Government officials in Assam have come under heavy criticism after they made the decision to “replace” a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, which was created by one of India’s finest sculptors, Ramkinkar Baij in the 1970s in Guwahati.
The reason for the decision? “The statue of Mahatma Gandhi, which was sculpted long back, gives a distorted image of Mahatma Gandhi. Therefore, (this) meeting has decided to sculpt another statue and replace the old one,” the BJP MLA from Guwahati (East), Siddhartha Bhattacharyya, who attended the meeting, told The Indian Express.
Perhaps the officials who have taken the decision have little or no idea that Baij was one of India’s greatest modern sculptors. They might consider watching the footage (above) from legendary film-director Ritwik Ghatak’s unfinished documentary on the artist, many of whose sculptures can be seen in Santiniketan, where he lived and worked.
In July 1975, Ghatak – who died in February, 1976 before finishing the documentary – spent four consecutive days with Baij in Santiniketan, talking to the sculptor and shooting his works. Among them is the original version of the statue of Gandhi. Ghatak observes the human skull below Gandhi’s foot in the sculpture and wants to know the significance.