‘Tagore’s ideas on alternative education appealing to Indonesians’

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Kolkata, Jan 28 (IANS) Celebrated Indonesian author Ayu Utami Tuesday said Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s works are “appealing” to readers in her homeland due to the bard’s ideas on education that are relevant even today.

“Tagore is appealing to Indonesians as he had spoken on education and alternative forms of it. Nowadays, there are a lot of international influences in our education system and there has to be a bridging between the global methods and our own methods… Tagore therefore is important as he had spoken about these,” said Utami during a session at the third Kolkata Literary Meet here.

“Alternative form of education is a rising issue now.”

Tagore had visited Singapore, the then Malaya, Java, Borneo, Sumatra on a three and a half month southeast Asian tour July 1927 and came across educators in the Dutch East Indies as Indonesia was then known, said Utami.

“Saman”, Utami’s debut novel and widely considered her masterpiece, won first prize from the Jakarta Arts Council in 1998. It became a bestseller and has been translated into eight languages. Two of her other books are “Larung” (published in 2001), the sequel to “Saman”, and “Bilangan Fu” (2008).

She has also translated some of Tagore’s short stories for children into Bhasa Indonesia.

During Indonesia’s military regime, she was a journalist and press freedom activist. She was one of the founders of The Alliance of Independent Journalists, an organisation that was later banned by Suharto’s government. After the political change, she focused on writing novels.

On the problems that democracy is facing, Utami remarked: “Once you have democracy you can’t go back…Indonesia can’t go back to military regime.”

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