Mamata Banerjee unveils Vidyasagar's bust in Kolkata

Published: Jun 11, 2019, 14:32 IST | mid-day online desk

The bust of Vidyasagar, a 19th-century social reformer, was vandalised in clashes between BJP and TMC workers at Vidyasagar College during BJP president Amit Shah's roadshow on May 14

Mamata Banerjee unveils Vidyasagar's bust in Kolkata
Mamata Banerjee. Pic/PTI

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday unveiled a bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar at the Hare School ground in an event which was attended by Trinamool Congress leaders, ministers in the West Bengal government, as well as some spiritual leaders.

The event was to mark the unveiling of social-reformer Vidyasagar's bust. As per the event schedule, the unveiled bust will now be taken from here to Vidyasagar college where it will be re-installed at the same place where a similar statue was broken in May during a political clash. Moreover, the TMC chief will march to Vidyasagar College to participate in the re-installation event of the bust.

The bust of Vidyasagar, a 19th-century social reformer, was vandalised in clashes between BJP and TMC workers at Vidyasagar College during BJP president Amit Shah's roadshow on May 14.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on May 16, promised to build a grand 'panch dhatu' (traditional five-metal alloys of sacred significance) statue of Vidyasagar at the same spot where the old one stood before being vandalised. Mamata Banerjee, however, publically denied the proposal by asserting that her state has got enough money to make the structure.

According to West Bengal Information and Cultural Department, events related to re-installation of the bust today are being organised by the state's Higher Education and School Education Department in collaboration with the committee for the 200th birth anniversary of Vidyasagar.

Vidyasagar, who has brought great reforms in the Indian society, is often touted as a man who was ahead of his time. Mostly recalled for his contribution in introducing concepts of widow-remarriage in the traditional society, he is referred to as a philosopher, writer, reformer, printer, and philanthropist.

He was most influential in campaigning for widow-remarriage and fought against many traditionalists to get an act passed in its favour. He invoked scriptures, did print campaigns and engaged in debates to get his point across.

It was with his continuous efforts that the Widow Remarriage Act was passed in July 1856 and the first such documented marriage also took place in Kolkata. Vidyasagar was also instrumental in spreading awareness against the practice of polygamy prevalent in some sections of higher casts of society.

Before getting into social reforms, Vidyasagar had already devoted a large part of his life in refining the Bengali education sector. As an educator at Sanskrit College, Fort William College and founder of the Metropolitan Institution, he is credited with introducing a fixed routine and the concept of weekly offs in the education system.

Metropolitan College was later renamed as Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar College, the place where its founder's bust was smashed in May this year.

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