What a colossal waste


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.

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    …about 4 km off the coast of Mumbai.

    So, barely visible from land on a clear day.

    No doubt Modi has cronies planning boat tour enterprises.

    But the eventual wreckage of it will make a great backdrop when Bollywood does a singing, dancing remake of Waterworld!

  2. blf says

    This petition-bait, Is building Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial “waste of money”? Probably Not, so irritated me with its comparisons to the Statue of Liberty I attempted to leave the following short comment:

    The Statute of Liberty in the US was a gift from France. The US only had to provide the land and the base, the statue itself was designed, built, and paid-for by the French. It is also secular, unlike this anti-Islamic provocation.

    However, I don’t have an appropriate comment-enabling account, so nothing is posted.

  3. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#3:
    But the eventual wreckage of it will make a great backdrop when Bollywood does a singing, dancing remake of Waterworld

    And if anyone ever does a movie based on Shelly’s poetry, they can use it as backdrop.

    I know you guys all know it, but what the heck, it’s worth dropping:

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains: round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

  4. A. Noyd says

    Good thing we have such strong conservative governments around to protect the people’s tax money from wasteful spending on things like healthcare, secular education, or sanitation.

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    … and five times higher than Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.

    That’s not saying much. The CtR statue is not all that large, it is the mountaintop site that makes it impressive.

  6. busterggi says

    You know, you could just build a webpage about it with a lot less cost and more people will see it.

    But…

  7. deepak shetty says

    There seems to be no limit to the ambitions of politicians to create grandiose projects that have no benefits to people.

    It will be useful to some people. I expect a good number of politicians and their builder buddies to make a tidy sum.

    The fact that the statue commemorates a ruler who fought against Muslims

    Im not sure that Sardar Patel can be classified as “fighting against Muslims” – He was a nationalist to be sure and harsh in his dealings but I believe think that was uniformly the case (rather than an anti-muslim bias). But my reading of history will also be colored from what I was taught – anyone have links that say otherwise ? (google searches are mostly inline with my views). He’s credited with keeping Hyderabad in India which probably explains the appeal to Hindu fundamentalists.

  8. Ravi Venkataraman says

    IIRC from my history lessons. Shivaji was not celebrated because he fought the Muslims, but because of his victories against larger armies. One must note that the article linked to is from Al Jazeera, which will obviously put a spin on it that favours their ideology. From the Wikipedia article on Shivaji:
     
    “Shivaji established a competent and progressive civil rule with the help of a disciplined military and well-structured administrative organizations. He innovated military tactics, pioneering non-conventional methods which leveraged strategic factors like geography, speed, and surprise and focused pinpoint attacks to defeat his larger and more powerful enemies.”
     
    That is reason enough to celebrate a historical figure.
     
    While it is important to remember and cherish local historical figures of importance (rather than derive our history from Western textbooks or Al Jazeera), I agree that spending $330M on a massive statue is not the way to go. That money can be spent on other things that could prove more useful in the long run.

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