The following is the editorial that appeared in Loksatta (published by the Indian Express Group) on Wednesday, June 4, on the Maharashtra government’s decision to install a gigantic statue of Shivaji off the coast of Bombay.
In response to the article, the house of Loksatta editor Kumar Ketkar was attacked on Thursday in Thane, by activists of an organisation affiliated to the Nationalist Congress Party of Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.
By KUMAR KETKAR
It appears that all the problems of Maharashtra have been solved. People are not only happy and contented but are looking forward to a magnificent future. There are no indebted farmers in the state now, no suicides, no deaths caused by malnutrition. All children go to school, there is no unemployment among the educated as there is tremendous growth of industry as well as the knowledge sector and everyone has been employed. There is no question of the unskilled or the uneducated being unemployed because there is no such person. All the rivers and small and big dams on them have irrigated most of the land, including the drought-prone rainshadow belts. Obviously, there is no food shortage and, in fact, Maharashtra is surplus in food. There is no load shedding and not only is Nariman Point-Colaba shining but the whole state is illuminated. Dr Abhay Bang had espoused the cause of Arogya-Swarajya. That cause has already been achieved and the average lifespan in the state is 100 years.
This great success could not have been achieved without the farsighted leadership, commitment, conviction and vision of the state government. The credit for this goes to Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil. That is why the whole state is applauding and saluting their leadership. Indeed, that is why the people of the state are immensely delighted that the duo that rules the state has taken up the grand project of erecting a magnificent statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, right in the Arabian Sea, across Nariman Point, about one kilometre away. The government has decided that the statue will be taller and more grand than the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour.
The very idea of such a statue, mooted by the Congress-NCP four years ago, was welcomed by the whole Marathi people. Such a monument was the necessity of the hour, to announce to the world that Maharashtra is a state of warriors and patriots and the symbol of that spirit is Shivaji Maharaj. That is why Victoria Terminus was renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Instantly after the renaming, trains began to run on time, crowds could be managed, corruption disappeared, the local train journey became comfortable, like in the European suburban railway, and there were no accidents. Could this have happened without the glory of the name of Shivaji Maharaj that adorns the station now? Then the state and the people took the initiative to rename the domestic as well as international airport of Mumbai. Both are now renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj airport terminal. Like a magic wand, the airports became efficient, employees began to behave courteously, flights were punctual, take-offs and landings perfect, no more hovering in the sky looking for landing spots. Who would have believed this if it had not actually been experienced by the people? Was it possible without the miracle called Shivaji Maharaj?
Naturally, the government felt that having solved all the problems of the people, what remains to be done is to tell the whole world of the greatness of Shivaji. The government has decided to have more than one acre of land inside the sea acquired and filled so as to build the monument, which will attract all global tourists. All facilities will be given to the tourists. There will be a museum near the statue, artifacts of the 17th century, Shivaji’s personal effects, swords and shields and attire. There will also be directives issued by the Maharaj to his administrators on how to govern and make the people happy. Along with the museum, there will be shopping malls, selling T-shirts with Shivaji’s painting. There will be Shivaji key chains, Shivaji gift items, including cutlery.
Of course, there will be no beer bars. So obviously, there will be no dance bars, which the Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil detests so much. There will be perhaps wine, which according to the leader of NCP, Sharad Pawar, is not alcohol. So wine will be sold and served along with Coke and Pepsi and other soft drinks. There will be swadeshi McDonald’s as well as vintage Marathi vada-pau, which has been renamed by Uddhav Thackeray as ‘Shiv vada-pau’. There will also be pani puri sold by the MNS activists of Raj Thackeray. No bhaiyyas will be allowed to do business, only locals will be engaged.
The monument will inspire not only the people of the state but all those who visit Bombay. The globe-trotters will go back to their respective countries with the message of Shivaji Maharaj, and the glory of the state called Maharashtra, where every person is happy and contented. It is the most ideal place on earth and anybody looking for a role model should look at the creation of Vilasrao Deshmukh-R.R. Patil. Did anyone else think of and visualise such a fantastic idea?
