LU’s Tagore Library Gets Back Sheen

Bapu – The Father of the Nation


Shaan e Awadh Lucknow has been well chronicled in history books for its role in the freedom movement, especially in the First War of Independence. In a city which boasts of seeing many revolutions, the Tagore Library has turned a new leaf recently.

The Gandhi statue of Tagore Library in Lucknow University had been robbed off its spectacles decades ago and consequently removed from the entrance of the Tagore Library. This October 2 was a special moment. The Gandhi statue this year got a fresh spectacle adding to the look of the statue.

On his birth anniversary the Gandhi statue got back its sheen. The spectacles on the sculpture made in 1951 and once the apple of the eyes of Gandhi enthusiasts, were stolen in the 1980s. Sculpted by artist Hironmoy Roy Chowdhury the statue has been seeing steady flow of visitors as it has opened up for the public.

The Indian National Trust of Arts and Cultural heritage team has designed the new spectacles. The spectacles have been made of bronze to match the statue.

A few pairs had been designed earlier but they did not fit the statue. Sources add that even fear of student unions had then led to shifting the statue out of the library entrance.

Modelled on a statue at Gandhi Park it has led to creation of many copies that are installed across the city including the Lalit Kala Akademi.

In a discussion thread on Quora some interesting facts come up on the Gandhi spectacles. Gandhi bought his first pair in 1890s when he was in London. He did not use them extensively and it was more of an accessory.

Everyday public usage started in during a fast in Bombay in 1921, when he was protesting communal rioting. During that time he gave up Western clothes and resorted to wearing khadi. He started shaving his head as well.

One pair is in Madurai and three other pairs have turned up for auctioning in 1997, 2009, and 2012. They are in unknown private collections.

It is for this inspiration from Gandhi that Steve Jobs decided to emulate it. The round glasses have since become popular, representing characters which have a soft demeanour and are physically weak but have strong personalities/intellect—Harry Potter, Clark Kent, and Velma are a few examples of this.

Recently University of Ghana saw a theft of Gandhi spectacles from his statue there.

On October 2012 a day before Indian’s marked Gandhi Jayanti, his spectacle from a statue in Ralegan Siddhi a village in Western India was stolen.

Again in December 2013, a 28-year-old unemployed man, Kunal Vaidya, admitted stealing Gandhi’s spectacle from Sevagram Ashram museum in Maharashtra’s Wardha three years back.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

Gandhi led nationwide nonviolent campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability, but above all for achieving Swaraj or self-rule.

Gandhi famously led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km  Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942.

His birthday, 2 October, is commemorated as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and world-wide as the International Day of Nonviolence.


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