Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Unsung Queen Vctoria's statue, New Delhi

unseen Queen Victoria's statue in Delhi.

Queen Victoria, Wikipedia. org.
Above image: Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India................

I have a fascination for Queen Victoria's statues in India. The sculptors  have done a good job, taking meticulous care about every detail. Her posture, irresistible aura, penetrating look, gait, her royal regalia, the way the sceptre is held, etc., all these  make her statue come alive before you.  There are Queen Victoria's statues in Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Vizhagapatnam and in Mathura. Until I came across an article in the Hindu dated 15 June 2014 recently I  realized India's capital did  have her  statue  in a public place and after independence in 1947 it was removed from the original place and ultimately settled in a Delhi Arts College room far removed from the public eye. 

We learn about our past history  mainly from Monuments that carry the unknown hidden facts of an early period. Such monuments and memorials should not be disturbed and shifted from one place to another according to the whims and fancies of  politicians and parties in power. By the same token, such old monuments need to  be taken care of periodically  so that they last  longer. In this respect, both the state and central governments  should take serious steps to protect the monuments from vandalism, encroachments, etc by putting solid fence around them and introduce certain laws and regulations to safeguard them.  
Queen Victoria.

Can you imagine a beautiful  statue of Queen Victoria (in sitting posture), the Empress of India (1876-1901) is lying un-cared for and un-named in obscurity at Delhi College of Arts? The pathetic fact is it has been kept in a corner of a room in the college room for a pretty long period unsung and unseen by public.  It shows how time and tide can shape  the fate of a ruler and her name. Once she held  an exalted status  and gained the respect of her people and British colonies. Now, she is in the pages of Indian History unsung.  As far as India is concerned she has become a forgotten figure. She was the only female monarch of any country to rule for a record period of 63 years. The statue in Delhi was vandalized by hooligans and anti-social elements and, besides,  was covered with a thick coat of bird droppings. To avoid further abuse to the statue of the English Queen, the authorities decided to put her in a place where she would remain anonymous and undisturbed.
 It is a bronze statue,specially made to commemorate her accession as Empress of India in 1876, sitting majestically on a high throne with all her glory, flowing gown and crown. Her statue was near the Town Hall in Chandni Chowk, and after India's independence the statue was moved over to the Coronation Park to give company to a galaxy of other colonial statues mostly Viceroys who ruled India for the Crown, including that of the statue of George V (who was moved from India Gate). In Town hall  Queen Victoria's  place was taken over by one

Swami Shradhanand.
Swami Shradhanand

 Above image: Swami Shraddhanand (1856–1926),  was an Indian educationist and an Arya Samaj missionary who propagated the teachings of Dayananda Saraswati. He played a a major role on the Sangathan (consolidation) and the Shuddhi (re-conversion), a Hindu reform movement in the 1920s. On 23 December 1926 he was assassinated by a Muslim named Abdul Rashid,who entered his home at Naya Bazar, Delhi, by posing as a visitor. In sawmiji's honor a statue of him was placed in front of Delhi Town Hall after independence, replacing a statue of Queen Victoria. .....................

The Coronation Park was the place where, the greatest show on earth -  Delhi Durbar  (1911) took place. It was here the visiting British monarch made a declaration about  shifting of the Capital from Calcutta to Delhi. The Durbar was held  with great pomp and show under the direction of Lord Curzon to commemorate the coronation of George V and Queen Mary as the Emperor and Empress of India in Britain a few months ago.  At the Delhi College of Arts and out side the campus, both the students and the public have no idea  whatsoever about the  colonial  statue. This is quite true in many places across India. In Chennai, there is a beautiful equestrian statue of Thomas Munro in a prime area. People from the present generation are least interested in this statue and the good deeds done by Munro. It all shows how ignorant our people are  about the colonial history of India. As to 
their awareness of ancient Indian history, they exhibit the same ignorance.