New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will digitally unveil a statue of Swami Vivekananda on Jawaharlal Nehru University campus on November 12. “The unveiling of the statue will be preceded by a programme on Swami Vivekananda from 5.30 pm onwards,” said Rector III RP Singh on Sunday.
JNU vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar tweeted, “JNU is delighted to announce that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil (through Video Conference) the life-size statue of Swami Vivekananda in the University campus on Thursday 6:30 p.m. The event will be live-streamed on JNU’s Facebook.”
He also said that Swami Vivekananda inspired citizens “to take pride in Indian civilization, culture and its industrious spirit.”
While the university maintains that the proposal for the statue was “unanimously approved” by Executive Council members in 2017, a section of the JNU community – including students and teachers – had raised questions on funding for the statue.
Former JNU students’ union president N Sai Balaji, who is currently pursuing his PhD from the university, had submitted multiple Right To Information (RTI) applications during his tenure in 2018-2019 seeking details on the funding.
“The RTI responses revealed that the statue did not have necessary permission from the Estate branch or forest department as many trees were cut for erecting the statue. Besides, we want money for libraries and books on these leaders for academic engagement. If the alumni has indeed funded the statue, why is there no transparency over it? The JNU community should have information on this.”
Reacting to the allegations, Rector RP Singh said, “The proposal for this statue was given by the engineering department and it was unanimously approved by the Executive Council in June 2017 after discussion over it. No JNU funds are being used for the installation or the making of the statue. JNU alumni came forward and made this marvellous contribution for the campus.”
Referring to the delay in the unveiling of the statue which has been lying covered since over a year, Singh said, “It was due to the ongoing work.”
JNU Alumnus Manoj Kumar, a teacher of Political Science at Delhi University, is being credited as the one who conceptualized the project. “The JNU administration only provided the space and we took support and contributions from a lot of people for the statue. Even the statue makers offered a discount to us,” he said.
Without sharing any details on the total cost of the statue, Kumar said, “Since 2005, I have been requesting different vice-chancellors to install a statue of Swami Vivekananda on campus as his philosophies have inspired the youth. But things couldn’t materialize until 2017.”
In 2019, the statue was defaced during the fee hike protest by unidentified people. A First Information Report was registered in the matter and the complaint read that “objectionable messages coloured with political remarks” were written on the base of the statue.
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