Kolkata: From the legendary Rabindranath Tagore to Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee discussed the state’s ‘brand ambassadors’ then and now when they met here Monday.
Banerjee presented Clinton with Nobel laureate Tagore’s books “Gitanjali” and “Gitabitan”. Clinton, who had said earlier that she had “discovered Tagore in college and have been a fan ever since”, reciprocated by presenting Banerjee a scarf with a famous Tagore song inscribed on it.
Briefing mediapersons about the nearly hour-long meeting with Clinton, Banerjee said she informed her about Tagore’s birth anniversary Tuesday.
“She told me she was aware of it and would love to read Rabindranath. I told her that I will be giving her books of Tagore as gifts. I have given her copies of ‘Gitanjali’ and ‘Gitabitan’.”
The chief minister also gave Clinton a kantha stitch scarf.
“She has also given me a small scarf which had a picture of Rabindranath and a line from his song ‘Aguner Poroshmoni Choyao Prane’. We are very happy.”
Banerjee said she told Clinton about Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary and sought her cooperation to organise a World Youth Festival.
“We have decided to create a programme on the lines of Swamiji’s famous address to a convention at Chicago. Madam Hillary told me she will talk to the mayor of Chicago. I have requested her to see if both of us (Bengal and US) can work together to commemorate Swamiji’s birth anniversary.”
Banerjee and Clinton also spoke about Shah Rukh’s popularity in the US.
“We also had a conversation over the entertainment industry. I proposed cooperation between Hollywood, Bollywood and Tollywood (Bengali film industry) for bettering the lot of the entertainment industry. She liked the idea.”.
When Banerjee said that Shah Rukh was the brand ambassador of Bengal, Clinton said the matinee idol was quite popular in the her country and had fan clubs in the US.
“She said movies of Shah Rukh are also quite popular,” Banerjee said.
Banerjee and Hillary met in two phases. They had a one-on-one as also a meeting accompanied by officials. The two leaders discussed various issues regarding development and prospects of US investment in the state.