Mayor Gonzales Accepts Sister City Statue from Pune, India

San Jose, CA

San Jose - Pune (India) Sister City Committee recently presented a statue representing the history of Pune to San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales on behalf of both communities.

Committee president Suneel Kelkar and founding member Vijay Pendse made the presentation of the statue of 17th Century King Shivaji of Maharashtra, the Indian state where Pune is located, to Mayor Gonzales as a gift from the people of Pune to the people of San Jose.

Pune Mayor Gaikwad first unveiled the figure of King Shivaji two years ago at a local convention of Maharashtrians called Brihan Maharashtra Adhiveshan.

King Shivaji was the founder of the City of Pune, where he earned reknown for his leadership during battles against foreign rulers in the seventeenth century. He is still a popular historical figure revered by the people of Maharashtra.

"We believe this will be the first statue of King Shivaji installed anywhere in a public place in the United States," said Suneel Kelkar.

"We are proud of our rich and diverse community in San Jose, and for this reason we have much in common with our sister city Pune," said Mayor Gonzales. "I am delighted to accept this statue that such historical significance to the people of Pune, and I look forward to it taking its place of honor among all seven of our sister cities in Guadalupe Park."

The local San Jose-Pune sister city committee members recently completed restoration of the statue that has suffered some damage during shipping storage before it was presented to the City of San Jose. The statue is approximately four feet tall and weighs more than 200 pounds.

The King Shivaji statue will be installed in Guadalupe Park in downtown San Jose, where all seven of San Jose's sister cities will have designated commemorative markers. Park construction is scheduled to begin this summer and completed next year.

Mayor Gonzales Dresses Up
for the Occasion

April 17, 2001, San Jose, CA

This week, Mayor Gonzales met with mayor of Pune, based in the state of Maharashtra in India. Pune is the seventh Sister City of San Jose. Mayor Datta Gaikwad of Pune offered him a special gift a hat and a shawl worn by scholars in the old tradition in Maharashtra. The hat is called a Pagadi and the shawl is called Uparane and is a symbol of traditional scholars.

Mayor Gaikwad was in town to promote the IT seminar (Vision Maharashtra) arranged to promote Pune to the local companies wishing to expand their overseas software operations. San Jose Pune Sister City (SJPSC) Organization was one of the sponsors of this event. Pune is the second largest software town in Maharashtra after Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Many government branches of Maharashtra made presentations on the suitability of Pune with its mild climate, availability of many educational institutions, open spaces, plenty of water and electricity and most importantly - plentiful supply of high tech, knowledge workers.

Mayor Gaikwad also presented a small model of the famous castle in Pune Shaniwarwada which used to be the residence of the Prime Minister (Peshwa) during the 100 years of Maratha reign in India. The two mayors also discussed possible future relationship of the sister cities. Mayor Gaikwad spoke in his mother tongue Marathi and Suneel Kelkar, the current president of SJPSC organization, worked as a translator. Mayor Gonzales seemed to be quite comfortable being bilingual himself and used to visitors and dignitaries speaking many languages.

Last year, Mayor Gaikwad presented a statue of the founder of city of Pune King Shivaji to Mayor Gonzales. The statue is about 4 feet tall and is designed to withstand outdoor weather. The statue is for installation in the Guadalupe River Park. Each San Jose sister city has been allotted a small plot under this scheme. Yokohama and Dublin, which were one of the first sister cities, have received their plots and have decorated it with a gift from their city. Mayor Gonzales announced that the money has been allocated in the budget and the next expansion will begin this summer. He expressed regrets at the delay but the city had to work with State and Federal authorities to pass many environmental regulations. Pune being the seventh Sister City will be the next to get its plot when this expansion is completed. In the mean time, the statue will be scheduled for display at the city hall. Mayor Gonzales expressed some concern of security for the statue due to the recent vandalism of the statue of Columbus at the city hall. Mayor Gaikwad invited Mayor Gonzales to the next IT conference to be held in Pune on December 14 and 15 of 2001. Vice Mayor George Shirakawa may attend this meeting with a delegation of local software companies interested in off shore software development opportunities in Pune, India.