Thursday, September 3, 2009


Immortalisation comes before citizen’s life, for a few states!

For the past few years now, the nation is observing a new phenomenon from the political class. And that being a vehement attempt to immortalize themselves by constructing their own statues! Had the case been that it is the civil society out of their gratitude towards their leaders, building these statues, it was still acceptable. But here the leaders are on a binge to shamelessly construct their own statues. The frontrunner in this brigade being the current CM of Uttar Pradesh, Ms. Mayawati! Going by reports, it is estimated that UP alone has spent over Rs.15 billion on statues and parks and is planning to build and install nothing less than a staggering 10,000 statues!! In its supplementary budget for the year 2009-10, the UP government has allocated nearly Rs.7 billion for memorials and new statues! Particularly for a state like UP, which score so poorly on human development index, this kind of expenditure looks absolutely outrageous! This is not only sheer waste of money that could have bettered-off lives of millions of poor people but had come heavily on the environment too. In the horde of building statues, the government allowed the authority to cut around 20,000 trees in Noida alone! It is obscene to waste so much public money on such unproductive purposes when so much was needed to be done to uplift the socio-economic status of the underprivileged population of the state, who are being blatantly ignored!

This is not just confined to the state of UP alone but have its presence in Maharashtra too. Mumbai wants to spend Rs.350 crore on Shivaji’s statue so that Mumbai becomes a world-class city. Th e government’s argument — The statue will be an answer to the famous Statue of Liberty! But then why do we forget, that there is so much to New York other than the Statue of Liberty? Why is it that we forget that the Statue of Liberty was never made by Americans but gift ed by French when they left their shores? And why do we forget that other than statues a world-class city should necessarily have basic infrastructure and amenities – which seems to be completely missing from the agenda of most of these ministers. Like UP, even Maharashtra is facing huge social upheaval. Farmers (in region like Vidarbha) are committing suicide, there are 27 drought-declared districts, malnutrition and infant mortality is still rampant in the state. These leaders when confronted with these problems try to buy their proposal citing examples of Gandhi, Nehru and the likes. But then to be fair, those leaders were leaders in its true sense and have earned it by sacrificing their self to the nation. And most importantly they didn’t go about installing their statues in their lifetime. Most of them were installed either by followers or party workers and the Government of India in honour of those leaders who left a bequest. In this light, even the contribution of Dr. Ambedkar can’t be denied, but the fact is that Ambedkar has been given his due tribute by naming the Constitution after him and also many streets, monuments and colonies across the country.

Globally most governments engage in building monuments and not statues — which later attract tourism. It is no secret that the states of UP & Maharashtra, urgently need to mobilise investments towards rescuing the farmers from drought. In addition to that the centre should seriously think of issuing directive and implement Supreme Court’s law more strictly in order to prohibit the states from using state funds to install statues or memorials. The work on these statues can wait but work for people can’t. It is pertinent for the states to realise that statues do not have life and life is not a statue. And this is what is cast in stone!


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