Dear PM Modi, how will Shivaji and Patel react when they see their statues?

PM Modi, if they could magically reappear in flesh and blood on the Indian soil, how would Shivaji and Patel, icons of India, respond to being cast, nay imprisoned in stone?

Written by Ujjal Dosanjh | Published:December 25, 2016 10:06 am
narendra modi, Shivaji, Shivaji memorial, narendra modi mumbai, Shivaji narendra modi BKC, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, india news, indian express Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during the foundation stone laying ceremony of the two metro corridors and other projects, at Bandra Kurla Complex, in Mumbai on Saturday. (Source: PTI)

Dear Prime Minister,

You are once again thrusting India into the dangerous politics of statues; the politics of pandering to regional and other identities; the politics of turning real heroes into the lifeless steel and stone kind — for any pigeons to freely relieve themselves on; the heinous politics of clever, but criminal distraction from the life and death issues of poverty, corruption, injustice and inequality in India.

A couple of years ago it was in Gujarat that Sardar Patel and his important legacy for modern and secular India were commandeered by you for political purposes. He was one of the tallest warriors and leaders of the Independence movement. No tribute could ever fully express the debt India and Indians owe him. But you decided to reduce that tribute to the so-called tallest statue in the world, commissioned at a cost of Rs 3000 crores ($440 million US), a significantly large amount of money, that Patel would have said, could be put to better use for the basic needs of Indians. To make matters worse, the proposed artificial lake around the statue would submerge 12 square kilometres of land that could be utilised for many other more useful purposes in a country that boasts grinding poverty at least for a third of its citizens.

Prime Minister, now a statue of another important historical figure is being requisitioned in the service of the politics of statues. It is none other than the highly esteemed Shivaji whose legacy too is being confiscated for the politics of pandering. His statue is being brought to us by you, as was the Patel statue. It is estimated to cost Rs 3600 crores (about $500 million US). And to satisfy your own penchant for the dramatic and the grandiose you have decided to outdo yourself by ordering the Shivaji statue to be 190 metres high — a full 8 metres taller than Sardar Patel’s statue. Shivaji and Sardar Patel are held in the deepest respect and sky-high esteem by Indians. The stone and steel statues can’t ever plumb those depths or ascend those heights. The government you head, of political panderers, is seeking reflected glory by erecting statues of the heroes gone by. It matters not to you that the government’s stony dreams will, just in the case of Sivaji’s statue alone, negatively impact — and may in fact destroy–the livelihood of 1.5 lakh fishermen with 1500 big and 400 small fishing boats.

Prime Minister, we know the budgets for such projects are notoriously and upwardly elastic. These two statues would probably cost close to $1.00 billion US, give or take a few million. What this money could buy or do to improve Indian lives is a legitimate question. If you cared enough to scour and scan the pages of newspapers in India, you would find them replete with statistics about what this money could do for health, education, sanitation of Indians or for the plight of the drought affected, debt ridden and suicide committing Indian farmers.

PM Modi, if they could magically reappear in flesh and blood on the Indian soil, how would Shivaji and Patel, icons of India, respond to being cast, nay imprisoned in stone? One can — I am sure you can too — imagine them literally taking bulldozers to the statues in progress, Sardar in Gujarat and Shivaji in Maharashtara, calling them economically and ethically grotesque and politically treacherous. In your mind’s eye, aren’t you able to picture them speaking to the entire Indian nation urging an end to poverty, injustice, inequality, corruption and the politics of corrupt pandering? I can see myself listening to the giants in silence, feeling dwarfed by their brilliance and dedication to India, and you in mute bewilderment, shocked by their utter rejection of the planned statues.

