians who labelled the education minister as an ‘illiterate’.

Also read: “Nationalism Is A Great Menace.”: Remembering Rabindranath Tagore On His Birth Anniversary

“No idea on what basis the Hon’ble minister made such comments. Don’t know if he has read biographies of Tagore thoroughly or whether he understood the spirit of these writings properly. Tagore was not of dark complexion though people like his elder sister had described him as Rabi, our dark-complexioned boy. This was an exaggeration. Did the minister mean to say Rabindranath was as dark as Africans? Or he meant he had a complexion that was somewhat between fair and dark,” former Rabindra Bharati University Vice-Chancellor Pabitra Sarkar said.

The Trinamool Congress also reacted sharply, accusing him of insulting the icons of Bengal. Senior TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee said, “Subhas Sarkar is not aware of history. By all accounts, it is well known that Rabindranath Tagore was fair skinned. This is a racist comment (by the minister) and an insult to the icons of Bengal. Subhas Sarkar should not be allowed to enter Viswa-Bharati ever again.”

In addition to him, CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said such comments only reflect the “racist and anti-Bengali mindset of the BJP”.

The university students have also criticised Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty who was part of the event.

However, the BJP supported the union minister and said his comments were taken out of context. “Subhas Sarkar has neither said anything against Rabindranath Tagore nor his family. He has spoken against discrimination on the basis of the colour of skin. His comments were not at all intended to insult anyone. The TMC should stop politicising just everything,” state BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said.



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