The tallest statue ever built by mankind, one of its kind in the world-The Statue of Unity. Costing a back-breaking amount of 2,989 Crore rupees, the Statue of Unity is a tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the “Iron Man of India”, as he is affectionately called. At his 143rd birth anniversary, the Statue of Unity inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. It stands at 182 meters, and is twice the size of the Statue of Liberty in New York and five times as tall as Christ the Redeemer, in Rio de Janeiro.
You may find yourself asking if it’s worth it. And you won’t be the only one. So let us raise the level of debate in this country, and we need not be afraid to raise the questions that need to be asked. Who paid for the Statue of Unity? Why do we need the Statue of Unity? And with more than 22% of the population below the poverty line, is it worth it? Let’s find out.
Do we need the Statue of Unity?
“Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far“. Just like the saying goes, the Indian government has done it in a single stroke. Amongst as many as 39 developed countries, none can question the might of the Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest statue.
With more than 3000 labourers and 200 engineers, the construction of the Statue of Unity saw more than 500 crore rupees of wages being paid. Local and small business were employed, and numerous local transport and construction agencies were contracted to build the glorious monument. According to the government, the Statue of Unity is set to generate approximately 15,000 direct new jobs every year for the local indigenous population.
Within the first 11 days after its inauguration, the Statue of Unity has attracted 1.28 lakh visitors, and another whopping 4 Million annual visitors are expected to visit this site and marvel at the wonder that is the pride and prize of India.
Still not enough
The Statue of Unity is, no matter its mammoth size, is all but tiny in comparison to the circumstantial contributions Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel has made in lieu of helping his people rise to their freedom, which sadly has been somewhat subdued in the vast Indian mythos and history. But now, none shall forget the Ironman of India!
The other side, or hope for a better tomorrow
However, it does seem like something every other middle-class family does when they try to overcompensate with unnecessary luxury to make up for the financial hardship they face year round. So is the Statue of Liberty just like a gold laurel the Indian Government bought for itself, or is it dawn of new era, where India rises just like a Phoenix does, out of its ashes, where Indians stand and abide by the moral values we so proudly hide behind, where we treat our countrymen by their merit, and not by their caste or religion, and where we finally can say, Bharat Mata ki jay!
The argument is moot
The annual budget of the Indian Central Government is about 25 lakh crore rupees, and the annual budget for a commerce state like Gujarat is approx 1.83 crore rupees. With a little less than 3000 crore rupees, the budget for the Statue of Unity is less than 1.3% of a state government’s annual budget. In a millennia-old country where we adore our history and fawn over our monuments, where an entire industry depends on the construction and restoration of monuments; spending a little more than a percent of a state’s annual budget on something so monumental in its sheer size and significance is all but a small price to pay.