OREANDA-NEWS. Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that it has presented Sudhir Kakar with the third Merck-Tagore Award in Kolkata, India. The Indian psychoanalyst and writer is being recognized for his contribution to intercultural exchange between India and Germany. In numerous landmark works, Kakar has analyzed the society of the subcontinent from a psychoanalytical perspective, thereby reflecting upon the spiritual soul of India.

In his speech at the Goethe Institut in Kolkata, Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board and the Family Board of E. Merck KG, explained how literature helps to build bridges between cultures as follows, “Literature inspires us and opens the door to new, unknown worlds – across cultures and continents. It can also help to shift mental boundaries.”
Merck launched the Merck-Tagore Award in 2011 to mark the 150th birthday of Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941), an Indian poet and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The jury comprised one representative each from the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan India, the German Federal Foreign Office and Merck Limited [India]. Merck has a close historical link to the writer Rabindranath Tagore. Elisabeth Wolff-Merck, a member of the Merck family, translated “Chitra”, a theater piece by Tagore, from English into German. Her husband, Kurt Wolff, published Tagore’s works in Germany, helping the poet to achieve great fame.

Merck sees the promotion of literature as part of its social responsibility. In addition to health and the environment, culture is a strategic sphere of activity of the company’s sustainability efforts. The Merck-Tagore Award is one of five literature prizes that Merck currently awards or promotes worldwide. Building bridges between cultures is also at the forefront of the literature awards in Japan (Merck Kakehashi Prize) and Russia. In Germany, Merck sponsors the Johann Heinrich Merck Award for Literary Critique and Essay. With the Premio Letterario, Merck recognizes authors in Italy who build bridges between literature and science with their works.

Sudhir Kakar, who was born in 1938 in northern India, initially studied mechanical engineering in India and business economics in Mannheim, Germany before training as a psychoanalyst at the Sigmund-Freud Institute in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He taught and worked at Harvard and Princeton as well as in Berlin and Paris before setting up a practice as a psychoanalyst in New Delhi. In 1978, Kakar achieved international acclaim with “The Inner World: A Psychoanalytic Study of Hindu Childhood and Society”. In 2007, he wrote “The Indians: Portrait of a People”. Featuring in-depth insights into the social and cultural characteristics that form the Indian identity, this book has become a standard work. Today, Kakar lives with his German wife Katharina Poggendorf-Kakar in Goa, India.