THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

India’s billion-dollar battle

INDIA: The world’s biggest statue is rising in a remote corner of India to honour an independence hero but it could quickly be outdone by a monument to a Hindu warrior king in the sea off Mumbai.

constructionculturepoliticsreligiontourism
By AFP

Sunday 9 September 2018, 12:00AM


This photo taken on Aug 25 shows the under-construction ‘Statue of Unity’, a monument dedicated to Indian independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, overlooking the Sardar Sarovar Dam near Vadodara in India’s western Gujarat state. Photo: Sam Panthaky / AFP

This photo taken on Aug 25 shows the under-construction ‘Statue of Unity’, a monument dedicated to Indian independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, overlooking the Sardar Sarovar Dam near Vadodara in India’s western Gujarat state. Photo: Sam Panthaky / AFP

In a burst of nationalist fervour, around US$1 billion (B32,743bn) is being spent on the two giant effigies, each more than twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

A 182-metre-high tribute to independence icon Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat state will be the first to dwarf the Spring Temple Buddha in China, currently the world’s biggest statue at 128m in height.

Pick-axes are also swinging for a 212-metre-high likeness of 17th-century king Chhatrapati Shivaji, resplendent on a horse and brandishing a sword, which should dominate the Mumbai shoreline from 2021.

An army of 2,500 workers – including several hundred Chinese labourers – is toiling around the clock to put 5,000 squares of bronze cladding on the figure of Patel so it can be ready for inauguration on October 31 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 29.9-billion-rupee (B14,079bn) ‘Statue of Unity’ overlooking the isolated Sardar Sarovar Dam is a pet project of Modi.

He has predicted it will attract “hordes” of tourists, as the Statue of Liberty does in New York.

Visitors will be able to access a viewing gallery 153m up – about chest height on the huge standing figure.

But they will have to travel 250 kilometres from the state’s main city of Allahabad to get there.

There is also a political motive to the mega project, with India heading into a campaign for a national election early next year.

Patel was deputy to India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru after independence in 1947 and Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party says his name has been unfairly overshadowed by the dominant Nehru dynasty.

Patel became known as the ‘Iron Man of India’ by persuading – through talks and a hint of force – some 550 princely states to become part of India after independence from Britain in 1947. He died three years later.

Many Hindu nationalists feel it was a slight when Patel was asked to step aside to let the secular Nehru become the country’s first leader.

“Every Indian regrets Sardar Patel did not become the first prime minister,” Modi said while campaigning in 2013.

“Modi has used Patel’s legacy a lot in his election campaigns,” said Ghanshyam Shah, a former professor of class politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

“He is very likely to use the Statue of Unity during the upcoming campaign but I am worried about how it will influence voters,” Shah added.

The opposition Congress party says that a plan to change the Nehru Memorial museum in New Delhi into a centre devoted to all of India’s prime ministers is another bid to taint Nehru’s name.

In 2016, Modi laid the foundation stone in Maharashtra state for the statue of Shivaji, a hero of the 80 million strong Marathi community based in the state.

Hindu nationalists have also adopted Shivaji, who made his name battling the Muslim Mughal empire. Critics say the 36-billion-rupee (B16,863bn) statue is a way of winning Marathi votes in next year’s election.

Fuelling the fervour, the government announced last week that the word Maharaj, or king, had been added to the title of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

“The BJP has been appropriating icons for some time,” said Sudha Pai of the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

“Patel has been used to wipe out the Nehru legacy. The BJP wants to change the way history is perceived and show that the right wing was as important in India’s freedom struggle.”

Preliminary work has started on the controversial project – with a museum, park and helipad – on reclaimed land two kilometres out to sea.

Environmentalists and thousands of fishing workers oppose the statue because of the threat to fishing stocks.

The price of the monument is certain to rise, analysts say and the state government has already changed the design to bring down costs.

How it will eventually look and when it will be finished remains in doubt.

India’s statue politics often fall victim to “hard economic reality”, according to Badra Narayan, a professor at the Pant Social Science Institute in Allahabad.

An overrun is inevitable, according to I.C. Rao, head of a Mumbai citizens’ group, who has questioned the cost and safety of the Shivaji design.

He said finishing the statue on time, would be “an impossibility even for the Trojans”.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
New Zealand mosque attack suspect charged with murder

3) Yes, we all know that Bryant was convicted. Facts ? It is still early days & a lot more inves...(Read More)


New Zealand mosque attack suspect charged with murder

1) Mental Condition as per Section 32 of the Mental Health Act "cognitive impairment"--an...(Read More)


Woman killed by sleeping pickup driver

So many crashes, injuries and deaths for such a tiny island, it's like russian roulette out ther...(Read More)


New Zealand mosque attack suspect charged with murder

Ok, ok, ok, no facts that the gun man had a 'mental' condition??? So, normal to kill 50 peo...(Read More)


Polish hotel owner charged after threatening staff with gun

A polish man with a tourist visa, stays in another hotel, married with thai lady, owns a hotel? Thre...(Read More)


New Zealand mosque attack suspect charged with murder

The posts don't make any sense. There are no facts which suggest the gunman had a "mental c...(Read More)


Power outage to leave Cherng Talay, Kamala, Srisoonthorn without water

Inventive! Using many power outage to block people having water supply during hot days. Covering th...(Read More)


Tourism Authority of Thailand expects 2.3mn visitors for Songkran

Idea! TAT should internationally inform tourists to bring their own water for Songkran celebration,...(Read More)


Woman, 26, crushed by water truck on Kata Hill

Police shows incompetence. How hard is it to find out which hotels in that area order a watertanker...(Read More)


Premchai jailed for 16 months, not guilty of black leopard charge

Every thai has the right to appeal. Right. Has every thai the financial means to appeal with a goo...(Read More)