Statue of Unity – A record breaking marvel or a Populist Government’s Mistake?

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It’s been quite some time now that the statue of unity has been unveiled by our Prime Minister. It’s the tallest statue in the world, which stands 182 metres tall in the Kevadiya Village of Narmada District in Gujrat and has costed 3000 crores (rough numbers). Now, these are facts which are repeatedly being reminded to us through social media, news rooms, print media and every other media source which we know of. We are also reminded that within few days of its inaugural, it has received footfall of more than 10 lakhs tourists, gaining multiple crores in revenue. Hundreds of people have been employed to run this new tourist spot, which has come out of nowhere, and is now receiving thousands of people every day.

The central government has been patting its back for a long time now; one, for immortalising the efforts of Sardar Patel in uniting an utterly fragmented landmass which later came to be known as India and secondly, to give the nation’s people bragging rights of having the world’s tallest statue in their country. It is also a very tactical political move, as the BJP after this, will get the custodian rights of Sardar Patel’s legacy, which to say the least, is legendary.

However, this statue has also made us question that are we a nation of big statues and small minds? Was it wise to spend 3,000 crores on a statue, when we are still a nation which suffers from weak infrastructural problems, and lack of funds for welfare schemes? These are some of the many questions which were repeatedly being asked on social media and various other platforms. Incidentally, UK gave around 9,492 crores to India as foreign aid in the course of five years it took to build the colossal bronze statue on a bend of Narmada. However, after seeing where Indian Government spent the money, UK thinks that it was abysmally preposterous to spend 3000 crores on a statue. UK MP Peter Bone remarked, “It is up to them how they spend their money, but if they can afford this statue, then it’s clearly not a country we should be giving aid to”. He went on further and said, “To take 1.1 billion pounds in aid from us and then at the same time spend 330 million pounds on a statue is a total nonsense, and it is a sort of thing which drives people mad”. Various other home-grown intellectuals have voiced their opinions on the statue and have called it unnecessary burden on a fractured post-demonetisation economy. The tribes living in the vicinity of the statue have already been protesting against the statue, but their concerns remain unheard as always.

In spite of the rebuttals, there have been many other opinions which have called this statue a sign of Indian Strength and our booming economy. The argument is that India is not Somalia that it cannot afford to build memorials for its freedom fighters and heroes. India is a leading economy and has enough money for development projects and buildings that inspire people. If all human endeavours should be about feeding the hungry, then there should be no art, no literature, no great architecture in this world. PM Modi has shown the world that India can think big now.

Amidst all these contradicting opinions present on the right and left of the statue, the statue still stands and will continue standing till the sluttish time besmears it. The debates will continue, and should be continued.

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