In a country beset with poverty and inequality questions raised over the rationale of erecting a statue at such a huge cost to the national exchequer
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel under his newly-inaugurated statue 'Statue of Unity'.
Dubai: Hailed as the world’s tallest statue, India’s Statue of Unity is an enormous exercise in vanity. While dedicating the massive bronze memorial of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the sentiment as ‘One India, Superior India’.
Mi-17 helicopters from the Indian Air Force were pressed in to shower flower petals over the venue in Narmada. Whether this was an effort to reconfigure India’s nationalism or one huge ego trip for Modi, the country needs very little of either.
The project has cost the public exchequer a whopping $403 million (Rs30 billion). In all its advertisement brochures and publicity blitzkrieg, the government has dubbed it as an engineering marvel, completed in a record 33 months, and twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty in New York.
But in a country of the size and diversity of India, with its myriad problems of poverty and inequality, experts have questioned the rationale of erecting a statue at such a huge cost to the national exchequer.
The country has had a statue culture with several politicians like Mayawati resorting to such dedications in the past.
Recently India’s 2018 National Family Health Survey (NFHS) concluded that the country has among the highest rate of children suffering from malnutrition as a result of unhealthy diets and poor sanitation.
Of course, Modi is not the first politician to spot virtue in statue building. The country has had a statue culture with several politicians like Mayawati resorting to such dedications in the past, but nothing beats the sheer scale of Modi’s pet project.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party aims to showcase its nationalistic credo by making much of the Patel statue, local farmers in Narmada are aghast. A majority of these people, living in poverty with hardly any education for their children and rampant malnourishment, have legitimately questioned the need to splurge government funds on such vanity projects.
In a tweet yesterday, ironically, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated Modi for making the country proud by unveiling the Patel statue. True glory, one might aver, would be uplifting the marginalised of India — a country that already stands proud in the comity of nations.