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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 28.12.2013

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee unveiled the statue of Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj today (December 28, 2013) at All India Shivaji Memorial Society, Shivaji Nagar, Pune, Maharashtra.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said that he had unveiled the statue of another illustrious son of soil - Janata Raja Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj - in Thane earlier in the day. He said that he felt honoured after paying tributes, on a single day, to two of the greatest heroes of not only Maharashtra, but of entire India.

The President stated that Shahu Maharaj was hailed as the king of the masses. He preferred simple living. He was the descendent of Shivaji and used his leadership, not for his personal aggrandizement, but for the welfare of backward classes. He was harbinger of a new age for socially oppressed classes. The crowning feat of action as a social revolutionary was achieved when, in 1902, Shahu Maharaj declared 50% reservation in the government services for the backward classes in his state. He thus became the founding father of the reservation policy for the backward classes. This also gave impetus to education among the backward class people.

The President said that Shahu Maharaj desired that women should also be educated and he gave exemption in fees to women studying in Rajaram College of Kolhapur. He paid personal attention to the education of untouchables. In 1919, he passed an order that gave free education to low caste students and provided them with free slates, books and pencils. His other initiatives included restricting child marriages in his state and the encouragement of inter-caste marriage and widow remarriage. He was a king who dedicated his life to fight the scourge of caste and untouchability.

The President further stated that Shahu Maharaj adopted various measures for economic upliftment of people. He visited and saw dams in Europe and undertook a similar huge project of constructing the Radhanagari dam in his State, which was then the biggest dam in India.

The President received a copy of biographical book titled "Rajarshi Shahu Chhatrapati -A Royal Revolutionary King,” by the historian, Dr. Jaysingrao Pawar, on the occasion.

This release issued at 2000 hrs