An open letter to Mahatma Gandhi – Esther David

Respected Gandhiji, I am writing this letter to you with great sorrow, as the other day, I was passing by Gandhi Bridge, where your statue has been standing since 1969. It was made by famed sculptor late Kanti Patel, who is known for his expertise at making your statues. His studio in Ahmedabad hidden in a chikoo-wadi with flocks of Peacocks, has innumerable plaster casts and moulds in all sizes. There is one particular sculpture was done; with a live sitting given by  Mahatma Gandhi to Kantibhai. 

And, as I said, when I was on Ashram road, I could not see your statue, immediately. Of course, I have been reading in the newspapers about the dilemma of the civic authorities, as they do not know which would be the perfect place to relocate you. Anyway, as my auto-rickshaw stopped to turn towards Gujarat Vidyapeeth, I saw your statue. I could see that the Ashram Road flyover was flying over you. Actually, very close to your head. Maybe, it could hurt you. Till the time, a decision is taken, as you stand there, your thoughts about peace, will be disturbed by the incessant rumble of vehicles. 

I started wondering; are people aware that this particular statue is yours? Or do they assume, you are one of those many unnamed national leaders, who have been standing there, for ages or do they know who you are – The Father of the nation or The Father of the freedom movement.

Today, we have so much freedom that we may have forgotten you and do not know what to do with you.

I am writing this, as I have doubts, if people recognize Indulal Yagnik’s statue, standing on a rock on the eastern side of Nehru Bridge is also sculpted by Kanti Patel.

Public art has always been a major issue in Ahmedabad. At, most crossroads of the city, we have either national leaders or sculptures, which are sponsored by well known companies or there are forms, like a kettle or a kumbh or a flame.  These are not works of great art; the sponsors grow a lot of green around the traffic circle, even if the sculpted-form are not visually appealing.

I feel, in the case of national leaders, some artists need to study anatomy, before making statues for public places. And, there should be a committee of aesthetic consultants, to decide about form, subject, size, material and colour. If not, these forms give a wrong message about art to the general public.

At the end, I feel, if this how, they are going to leave you or shift you to Vadaj crossroads or no-where, I have come to the conclusion that, we have forgotten you. With my heartfelt respects, yours truly…

(P.S. Maybe, you will be happier, if they give you a place, where you belong – Gandhi Ashram) 

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