At the end of October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Statue of Unity.
the Statue of Unity is not necessarily going to be easy unless the Gujarat government invests in transportation. This means that no casual visitor, unless it is someone living in that area, is going to come upon the statue while passing by. Most people would come by the statue because they want to. I think that the Statue will attract three types of visitors.
- Most may want to see a gigantic statue; in India we seem to love big statues. Shiva statues in Nathdwara, Murudeshwar, Bijapur, Coimbatore and other places, Thiruvalluvar statue in Kanyakumari and now Sardar Patel in Gujarat just to name a few. To top it all, at 182 metres, this is going to be the tallest in the world. That is as tall as a 60 storey building!
- Some may want to get inspired: let us not forget that the Statue of Unity is “…remind every individual of our great nation’s freedom struggle but will also inspire the people of our country to inculcate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s visionary ideologies of unity, patriotism, inclusive growth and good governance.” Why they would want to see a statue to get inspired is beyond me. It is not the same as visiting Sabarmati where one KNOWS Mahatma Gandhi stayed and worked. Perhaps, to get inspired all is needed is to read some history? Not the one taught in WhatsApp and FaceBook University, the real one. But different strokes for different folks. I suppose the edifice could be inspiring to some. Like any tall structure, the grandeur is going to be visible only from a distance and I hope there is space around. I suppose there will be ‘viewing points’ coming up around the area. Statue View Hotel and all that too.
- Some may want to visit to remind themselves of what foolish expenditure looks like. Silly machismo (or toxic masculinity) has cost the taxpayers over Rs. 3000 crores. Money that could have been spent much more fruitfully. I am not saying that memorials are not important or that we should not honour our great leaders. But everything needs to be in proportion. Spending millions on what I think is a a pointless expenditure just to score political points is a cruel joke on millions of people who get substandard schools, substandard mid-day meals and substandard health services because of poor budget allocations.
So why should YOU visit? I think you may fit into any one of the three categories I mentioned.
In reality, I suppose majority of Indians are not going to visit at all. Ever. After all there are millions who have not had the opportunity and / or the desire to visit Akshardham or the Lotus Temple in Delhi (I have only picked recent monuments as example). Why would the Statue of Unity be any different?