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Saturday, April 16, 2011

A tale of two statues – one to be shifted temporarily whilst the other is to be unveiled

Can you identify this statue or rather the person ??

Statues – installing them is another vestige of colonial rule.  At important road junctions,  at landmark buildings – we have statues of leaders and others lying uncared for in a state of neglect.  There are statues in a row in the Marina beach with bird droppings and dirty looks.  A few years ago in 2006 eight foot bronze statue for Villupuram Chinnaiahpillai Ganesan Manrayar [you know him well as Sivaji Ganesan] was installed in the middle of the road across Gandhi’s statue.   A freedom fighter objected the positioning stating that it would obstruct the view of the Gandhi statue and filed a PIL.   The Bench of Madras High Court which heard the case advised not to put up.  The statue was installed and for  months gun totting police stood vigil in Sun. 

In the northern State, one CM went berserk installing statues of party symbol and self and the opposition leader appealed to the Centre not to release funds to State fearing that they would create more statues. 

The statue of PT Thegaraya is in the news as it is to be temporarily shifted from the premises of Ripon building to facilitate the construction of an underground station box for the Chennai Metro Rail.   Newspaper reports state that the Engineers of the project inspected the statue to chalk out a strategy to relocate it without damaging its heritage value.  It is stated that the permission of Heritage Conservation committee of CMDA has been sought.   A piece of land including the exit and entrance of the Ripon building housing the Chennai Corporation has been demarcated temporarily to facilitate construction of multi-level Chennai Central Metro Station which would be a node for 2 metro rail corridors.  More structures on the premises could be shifted to enable completion of the project.

The Corporation of Chennai is the civic body that governs the metropolis of Chennai.  It is the oldest municipal body of the Commonwealth of Nations outside the United Kingdom  and the oldest corporation in India. It is headed by a mayor [presently Mr Subramaniam], who presides over 155 councillors each of whom represents one of the 155 wards of the city. It was in 1913 that the Corporation moved to the newly constructed Ripon Building built on the erstwhile People’s park.  It was named after Lord Ripon, Vicetoy of India from 1880 to 84, who had introduced local government reforms.
The Ripon Building is white in colour and is located near the Central station in Chennai.   Built by  Loganatha Mudaliar, the Building took four years to build at a cost of 750,000 Rupees.

P.L. Moore was the President of the Municipal Corporation at the time of inauguration.  Old timers in Madras would remember that the complex near Central abutting Ripon building was known as ‘Moore market’ and housed hundreds of shops dealing in old treasure of books, and all other items.    It housed the zoo also, which was later shifted to Vandalur.   Other than the Ripon building, there is the town of  Riponpet in the Shivamogga district in the state of Karnataka and a street named after him in Kolkatta. .

Thegaraaya Chetty was an eminent lawyer, industrialist and a political leader and one of the founders of Justice Party.  This man with telegu ancestry, served as legislator.  His statue  was unveiled by Governor of Madras Sir. George Frederick Stanely in 1931

Now the venue shifts elsewhere;  in the year April 1961, he became the first man to journey into space and the 50 years later the World is set to celebrate with a statue on London's Mall. 

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin as the World remembers him so well,  was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut and the  first human being to journey into outer space.  His  Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961.  He became an international celebrity and was awarded medals and honours, including Hero -  the highest honour of Soviet Union.   That was his only spaceflight and he was the back up crew of Soyuz 1, which ended disastrously.  Gagarin later became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow, which was later named after him. Gagarin died in 1968 when a MiG 15 training jet he was piloting crashed.

He has many statues in Soviet Union but this one is to be unveiled in London modelled on the one in the outskirts of Moscow.   The unveiling is part of a series of events organised by YuriGagarin50, a year-long celebration of his journey into space as well as Britain and Russia's other achievements in space flight. Events will include lectures, concerts and special exhibits at museums up and down the UK.  Earlier, thousands had turned out to greet him when he made his trip to the U.K the following July as a guest of the British Foundry Workers' Union.  Gagarin had also visited  Manchester, where the president of the union presented him with a gold medal, before he travelled to London where he met Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and had lunch with the Queen and Prince Philip.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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