Delhi: Statue of Swami Vivekananda at centre of row covered for a year

Aranya Shankar
The idea of having a life-sized statue of Swami Vivekananda was first publically declared in July 2017. At the time, it was not decided where it would be constructed. (Source: ANI)

The yet-to-be unveiled statue of Swami Vivekananda, covered from head to toe in a cloak and in news for defacement of its pedestal, has been standing near the administrative block of the Jawaharlal Nehru University for almost a year. The idea of having a life-sized statue of Swami Vivekananda was first publically declared in July 2017. At the time, it was not decided where it would be constructed.

In an Executive Council (EC) meeting on June 30 that year, it was decided that the varsity be given a “more pleasing look”.

“For a more pleasing look, it has been decided by the competent authority that a statue of suitable height and size of a historically important person like Swami Vivekananda... may be erected with proper elevated platform, stone pathways, benches, lights and interconnected works, including public utilities, etc," the EC stated.

Rector III Rana Pratap Singh had told The Indian Express that the suggestion came from the engineering department.

In January 2018, the then JNU Students' Union president N Sai Balaji filed an RTI, seeking details on the total cost of constructing the statue and the source of funding. The varsity reportedly responded that “no JNU funds are being used”.

Replying to another RTI by Balaji, JNU’s Deputy Registrar (Finance) in May 2018 said “no request regarding construction of Vivekananda statue at ad block was received from the engineering department”.

In November-December 2018, construction of the statue began at the administrative block. On December 3, 2018, JNU Registrar Pramod Kumar said “one of (JNU’s) alumni” was “voluntarily managing all the expenses involved in making and installation of the statue”. He did not share any further details.

JNU authorities did not say why the statue has not yet been unveiled for almost a year. Calls and texts sent to Registrar, V-C and Rector seeking this information were met with no response.