Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why not a simple, aesthetically appealing war memorial?

Why not a simple, aesthetically appealing war memorial?

B.K. Chandrashekar and K. Marulasiddappa
‘We should learn from the Chief Minister's Lalbagh initiative'

‘A memorial to our heroes should not be mired

in controversies'

Bangalore:Clearly, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Park issue is a fit case for Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to repeat the most sensible decision he and Minister in-charge of Bangalore South R. Ashok took to direct the Horticulture Department not to proceed with their fanciful proposal to “improve” the famous Lalbagh.

Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, architects of Lalbagh, can continue to rest in peace. Tipu did not build a memorial for his father, Hyder Ali, who created Lalbagh in 1760; instead he enlarged the garden by procuring saplings from foreign soils. That was Tipu's vision of “improvement”, not construction of buildings. Our compliments to the Chief Minister and the Minister.

The vision of Rajeev Chandrasekar of the “National Military Memorial” and others in the preparatory “War Memorial Committee” happens to be drastically different. We welcome a war memorial in principle. But why not a simple yet aesthetically appealing memorial to the brave sons of Karnataka who sacrificed their lives in the defence of the nation, instead of a “motivation hall” in the wooded park”. While an attractive “Veera Gallu” is already in position, a platform for military band, water bodies, plaques to display names of the martyrs will also come up in the park. The motivation hall of no less than 1,000 sq. metres will be underground. Why go underground? The fact that the original BDA statements filed before the High Court did not mention underground construction indicates that it was an afterthought, compelled by criticisms from environmentalists.

Wouldn't an overground memorial inspire in people sentiments of gratitude and respect for the heroes? Apparently not. “The underground hall, with display of artefacts of war etc., intends to motivate the youth in Karnataka to join the Defence services”, says the pleading of the committee before the High Court! As of now, are youngsters not joining the Defence services? How many of us, who seek to inspire “young proud Kannadigas” to join the Army, will encourage their own kids to do so?

The very same land was in the 1990s the subject of controversy. Based on a strong recommendation by both the bureaucratic and political wings of the then Government, the plan for a badly-needed convention centre had made substantial progress when it encountered turbulent opposition. Then Chief Minister Veerappa Moily's response was perfectly democratic and similar to Mr. Yeddyurappa's Lalbagh response. Neither Mr. Moily nor Mr. Yeddyurappa (and R. Ashok) made it an issue of personal prestige. Can we learn anything from this?

A simple dignified aesthetically inviting ‘Veera Gallu' complex displaying the names of martyrs from Karnataka will avoid all unseemly contestations.

A final word: please don't lecture the citizens of Bangalore and Kannadigas generally on patriotism and gratitude. We have read such gratuitous sermons from some members of the memorial committee and as Kannadigas we resent it.

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