Friday, March 16, 2012

Sea, Shivaji & Pride

By Shriram Khadilkar

After a three-four year follow up on all fronts, the Shivaji Maharaj giant statue project in the Arabian Sea stands abandoned.

It was around mid-2008, that the government of Maharashtra announced its ambitious venture of an 'international memorial' for the Maratha king, Shivaji Maharaj; proposing its location around a kilometre off Marine Drive, overlooking Malabar Hill and Nariman Point in South Mumbai, India.

Panoramic View of Marine Drive
The project was started with the hunt for a suitable competent company that could execute the necessary construction for a project based in the sea. 
The funny part was that the authorities that were, had decided to install a 309 feet tall statue of Shivaji Maharaj astride a horse. Why not 300 or 310 feet?  And why sitting on a horse?  Couldn’t our Shivaji Maharaj be standing on a ship? The decision-makers seem to have overlooked the fact that the Maratha King had a very strong wing of Navy under the able leadership of the great warrior Kanhoji Angre. This is a very strong line of thought that merits prime consideration. After all, when we think of a large project, purely in public interest, it must, foremost, gel with the ambiance or environment! 
Now, that the project is at zero degree ground level due to objection taken by Central Govt. Ministry of Forests & Environment, and the government of Maharashtra has to rethink the positioning of this memorial, shouldn’t this blessing in disguise call for a wise and fine vision?

Not only must the location be decent and undisputed, but possibly only those bureaucrats must be involved in the new project, who sustain a vision of art and acknowledge the import of creativity.

An appropriate course of action would perhaps be to first approach some eminent sculptors of Maharashtra and explain the finer details of the project to them; instead of floating a tender for construction.  It might also be helpful if the stalwarts proposed a model before the Govt. could move the project further.

The raison d'ĂȘtre for such a suggested move is that we really do not have any sculptors who have the requisite experience of working on a 309 feet sculpture.  It would greatly aid the project, if many more sculptors would join hands on this project and the Govt. could make available technical support of the masters, who have the experience of creating huge sculptures. This would pronounce a two-fold benefit: several young sculptors would garner firsthand knowledge of the process of casting and creating a large sculpture and secondly, a memorial of fine blend of aesthetics and expertise could adorn our shores.

After all, the great Maratha King Shivaji Maharaj is an all time inspiration to every Indian. The name Shivaji Maharaj is connected with our nationalism. A project of this magnitude will not only be the pride of Mumbai, Maharashtra but of our nation.                                                                     


  1. interesting read...
    a national pride :)

  2. I think if you realize that this is not an artistic project but a political project then your approach can be refined from there. It seems that the artistic considerations truly are secondary to the nature and purpose of this project and if one wanted to pursue making this happen then it really is about a political campaign. To me political art like this may be fine art but first and foremost they are objects of political propaganda (which is not a insult, just the nature of the object).
    Posted by Larry Leventhal on linkedin Group: Open Art Collection Network.

  3. Remember your art can burn a hole in any bureaucracy. If you intend for it to, Germany was a bunch of waring city states till a monument united them. After Napoleon
    Posted by Dan Deming in LinkedIn Group: Art n Soul Inc.- Creating Opportunities for Artists

  4. One can draw a point of connect between the true appreciation of artistic talent and the vagaries of bureaucracy by the agenda(s) of the bureaucracy and the actual supportiveness directed.
    Posted by Timothy Roepe on LinkedIn Group: Art Marketing

  5. There is no connect between the true appreciation of artistic talent and the vagaries of bureaucracy; the children learn from their parents and their school teachers; it is in their hands, and not always the hands of the people qualified to even begin to judge art. And given the present climate of informed illiteracy we do not seem to be able, either to draw any lines, save those in our own consciousness.

    I will add a tale of a statue too later Ann.

    Posted by Ann Waddicor on LInkedIn Group: Medieval and Renaissance Art, Antiques, Architecture, Archaeology and History

  6. True appreciation of artistic talent is a result of observation, experience, education and an innate understanding of creativity in all human activity - political, bureaucratic, commercial, aesthetic, religious, philosophical, scientific... these facets of our existence are not mutually exclusive of appreciation of artistic talent - rather they exist because of it, talent being a special or natural aptitude for any given ability to create.

    The vagaries of bureaucracy are a result of the attempt to control people and resources - some who aspire to take advantage because they can, and others who wish to help the less fortunate.

    The connect is that artistic talent is employed by vague bureaucracies to both control and encourage cultural expression. Art that requires broad collaboration builds a sense of belonging within communities, often the price is that the statement is only acceptable to those support and/or directly benefit from the project. Not unlike any other public endeavor, the end "justifies" the means... the process is inherently unfair, but unavoidable, because power and money are involved.

    To sum it up - neither appreciation of artistic talent or vague bureaucracies are result of equality among us, but they are both realities and tools of cultural advancement / the evolution of mankind.

    Your question begs the next, how do we cultivate appreciation of artistic talent within a vague bureaucratic context? - By encouraging everyone to explore their own artistic talent and values in creative environments that are as independent of such bureaucracies as possible.

  7. Dear All,
    The above 2-3 comments are in response to our oipen forum on Linked In Groups where we questioned - How does one draw a point of connect between the true appreciation of artistic talent and the vagaries of bureaucracy?

    Thank you for the responses. Do keep the discussion growing.
    Admin.India Art n Design


  9. I agree with you , We have seen enough statues of Shivaji on the Horse . He was the first king to have vision about building a strong Navy.
    Dr. Kumudini Mangaokar


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