On 31 October 2018, India has been honored to become home country of one of the grandest commemorative architecture in whole world i.e. “Statue of Unity”, world’s tallest statue with a height of 182metres (597ft.) with a building cost Rs 2,989 crore (US$ 420million).
It’s a tribute to ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’, who played a very crucial role in integrating 562 princely states under the Indian Dominion to maintain peace, harmony and unity. He was the one who unified and uplifted India’s feet to stand as one Nation post-Independence. His efforts during and after Independence crowned him with different titles such as ‘Iron Man of India,’ ‘Patron Saint of India, ‘and ‘Unifier of India.’
As our Honorable Prime Minister said, “The world’s tallest statue would remind the entire world, the future generations about the courage, capabilities and resolution of the person who did this holy work of thwarting the conspiracy to disintegrate Mother India into pieces.”
“This (statue) is a source of unity…with this sentiment that we should march…. and march with a dream to make the country ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’ (One India, superior India),” he added.
But at one side where our Prime Minister was busy in honoring and expressing his gratitude toward this legendary man and rewarding our country with such an aw-inspiring gift, the other side opposition parties, their leaders and the so called liberal media was busy in fussing, grumbling about this whole idea.
Main opponent Mr. Gandhi blamed this idea by saying that it has been done to woo a specific caste and community in Gujarat state as well accused Modi government of ‘Treason.’ Several people and the political parties criticized the expenditure for the statue over other priorities like women’s safety, education and agricultural schemes. Even an UK MP, Peter Bone called this (statue of unity) ‘Total Nonsense’ and added that UK should do away with giving aids to India.
But what’s this fuss is all about? Is it because first time India has witnessed something on this grand scale? Is it because Mr. Modi, a BJP chief is inaugurating and celebrating the credibility and greatness of a Congress leader who doesn’t belong to the dynasty of Nehru and Gandhi? Is it because opponent parties don’t like to celebrate the eminence of such a charismatic leader and always wanted him and his memories to be back seated. Or is it really the cost?
Although, this is not the first time when a public monument is getting criticism over its grandness and cost. The most apprehensive example is “Spring Temple” of China. The second tallest statue in the world now “Spring Temple Buddha” in Lushan county of China, had also been criticized as “Buddha Mania” because of its grandness, gold and cost (which took 11 years to complete, stands more than 208 meters tall, is plated with 108 kilograms of gold, and cost an eye-popping 1.2 billion yuan to build).
Another example is a very popular and world-famous’ Statue of Liberty’ (officially called Liberty Enlightening the World) which had also faced an uphill climb regarding its financing and criticism of the statue itself designed by sculptor ‘Frederic Auguste Bartholdi ‘with assistance from ‘Gustave Eiffel’. There was grumbling that France should have also provided the base for sculpture including other parts as the statue project unfolded in the 1870s and 1880s amid severe economic depression and labor unrest in the United States.
But both monuments are now world famous and celebrated. These monuments are one of the most visited places by tourists. Both monuments have their enormous effect on their respective societies, traditions and culture since decades.
Now the Spring Temple is just not a statue, it represents a culture, a tradition, a way of life, a sense of living which has mingled with Chinese Soil. Now China has got a worldwide recognition with maximum number of Buddhist followers and missionaries. It has shaped the cultural aspect of Chinese society on a very wide level which can be felt just by having a glimpse of The Spring Temple. Similarly, ‘The Statue of Liberty: Transcending the Trivial’ has continuously enlightened inspired and encouraged everyone either an American or Immigrant visiting United Sates of America. And now it has become a monument of American national unity, political liberty and freedom around the globe.
Even in Indian History from Mughal Architecture to British Imperialism, every tomb, fort, palace, parks and museums, all of them were built and preserved to glorify their legacy, their era, their power, which has been carried from generation to generations.
During Congress regimen of 50 years several monuments, parks, museums were built on the name of Nehru and Gandhi. Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh Mayawati had built Ambedkar Memorial, Ambedkar Stupa, Bahujan Samaj Prerna Kendra and her own sculpture with Kanshi Ram to mobilize and immortalize the legacy of Dalit icons . As anyone can take a deep dive into Mayawati’s vision and its execution in Lucknow on such a grand level in a very interesting article by Dr. Melia Belli Bose: ‘Monumental Pride: Mayawati’s Memorials in Lucknow.‘
Now what everyone needs to understand either opponent parties or biased media and fellow citizens that any public memorialization (sculpture, colossal, monument or memorial) especially of that grand scale like ‘The Statue of Unity’, is not just a sculpture made of bricks or cement or gold or any metal, for which anyone could count it’s worth in term of money. It is something which carries a legacy,a charisma, a vision, a glory of that person and his time.
These colossal are like golden historical souvenir to pass that legacy through decades, keeping them alive in everyone’s heart and for coming generation to know about that person, his/ her qualities and achievement. It is something to which we can look at and get inspired, encouraged, overwhelmed. It is something which stays inside our heart from decades to decades get transferred through generations. It’s an honor and privilege to be a part of legacy of such a charismatic leader, which must be rejoiced not reviled.