'Don't just erect statues, imbibe their ideologies,' UoP senate member

The university has approved a whopping Rs 1 crore to erect a likeness of social reformer Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj, even as a statue of BR Ambedkar awaits inauguraton, while figures of Jyotiba Phule and Shivaji already dot the campus

It’s unclear, and irrelevant at this point, where the University of Pune (UoP) stands on statute of limitations, but there certainly doesn’t appear to be any ‘limitations of statues’ on the academy’s 411-acre campus.

Under cover: The statue of Dr BR Ambedkar on the university’s campus that is yet to be formally unveiled. Pic/Mohan Patil

In its recent budget announcement for the next financial year, the university management has set aside
Rs 1 crore to set up a statue of renowned social reformer Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj on its campus.

Feats of clay: The statues of Shivaji and Jyotiba Phule on UoP campus. In its recent budget announcement for the next financial year, the university management has set aside Rs 1 crore to raise a statue of renowned social reformer Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj. Pics/Mohan Patil

This when the UoP grounds are already home to imposing likenesses of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule. Dr BR Ambedkar’s statue is ready, but is awaiting a formal inauguration.

In view of this, UoP senate member Dr BG Wagh has advanced a proposal that henceforth the university should not give permission for any new statues on campus.

“Yes, I am very firm on my proposition. In the past too, at the time of discussions on setting up the Shivaji Maharaj statue, I had expressed similar views. Now, including the Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj likeness, the varsity will have four statues. Considering various aspects, such as maintenance and security of these memorials, at least now the varsity should formulate a policy of not authorising any more statues,” he said.

Speaking to mid-day, UoP vice-chancellor Dr WN Gade said, “The proposal tabled by Dr Wagh regarding not issuing approval to new statues on campus will be discussed in the next management council meeting.”

He added that the work of fixing the compound wall around all the three statues and gardening the adjacent area would start soon.

Meanwhile, another senate member, Dr Milind Wagh, opined that setting up new statues is nothing, but identity politics.

“Rather than erecting statues of great social reformers, we should make efforts to adopt their ideologies.

Unfortunately, statues have become symbols of identity, which is creating identity politics,” Wagh said.

Idol worship!

Till a couple of years ago, UoP only had the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji on it campus. Then in November 2012, a large likeness of Jyotiba Phule was inaugurated by PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal. Last year, a senate meeting gave approval to setting up of a similar statue of Dr BR Ambedkar on campus.

‘History matters’
When contacted, Dattatray Balsaraf, who had taken an initiative to set up Mahatma Phule’s statue on the campus, said, “In principle, we all are agree that taking in to consideration safety and security of statues, henceforth UoP has to fix a policy while sanctioning new statues. But, I think likenesses of these historical figures create a sanctified atmosphere on campus.”

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