STATUE OF UNITY
When I say “Iron Man”, does a super-hero image pop up in your mind? Let me be clear regarding the one I’m talking about. The Iron Man of India, Bharat Ratna Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is one of the most prominent freedom fighters. He brought together around 562 princely states into the Indian Union without bloodshed and thus the colossal statue built in his memory is called the Statue of Unity.
The Statue of Unity is the tallest statue in the world built at the Sadhu-Bet Island facing the Sardar Sarovar dam in Narmada district of Gujrat. The statue stands 182 meters (597 ft) tall designed by Indian sculptor Ram V. Sutar.
It was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi on 31 October 2018, the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
“Manpower without unity is not a strength unless it is harmonized and united properly, then it becomes a spiritual power.” – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
“Statues to great men are made of the stones thrown at them in their lifetime.” – Jean Cocteau
STATISTICS– What Numbers have to Say?
- The Statue of Unity is 182 meters high which is almost twice the height of the Statue of Liberty (93 meters). The tallest statue record was previously held by Spring Temple Buddha in China (153 meters).
- The project contract was undertaken by Larsen & Toubro for its lowest bid of Rs. 2,989 crore for construction, design, and maintenance.
- The height of 182m was specifically chosen to match the number of seats in the Gujrat Legislative Assembly.
- In the first 10 days, the Statue of Unity generated around Rs. 2.1 crores of revenue attracting around 1.3 lakh tourists.
DESCRIPTION – Let’s take a Deep Dive
The construction of the Statue of Unity has been a topic of debate considering the cost of construction and time invested in it. The statue was built by the Public Private Partnership model, with most of the money raised by the Government of Gujarat.
Let us take a look at the features and facilities provided at the Statue of Unity. The base consists of a museum and a memorial garden depicting the life and times of Sardar Patel. It also has laser, light and sound shows on the efforts of Unification of India. A dedicated research centre has also been set up.
The statue is an engineering marvel but does a developing country like India need larger than life statues? Is it a symbol of pride or just another strongman showmanship?
Like every coin has two sides, this does too.
Benefits/Pros of Statue of Unity
- The Statue of Unity is the largest statue in the world making it unique and represents India on a global level attracting tourists.
- The construction has created various job opportunities in the locale resulting in the prosperity of the state.
- The statue not only signifies the contribution of Sardar Patel in the Indian freedom movement but will also influence and inspire people with his thoughts inculcating oneness.
- With an increase in tourism, various facilities like transportation, accommodation, hotels, and restaurants will increase and thus increasing employment opportunities.
Disadvantages of Statue of Unity
- The cost of Statue of Unity was equivalent to around 90 per cent of the central government’s annual budget for the skill development and entrepreneurship ministry.
- For a developing country like India where basic facilities like roads, education, health, etc are in very poor conditions, the building of the expensive statue was opposed.
- The construction of the humongous structure was seen as an act of display of nationalism by the government at the expense of other priorities.
- The nation was affected by natural calamities and all this money could have been put to better use for rescue and relocation of the affected.
- Contribution of all the people in the fight for independence has been valuable and it is a little unfair to glorify only a few leaders and that too for political benefits.
With the vast diversity of religion, language, culture, and tradition in India, the Statue of Unity stands strong. It has created job opportunities by attracting tourists but such extravagant amount of money if allotted to research work, health and sanitation, education and basic facilities would have created a difference in the standard of living. Inculcating ideas of the great is necessary and should be done but not at such cost.
What has been done cannot be changed but we can avoid future investment into colossal statues if our children don’t have books to read or we don’t have pot-hole free roads to ride on.
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Author – Mitali Shingne