Sunday, Aug 07, 2022
Outlook.com
identity: statues

Bronze Age Booming

Across a fractious India, identity battles are being waged figuratively. Statues are at war.

Bronze Age Booming
Nirala Tripathi
Bronze Age Booming
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

But even as party goon-squads in Mumbai attacked Loksatta editor Kumar Ketkar’s house earlier this month, because he dared to suggest in his editorial that the crores being spent on the Shivaji statue might be better spent on tackling problems like farmer suicides, child malnutrition and unemployment in Maharashtra, another "statue drama" was taking place in Lucknow. A 12-foot bronze statue of chief minister Mayawati, which she herself had unveiled just six weeks earlier, was removed by workmen at midnight on June 1—the BSP supremo was apparently furious because it was too short, and also because her trademark handbag was missing. It was swiftly replaced with another statue, 15 feet high, and said to have cost around Rs 40 lakh.

Such commissions make sculptor Shravan Prajapati one of the busiest men in Lucknow: large parts of the city are currently being remade as Mayawati puts her stamp on it through dozens of new statues, monuments and memorial parks. Prajapati is a man for all seasons, having churned out statues for a series of UP chief ministers ear-lier. His workshop presents a surreal sight, cluttered with gigantic unfinished figures, and pairs of bronze spectacles to be put on Ambedkar statues. Not surprisingly, he is vocal in his support of Mayawati’s monumental projects: "It’s not what you read in books that matters, but what you see," he says. "Real social pride comes from building statues and monuments because you can literally see the stature your community has attained."

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