Subhas Chandra Bose'sancestral home is finally a museum
By Dilip Bisoi
Janakinath Bhawan, the imposing yellowish building on almost an acre of land in Oriya Bazar of Cuttack city, is finally getting the attention it deserves. Under the guidance of Intach, the house is being turned into a museum showcasing the life and times of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who was born there in 1897.
The fate of the house took a turn for the better in 2001 when the Centre set its eye on it. Dusting the state government'sproposal to convert the building into a museum with an investment of Rs 3.75 crore, the Centre sanctioned Rs 1.5 crore as part of its 50% share for the project. A trust was constituted called the Netaji Birth Place Museum Trust to execute the work.
The building has been renovated and the memorabilia of Netaji is being displayed in the galleries on the ground floor. The first floor galleries and the formal garden would be ready for the public by October 2005.
?We have tried to retain the ambience of the early 20th century while restoring the building,? says Orissa Culture Minister Damodar Rout. The museum will be of international standard with modern display system, display signs, lightings, interpretation system, besides computer station for exhibiting films on Netaji, he said, adding ?we are working to make the museum a National Memorial.?
The building and the memorabilia belonging to Netaji have tremendous historical value, says B.K. Rath, the superintendent of the State Department of Archeology.
The Trust is now proposing to build an open air auditorium with the museum as a backdrop. Plans are also afoot to have a light and sound system for the museum.
The repository has become a treasure house of Netaji'spersonal memorabilia. The furniture and the household articles used by the freedom fighter, the books he read, his photographs, etc, are on display. Also on display are artifacts and documents relating to the life of Bose. Among the most valuable collections of
Netaji is a bunch of letters he had written from jails in Rangoon, Shillong, Kolkata and also from Germany, Italy and Geneva.
Rath, who is doubling as the ex-officio director of the Netaji Birth Place Museum Trust, in fact, has been assiduously pursuing people and organisations worldover to donate to the museum. His efforts have resulted in a flood of articles from Netaji'sassociates, INA soldiers, and fans.
One Haribandhu Sahu, who had bought the Palanka (huge cot) used by Netaji from his family members long ago has donated back the same to the museum. INA Lieutenant R. Laxmidevi Naidu of Chennai, Captain C.N. Santhanam, and Mrs Achamaratra from Eranakulam have donated rare photographs, books and INA dresses. The West Bengal government has promised to donate a life-size wax statue of Netaji. The maximum contribution has come from A.S. Sanyasi Rao, a man from Srugabarphukota village in Vijayanagaram district of Andhra Pradesh. Rao has donated over 316 rare photographs, 160 books and journals.
However, the donation from S.K. Abdus Sattar Hazari, a 100-year-old villager from Fazalpur under Korei post office of Jajpur district, has shed light on a different aspect of the national leader. Hazari has handed over to the museum authorities a homeopath box used by Netaji to treat cholera patients in the area.
?We have also requested the governments of Japan, Singapore and Burma, where Netaji had spent most of his time, to donate to the museum,? points out Dr Rath.
Meanwhile, the Trust is planning to set up a special corpus to meet the recurring expenses of the museum. The museum, meanwhile, has started earning by way of entry fee and sale of souveneirs.
However, the government seems to be quite disturbed with the PIL filed by one Netaji Subhas Samiti Parisad. The Parisad has alleged that the museum works are not being done properly and there is misuse of funds. The State government has filed an affidavit in the court countering the allegations. Like Netaji, the museum may have to live with controversy.