Befitting honour for apostle of peace

Befitting honour for apostle of peace

The world’s tallest statue of Mahatma Gandhi has been installed at the historic Gandhi Maidan in Patna last month

Most of the people are well aware of the fact that Mahatma Gandhi started his satyagraha (non-violent agitation) against the British from Champaran in Bihar, which was later also called Neil satyagraha (indigo moveme­nt). But what is not widely known is that when Bapu first landed in Patna on April 10, 1917 and held a proration sabha  (prayer meeting) at the north-west
corner of a ground, which later came to be known as Gandhi Maidan.

Nearly 96 years after Bapu organised a prayer meeting here, the Bihar Government has installed the world’s tallest statue of Mahatma Gandhi on a sprawling1.5 acres of land (just in front of Gandhi Sanghralaya) as a tribute to the Fatherof the Nation.

The 72-foot tall statue has been erected in two parts. The 40-foot bronze statue of Gandhiji is on a pedestal which is 32-foot high. “Mahatma Gandhi’s statues have been installed in 80 countries, with each ranging from six feet to 11 feet as most of them are either his bust or in a sitting position. In Kolkata, we have a 13-foot statue of Bapu. Besides, there is one on the Parliament campus in Delhi. But in Patna, we have installed the world’s tallest statue of Gandhiji,” Dr Razi Ahmad, secretary of Gandhi Sanghra­laya, told Deccan Herald.

Noted sculptor Ram Sutar, who is credited to have designed and crafted Gandhi’s first statue in 1948, has again done a splendid job with the help of his sculptor son Anil Sutar.

“I have already made 120 statues of Gandhiji in 80 countries. So when the Bihar government approached me with the proposal, I readily agreed,” said Sutar, who despite being 88-year-old, still enjoys his work. No wonder, he has been decorated with Padma Shri award.

“The statue of Mahatma Gandhi along with a boy and a girl embracing him inte­nds to give the message of peace, equality, brotherhood not only to the country, but also to the entire world. Tourists from across the globe flock to the State Capital. This will be an additional gift to all those who admire Bapu and follow his ideals,” said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar while unveiling the statue on February 15.

“Gandhiji showed us how to lead a life of non-violence and today’s youth should try to follow in his footsteps. The langu­age of love and non-violence can win more hearts,” he added.

Dr Razi Ahmad, who was asked by Nitish to ensure completion of this gigantic task of installing the world’s tallest statue, said: “The pedestal of the statue is sculpted with four murals with each side depicting landmark events in Gandhi’s life.”

While different stages of Champaran satyagraha (1917) have been inscribed on the northern end of the pedestal, the southern portion depicts namak satyagraha, also called Dandi March, (1930). Similarly, the western side of the pedestal depicts weaving of khadi cloth by char­kha, the events leading to Quit India movement (1942) have been inscribed on the eastern end.

Nearly 400 trained workers, including 150 masons from Jaipur and Varanasi, were roped in to complete the construction and installation of statue which is estimated to have cost Rs 7 crore. Speci­ally crafted stones from Bansi Paharpur in Rajasthan were brought in different trucks to Noida-based studio where Ram Sutar and his son completed the constru­ction of the statue.

From there, it was transported to Patna in different sets. And the final shape was eventually given at the location site where 150 workers toiled from 8 am to 11 pm even in the biting cold of December and January to meet the deadline. (Though the original deadline was January 30, the death anniversary of Gandhi, but it was eventually unveiled on the day of Basant Panchmi, February 15).

Besides, an additional amount of Rs 3.5 crore was spent by the Building Construction Department, the nodal agency to monitor the project, in making the sprawling campus of 1.5 acre look
attractive. Landscaped tastefully with plants and flowers, the statue ground is illuminated with high-power halogens during nights.

Sculptor a freedom fighter Sutar, who himself participated in Quit India movement (where he burnt his cap), said he did not find it difficult to translate the concept of statue as suggested by noted Gandhian thinker Dr Razi Ahmad because of his proximity to freedom fighters.

“I have seen Gandhiji taking a stroll at Vinoba Bhave’s ashram with Shivaji Rao Bhave and other freedom fighters. I myself participated in Quit India movement and burnt my cap,” said the octogenarian Sutar, who is still getting offers from different countries to make Gandhi’s statue.
Earlier, Sutar was also credited with making the statue of Father of the Nation of Mauritius, Sir Seosagar Ramgoolam, which has been installed at south of Gandhi Maidan in Patna. No wonder, Ram Sutar and Anil Sutar along with two Gandhians - Dr Razi Ahmad and T Sharan - were honoured during the function of unveiling of Bapu’s statue.

“The memorial encapsulating the whole concept of Indian freedom struggle would continue to inspire the coming generations and remind them of the sacrifices made by the people to achieve
Independence,” argued Dr Ahmad.

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