The monument would be ready soon. In the year 2010, on May 1, the state will be celebrating its golden jubilee. Could there have been a greater tribute to the image, symbol and glory of Shivaji Maharaj than such a statue, standing in the middle of the sea, warning all the terrorists to keep off Mumbai, and to keep away from India because the people of Maharashtra protect and promote the idea of a Great India?
Courtesy: The Indian Express
Also read: Not the land of cows, the land of holy cows
Brilliant edit. Hits hard where it hurts the most. Great example of using wit to present views forcefully. No wonder Cong – NCP felt shamed and perhaps thoroughly exposed by this piece.
General imprression is that people have very little time to read newspapers and have no time whatsover to read editorials ( they are read by retired people who want to pass time) etc. Am glad this edit got read, reacted to and ( as a result ) thousands of people who dint know about the existence of this edit have read or debated this timely piece.
No doubt the message was LOUD and clear , but i wonder why the likes of kumar ketkar dont take the Congress or the Communists had on.Last heard Indira Gandhi solved the country’s food and housing crisis with some cheap populist slogans in the 70’s.Rajiv Gandhi followed her in the 80’s and now we hear the same cheap stuff from Sonia and her ilk.
At the offset, He is so sarcastic!! One can’t mix up issues. The whole text sounds like written by a Naxalite or an Jehadi. It is to say to cover the increase in living cost shut down all the five star hotels and have conferences in Indian Coffee Houses. (The PM almost said that).
The Great Raju Srivastava joked: Shah Jahaan after building Taj Mahal Exclaimed: “Banaathe Banaathe Bahuth hi Bada Ban Gaya!!”.
Why would one spend crores on maintaining Vrindavan Gardens and Mysore Palace when Mandya farmers are not getting reasonable price for sugar cane? why would we want Tipu Sultan’s sword back when the bank interest rates are soaring? (You can’t afford to pledge the sword). Do we really need Air condition in Airports? Should Anil Ambani build a helipad atop his residence?
First I thought the above piece was written AFTER his house was attacked.
All said: The above piece is far from an editorial. The attack anyway is not justified. Mumbai has reached a point where it can’t deal with Sarcastics in the RIGHT way.
Shivaji is probably using all the celestial soap he can get his hands on to try and rid himself of the putrid taint of Maharashtra’s politicians associating themselves with him.
That is of course, if Ambedkar doesn’t finish it all up in the first place…
will the KRV react in a more civilised manner if a leader idolised by them is targeted in the same manner is MY QUESTION.
I wonder why there is this seemingly unnatural over-idolization of Sivaji in Maharashtra. It is fine to idolize past figures but the level being witnessed borders on insanity. In any case, Sivaji would not seem to be the greatest person (the Buddha, Gandhi and Tagore spring to mind among Indians) who ever lived and yet Maharashtra seems hell bent on believing so. Odd.
Replace Shivaji with Kempegowda and bingo… you have a similar situation in Bengalooru
Tis was a excellent editorial with a good deal of sarcasm and a valid critique of our current state of affairs. Unfortunately Mr. Ketkat picked on the wrong holy cows of India. It should be known to all in India that there are some people who can never be questioned on a human level. The two prime icons in Maharashtra and also in the rest of India are Shivaji and Ambedkar. Remember how arun shourie was targetted by ‘Intellectuals’ after he wrote a book on Ambedkar with extensive references from credible sources. Anyway thats our India. We are still a long way to go to be a free soceity.
In Karnataka it is our Annavaru. Does any of our Buddhijeevi writers, editors and Journalists have the guts to question Dr Rajkumar, his personal life and his contribution to Karnataka. No journalist would dare do such a thing. Lankesh Patrikes, Hai Bangaloores and other mags would dare not question Rajakumar even after his death. Even freelance stand up comedians like Master Hirannaih and dherrendra gopal who make fun of everyone would never talk glibly about Rajkumar. This shows a lot about the intellectual freedom we lack in our soceity. Hopefully the internet blogs like churumuri can break this.
well said Ishweshwariah. And as far Chaitanya N’s comment on over idolisation, I do not agree with him. Please understand it was shivaji who stood against Mughals and was the first Hindu King in South of India to stop the advent of Aurangazeb after the downfall of Hindu kingdoms like Vijayanagar.
This is not RSS talk but the fact which any Indian and Hindu should be proud of.
