Thursday, 30 April 2020

Indian politics and statues of modern leaders - 01

Ex. TN  CM. K.Kamarajar, a great freedom fighter destinationinfinity.org
Statues  and memorials  connect us with the great people of by-gone era  and symbolize their contribution and  deeds  they left behind in the society; the young generation may take inspiration from them.   Such past narratives make us build  commemoration to  great patriots, and revered political leaders who left a lasting impression on all sections of the society,  eminent administrators, artists, musicians and others.  Example: great patriots like  Tilak, Gandjiji, Patel, Netaji Bose, Rajaji, Kamarajar,  Muthuramalinga Thevar, et al;  they were all doyens during the freedom movement and worked for the welfare of the nation and its people.   No doubt such statues or memorials form part of our history and culture.  

Lord Curzon, a great and capacious British administrator during the Raj, who was quite disappointed over the absence  of a memorial in Mysore for Diwan  late Sir K. Seshadri Iyer, whose contribution to the Mysore Kingdom was vast, said, ''I hold strongly to the view that the deeds and services of great men  should be honored by public commemoration  in the places where they served, not merely as a posthumous compliment to themselves, but as  an example and stimulus to others.''
The south Indian state of Tamil Nadu takes the credit of having the largest number of statues of modern political leaders.  There is a Tamil saying ''Kovil ellatha ooril kudierrukka vendam' 'meaning  ''do not live in a place where there is no temple''.  Present situation is such that '' it is difficult  for a man to live in a place - even in small villages  in TN where there is no political statue. Atleast you will see the bust of a favorite leader haphazardly set on a poorly planned pedestal.   Erecting  of statues of  well known modern political leaders has been around in Tamil Nadu  since  early  1970 and the trend has caught up with other states  in later years. When I was a kid my dad took me took the park st some cities and towns. Only at some public places such as parks or gardens I saw the statue of Gandhiji or Nehru  with a proper roof over it. 

In the past two decades or so in the northern state there has been an explosion of statues of political leaders who were invariably reformists.  As long as such statues are erected in private places 
or in public parks far removed from heavy road traffic, it is well 
and good,  provided they must be properly made and periodically maintained by  parties.   The statues of politicians have become an essential part of  many states in India and the aim is to remind the people the popularity of their leader and their strong hold in that area. 
As for such modern memorials,  construction does  involve  violation of environmental rules  if they are  located near sanctuaries, on or near river beds, or just off vulnerable  coastal areas. The  sad commentary is politicians have a monopoly over building monuments and statues according to their whims without taking public opinion into account. There is no question of any referendum on this matter. There are rarely statues  for eminent educationists, scientists,  musicians, old traditional dancers, women  reformers, etc. 
Statue of  late CM Jayalalitha, Chennai,  AIADMK leader  mid-day.com
Above image:  Carefully made bronze statue of Ms. Jayalalitha installed in the recent past before the party HQ in Chennai. She  was the former CM of Tamil Nadu and a dynamic leader of AIADMK party.  She  started out  as a successful movie actress in many languages and was a polyglot........................

With some exceptions many of these  political statues  are not inspiring and made and erected in haste. No importance is given to aesthetics.  Unlike western countries or any other developing nations,  we do not take the erection of statues seriously.  In the European and American cities you will find aesthetically built statues with memorials that enhance the beauty of the area with a small properly landscaped garden around it. In many cities such well maintained  nice statues attract lots of tourists.  In this respect  we do not celebrate the  modern history the way many other countries  build statues  with meticulous care. These statues lack workmanship, details of dress and facial expression, etc. I seldom ran into a beautiful and inspiring marble statue of Indian leaders  in TN like  that of Queen Victoria in Bangaluru or King George V in Delhi made by the famous British sculptor  Leonard Jennings.

As for the quality of most of these  statues, the less said, the better. They, with exceptions, are not known to have any ethical value  or sculptural finesse and  look drab  and unimpressive with no life; another blot is  they are not proportionately made. Neither  marble nor polished granite stone is used to make such statues.
tallest statue, Sardar patel, freedom fighter Gujarat  deccanherald.com
Above image:  Tallest statue in the world. Freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhai Patel. 182 meter tall statue built at a cost of Rs. 2389 crore. It was declared open by PM Modiji in April 2019. It was not built to spite Nehru or any other leader.  Being a man of nerves and wisdom Patel  united all Indian princely states and suppressed terrorism where ever it raised its ugly head.............

Patel's  tallest statue, Gujarat.www.pinterest.com
The latest trend in the erection of  statues of freedom fighters is the  size;  the taller they are,  the more will be the impact on the people. Taking a cue from PM Modiji's giant statue project - tall  statue Sardar Vallabhai Patel  in Gujarat called   ''the Statue of Unity'',  political leaders across India already already expressed their intention to  embark on  building  giant statues  with a competitive spirit.
The CM of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath  has a proposal for  a gigantic Ram statue on the banks of the river Sarayu in Ayodhya, where the Hindu God is believed to have been born. The statue will be 151 m tall plus 50 m base - the total height of the statue is higher than  Patel's  statue. Shiv Sena and others have a tall statue  erected by the end of 2021. it will be  - 126 m tall just off the coast of Mumbai on a man-made island  with 86 m tall pedestal base.