A lot has been said and written about the Statue of Unity which was inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi recently. Many people have raised objections to spending nearly 3000 crores on the statue. They say that this money could’ve been gainfully employed for other purposes like building schools, hospitals, roads etc. An MP from UK, Peter Bone went to the extent of calling it ‘complete nonsense’. He added that they (UK) shouldn’t be giving us aid if we’re using so much money in building statues.
Firstly, Brits shouldn’t be talking about what we do with our money. If they’re so concerned with the pitiful aid of 300 million dollars that they give, they’re at liberty to stop it. In any case, our govt has time and again reiterated that we don’t need their aid, but it’s they themselves who insist on giving it. It may sound bizarre to some but the reality is that giving us aid makes them look good in international fora, and probably gives an impression that they’re making it up for the loot that they perpetrated during their 200 years of colonial rule. Apart from the regular loot of taxes etc which were routinely transferred to Britain, I take the liberty of pointing out one instance which was out-rightly niggardly.
At the end of the Second World War, Britain owed 2 billion dollars to British India for the war efforts. Kindly note, British India and Britain were two separate accounting entities. The money was due for payment of salaries of personnel recruited for the war, and weapons and ammunition which was also specifically manufactured for the war. Mind you, India did not take part in the war of its own free will. We were forced into it by Britain.
So how did Britain pay the 2 billion dollars to us? Well, they just told us to print equivalent amount of rupees at an exchange rate decided by them. It’s like Vijay Mallya telling the banks that RBI can just print 9000 crores which he owes them. You can see for yourself how ridiculous this sounds, but this is exactly what the Brits did. You can imagine what those 2 billion dollars would be worth today, possibly a trillion dollars, if not more. So the Brits need to just shut the hell up and mind their own business.
The longish rebuttal to Brits was important since they love to cock a snook at us whenever they deem fit, and we need to say things to their face now. The govt too ought to do the same.
Coming to the more important question of whether the huge amount of money spent on the statue could’ve been better utilized elsewhere. Off course, it could’ve been, had we been financially bankrupt. But the fact is we’re not. We can do both. We can build statues as well as schools, hospitals, roads etc. It must be pointed out that the statue has already started making money. In the few days since it’s inauguration it has already generated a couple of crores in ticket sales alone. A small commercial corridor is also already in place with a three star hotel due to be inaugurated shortly. The place will develop into a small township in a couple of years from now, providing employment opportunity to thousands, apart from the ones employed by the state govt currently for maintenance and upkeep of the venue.
At another level, this statue, in particular, is a symbol of our freedom struggle and our unification into a nation state that we today are. Sardar Patel symbolizes the same in all its glory. We need to remember that Symbolism is extremely important for a nation. Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, Jesus the Redeemer are all such powerful symbols. They represent the nation in people’s mind, and have a lasting impression. The only powerful Indian symbols that we had till today was Gandhi and the Gandhis. It’s high time we had some more, and real ones at that.