Replace Shivaji’s name with Mayawati and we can visualise a similar scenario in Uttar Pradesh. We pay our taxes through our nose(s) and we get statues in return. In the 80s N T Rama Rao installed 30-odd statues of eminent people on Tank Bunk Road in Hyderabad. It so happened that the faces of all statues resembled that of NTR. Eenadu’s brilliant cartoonist Sridhar had depicted this resemblance on the front page of the daily.
Good that NTR did it in 80s. It would have cost a lot more for Chandrababu or YSR
If Mr. Ketkar had real guts:
he would have criticized Mayawati’s statue in UP
he would have criticized statues of so many film stars in TN
he would have criticized statues of so many film stars in AP
he would criticized statues of members of the ruling family in India spread out everywhere in India
But he won’t and never will
He also would have questioned statue of Wodayar at the circle.
Also the Mahatma Gandhi statue (Head only) at the start of M G Road
He also would have questioned the statue of Sadam Hussain in a Kerala village.
Vikas: He wrote this in Loksatta. That’s where it matters.
Scathing editorial interlaced with sarcastic humour. It stung alright. Brilliant write..
Can a Kannada version be published in Prajavani, so that our people can also read this! Jai Rajakumar ji!
Ishweshwariah, please.. not again. Rajkumar time and again told he is just an actor and thats that. People love him for just being Rajkumar. what criticism should all the “Lankesh Patrikes, Hai Bangaloores and other mags would dare not question Rajkumar even after his death.” what questions?? what questions can you ask Bismillah Khan? or M S? or any of the great souls who spread so much happiness through their art? Rajkumar was great. still is. if you have problems with it specify. dont make a blanket wail. it has become a fashion to at someone big just for the heck of it. i love Rajkumar for being Rajkumar. I have no complaints with him.
dharma what rajkumarJI? we are kannadigas. Dont “ji” us! you can use “avare” if you want. – dharma avare gottayitaa?
and this – “Does any of our Buddhijeevi writers, editors and Journalists have the guts to question Dr Rajkumar, his personal life and his contribution to Karnataka.”
who the hell are these to question his personal life? who? and why? why question Rajkumar’s personal life? he had every right to live what ever he lived. why should you question it? this is hippocracy at its height.
and this – “Does any of our Buddhijeevi writers, editors and Journalists have the guts to question Dr Rajkumar, his personal life and his contribution to Karnataka.”
YELBU YILLADHA NAALIGE HENGE BEKADRU aLLADDUTHE
What is that you want to question about Dr Raj’s personal life? If you think there was some thing dirty about him in his personal life. Take a stand, make a cogent case and submit the facts. Nuances and innuendos dont count.
And for god’s sake he was a movie actor who brought cheer to lives of ordinary kannadigas in a decent way. People forget their worries for those 3 hrs. What else did you expect of him? Are you disappointed that he did not write any novel and win the jnanapith award like our resident buddhijeevi URA.
Your comments reeks of an upperclass conspiracy to undermine him. At a time when the upper class felt that only they had the prerogative to all that is artsy. It must have been difficult for them to swallow his popularity.
How come you dont expect much of a Vishnuvardhan or a Ananth Nag? the latter was a darling of the middle class who encashed on it and made it to the cabinet only to spend more time sloshed in the Lotus room bar lounge of Hotel Asoka.
You might have forgotten another so called buddhijeevi MS Sathyu’s vacuous tirade against Rajkumar
Of course there are no holy cows neither are you and neither am I.
Chaitanya,do you respect the free right of the Maharashtrians to choose their heroes.Who are you tell them?You do not appreciate a fighter against islamic aggression.Islam has taken over 1/3 of this continent.Withe stupid hindus like you the remaining will be taken over once muslims and bangladeshis achieve critical mass like they have done in westbengal assam and ofcourse kashmir.Start teachind your grandchildren how to do namaaz.Muslims do not respect Gandhi even though he did so much for them.Mullahs in kashmir disclaimed Gandhi recently.Read up the facts before posting here
i still condemn the attack on Loksatta editor Kumar Ketkar, though i dont agree with his edit completely. there is substance in what Rama has said.
Ray – “do you respect the free right of the Maharashtrians to choose their heroes?”
