There seems to be no limit to the ambitions of politicians to create grandiose projects that have no benefits to people. One example comes from India where the prime minister Narendra Modi has pushed for the construction of a massive statue in the Indian Ocean, about 4 km off the coast of Mumbai.
The 192-metre statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji, a medieval Hindu ruler in the western state of Maharashtra who fought the Muslim Mughal dynasty and carved out his own kingdom, is expected to be completed by 2019.
To be built at a cost of about $530m, it will be more than twice the size of the Statue of Liberty and five times higher than Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
This is not the first time that a large amount of taxpayer money has been set aside to build a massive statue or memorial to a popular leader in India.
In 2014, shortly after Modi became prime minister, the national budget set aside about $34m to build a massive structure to honour independence leader Vallabbhai Patel.
That project is under way in Modi’s home state of Gujarat and once complete is expected to cost about 10 times the amount set aside in the budget. The rest is expected to be filled by private and corporate donations.
The new project is facing strenuous objections from environmentalists who say that it is being built in a prime fishing area and those who say that the money could be put to much better use.
The fact that the statue commemorates a ruler who fought against Muslims is likely part of the appeal to Hindu supremacists like Modi and his followers.