January 29, 2022 - 6:09 am

Hologram Statue Of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at the India Gate

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the holographic statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at the India Gate, near which the Amar Jawan Jyoti flickered for 50 years, marking the 125th Birth Anniversary of the Illustrious freedom fighter. The Iconic canopy at the India Gate which once hosted a statue of King George V until 1968, will be hosting the one-of-a-kind holographic statue of Netaji projected by a 4K projector. The hologram will later be replaced by a 28-ft-high permanent jade black statue of Subhas Chandra Bose made in Granite.

There have been deliberations during successive governments of installing a Mahatma Gandhi statue where King George V’s statue stood, or one of Jawaharlal Nehru or even of Indira Gandhi post-1984. Historians, however, insisted it should remain empty as a reminder of the country’s past. So, for more than five decades, the canopy remained empty, earning the name ‘Empty Canopy’. Last week, the government announced that from this year, Republic Day celebrations will start on January 23 rather than the usual January 24, to mark Bose’s 125th birth anniversary. The government had earlier announced that Bose’s birth anniversary would be celebrated as Parakram Divas. Museums dedicated to Bose have been set up at the Red Fort and Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. During its first term, the Modi government had also declassified several files related to Bose’s life and times, through the National Archives of India. But there was a realisation that Bose is perhaps the only national leader who doesn’t have a statue or memorial dedicated to him in the capital.

The installation of Netaji’s statue marks yet another change to Central Vista avenue, which has been redeveloped under the Central Vista project. The canopy where the statue is installed is located at the centre of the India Gate Hexagon complex, with the National War memorial located to the east of it and the India Gate to the west. After a wait for decades, the war memorial was finally constructed by the Modi government and it was inaugurated in 2019. According to govt sources, work on the permanent stone statue will start in the next few weeks and it could take at least five to six months to complete the same. The statue made of black granite from Telangana is expected to be installed by August this year. The installation of Netaji’s statue is not merely all about nationalistic pride, it is also a message to the world as India stands up to pay respects to a revolutionary leader who was with the losing side in World War II.

National capitals, worldwide, are replete with memorials to wars and warriors, heroic statues of soldiers and squares and avenues named after generals, admirals and famous battles. In India, statues and street names focus mainly on politicians and, occasionally, on religious figures, business tyoons or scholars, with soldiers mostly forgotten. In this context, displaying the statue of Netaji Subhas Bose, a freedom-fighter and a quasi-military Indian icon, on his 125th birth anniversary, at India Gate canopy is to bewelcomed.

We should be proud of all these people who fought for our independence and gave us the freedom we cherish today. But the important thing to remember is that Netaji should not be reduced to just a symbol or a hologram. He stood for certain admirable values and principles. He was a man of profound secularism, his Azad Hind Fauj had people of every faith - Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs - who served side by side with Netaji in positions of honour and trust. The officer with him when his plane crashed was a Muslim, his colleague was a Christian... This is the kind of ethos Netaji represents. In fact, he was one of the first leaders to value women's equality. This kind of leader should not be seen as just a hologram. It's not only valour and heroism he had; there are also certain solid principles which, we should adopt.