If you left your question at that I might have thought you a rational human being and entertained you with a lengthy rational reply on my views.
The rest of your comment however betrays such idiocy and religious fundamentalism and fanaticism that I really don’t feel like dignifying your response with an answer. People like you really make me despair.
Good post and I agree with you. I am not sure what is the article trying to get, but are they suggesting that till we solve humanity’s problem, lets not do anything fancy? It sounds cliche. I do understand that 300 feet of Shivaji sounds far fetched and perhaps not needed, but is a 30 feet statue of Shivaji good enough for the esteemed author? Is the author suggesting that we wait till Mumbai provides food for all people
This is just like an other arguement. Since Hinduism has so many problems it shouldnt question the conversions that are happenning or intolerance of other faiths. All right, we will wait till Hinduism fixes all its problems. Perhaps there will be no Hindu left then. Even the merrier.
Chaitanya says “People like you really make me despair.”
Of course. Looking at your asshat response to a question that deserved a reply, I can see why you might be in despair. Instead of talking about fanatiscms or labelling anyone who speaks the truth a religious fundamentalist, why dont your prove your intelligence by giving facts and making “Ray” eat his own words. Instead, we have a 3 line diatribe about how you are aghast by people like “Ray”
Mr, Chaitanya, a word called “asshat” is appropriate to you.
chaitanya my comment was based on the facts in kashmir and former divided India which was partition because of islam’s appetite for jihadi conquest.Are the danish people fundamentalist for banning muslim immigration?We havent learnt after 60 yrs what the west has learnt in 2 years.
What you think about my comment is hardly relevant but it is stupid because you have no rebuttal on the facts. What was it that I said was untrue.Who are you to call hindu reaction fundamentalism and cosying up to islamic fundamentalism by hiding and siding with it.
about fundamneetalism.U cannot even see the difference between a modern reaction to islam like the danish peoples.
Vitlan Potli and Subbulakshmi,
Regarding our Annavaru Dr. Rajkumar. Like many Kannadigas I am a fan of Rajkumar, his acting and singing. But why should he be treated as a Holy cow. Why did the media hush up the Veerapan-Kidnapping episode. How much of money was paid by the Government to secure the actors release. There seems to be no transperancy in all this.
About the personal life of Annavaru, the media has taken all the pains to portray him as having been the ideal man with ideal character. Negative news about him has been suppressed. Miss Leelavathi is my uncles neighbour in Chennai and everyone knows who fathered her son, Vinod Raj. Why the media who thrive on small time gossip is silent on this issue. When they can talk about Yediyurappa and Shobha Karandlaje, SMK and Saroja Devi, RK and Pratibha prahalad. Why cant they openly talk about this icon of Kannadigas in the same vein. Hypocrisy and fear of repraisals from his followers as the main resons.
Financing for this project estimated at IRs. 50B will come from the state of Maharashtra. The political will to spend on a public project of this scale in Maharashtra can only be built in the name of Shivaji. No other personality living or dead is strong enough to rally people of Maharashtra at this scale. Shivaji’s life and character define the values of the people of the state. In all respects this is not any different than the liberty statue on ellis island. Liberty statue and Shivaji’s proposed statue embody the values of the people who will build it.
It is a also a good business investment for the state, the cost of the statue is probably 2-5% of the cost of the overall investment. The infrastructure, people and processes that will be developed for this project will help the state undertake similar grandiose infrastructure projects elsewhere.
There is really nothing negative about this project.
… why u want to know abt personal life of Dr Raj ?..is it usefull to anybody.. Who brought the DADA SAHEB PALKE AWARD to karnataka ?..
thats Dr Raj !!.. and his movies very pleasant and make us happy. i a am proud to be a kannadiga .. Dr Raj’s fan……….
and Shivaji Maharaj is a great hindu king… have no doubt..
but at this time.. making his big statu in arabean sea is meer wast..
i fully agree with kumar ketkar’s view..
in US their is the statu of liberty…even after they attacked by Osama……they r facing problem of black and white,drugs in teenagers, alcholism,divorce dont u think its social issues …..its not abt statu its about what we are learning from it….after 100 yrs same peoblems will be their..so no need to talk about it……..People choosing their leaders by vote…so they are responsible for their conditions….