Prime Minister, India is littered with statues including those of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Ambedkar. None has made an iota of difference in the economic fortunes of ordinary Indians. The lifeless replicas of Indian heroes in marble, stone, steel or bronze can’t hear the wails of poor toddlers trying to sleep on hungry stomachs in the dead of winter in the shanties, under the flyovers, at railway stations or anyplace else they have to call home in the very difficult journey of their young lives in the corruption laced society. Shivaji, Gandhi, Patel and Ambedkar would be appalled by your government’s heartless splurging of national wealth on any statues. They would brand them a waste of scarce resources of a country in which over a third of its population lives below its’ less than life-sustaining poverty line. Statues wouldn’t lift a single life out of poverty, wipe one tear off an anguished eye, offer a moment’s respite to a life destroyed by corruption’s unlimited cruelty or give succour to a single soul tormented by injustice or inequality–they would say. They would be the first to argue for the ‘surgical’ and total destruction for their own and others’ statues.

And Prime Minister, if they — Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Dr. Ambedkar and Shivaji — could together come back to earth today, they would realise that you are spending Rs 6600 Crores of Indians’ hard earned money for nothing more than your own political popularity and for the statues to acquire and accumulate nothing more than grime and bird droppings. Since they all had a healthy and robust sense of humour, they would mock their own statues in unison by quoting Ettien Bonot de Condillac, the 18th Century French Philosopher:”The statue is… nothing but the sum of all it has acquired”. And we all know what a statue acquires.

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    ansuman
    Jan 16, 2017 at 8:57 am
    Both patriot will be humbled by the gesture.This is high time our true icon are recognized. As far as cost is concern -no cost is high cost for awakening national pride.
    Reply
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      Anonymous
      Dec 25, 2016 at 9:27 am
      Article written with intended malice. towards both Sivaji and Sardar Vallabhai. We who respect them welcome the statues so that the next generation will remenber their good deeds for the country.
      Reply
      1. A
        Anonymous
        Dec 25, 2016 at 9:34 am
        Writer follows politoc of hatred a mark of the current congress party.
        Reply
      2. C
        Chander Pal
        Dec 25, 2016 at 8:39 am
        Some time back i travelled from hydrabad to interior towns. You will be greeted by statues of Ambedkar, Rajiv hi and NTT at the entrance of each and every village or district. Don't know how many statues of single term PM could travel so far. Height of Hippocracy of these sick sickulars.
        Reply
        1. J
          Jim
          Dec 25, 2016 at 12:39 pm
          Pre$$ute didn't complain when ghandy parivaar was epitomized in umpteen statutes, schemes etc
          Reply
          1. S
            SURESH
            Dec 25, 2016 at 12:03 pm
            FUNNY WHEN PEOPLE LIKE YOU TALK OR WRITE ABOUT HARD EARN MONEY. MR. JOURNALIST YOU MEAN GENERATE BLACK MONEY BECOME CORRUPT ARE PERMISSIBLE. DO SCAM AND LOOT THE COUNTRY BY CONGRESS ARE ALLOWED WE HAVE NOT SEEN ANY REPORTING BY YOU WHEN SCAM AFTER SCAM WERE HAPPENING UNDER DR MANMOHAN SINGH AND CHIDAMBARAM BECAUSE IS IT FOR 10 JANPATH OR HIGHLY EDUCATED ARE ALLOWED TO LOOT.WHAT A HYPOCRISY AND SYCOPHANCY. JAI BHARAT/HINDUSTHAN
            Reply
          2. S
            Sarfraz Khan
            Dec 25, 2016 at 5:27 am
            Accurate opinion! I'm sure written by one but representative of millions. I'm from stan and could also see similar lavish expenditures which could best be put to use elsewhere. We do lack such thought provoking writers. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;On a larger note - I wish people of both India and stan understand that only if we keep political motives aside; our basic needs are the same and a 'joint' effort could help us develop together.
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              Prit
              Dec 25, 2016 at 6:02 am
              I wonder, how these statues being sponsored by Govt of India (Tax Payer's Money) going to improve lives of citizens of country. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;These Politicians with myopic vision and Brain are going to completely destroy this nation. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Better this money could have been used for making Schools n Hospitals which can be used by mes.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Pity on citizens who are supporting such activities.
              Reply
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