Building tall statues is not a sign of development and progress

Jun 23, 2019-

The Vyasa Area Development Committee is planning to build a 108 feet tall statue of Maharshi Ved Vyasa--the author as well as a character in one of the greatest epics of the Hindus--Mahabharata--on the premises of Shiv Panchayan Temple in Damauli, Tanahun. Designed to be made out of copper, the committee has estimated the total cost of construction to be Rs620 million. The plan further includes constructing a Vyasa gram to embody the complete life story of Vyasa, small idols, Buddhist library, a shopping complex, and picnic spot. While the concerned authorities opine that this plan is administered to identify the land of Ved Vyasa and promote tourism, the locals are sceptical as the statue’s whopping budget could definitely be used for better things.

The budget earmarked for the construction of this tall statue is not a small amount. There are still shortcomings in clean water, irrigation, health care and education in many places in Tanahun district. It would have been a lot more prudent to spend the money on these things rather than build a tall statue when it is not even sure that spending so much will help attract tourists. If enhancing tourism is the intention, the area already has a cave where Vyas was supposedly born. The cave already has a spiritual value. If anything, the focus should have been on promoting the cave and the area as a place for a spiritual gateway, and this can be done without a 108 feet statue touching the sky.

The idea of building grand statues is very much inspired by the activities of leaders from India. For India, 2018 seemed like the year of statement statues for the ruling BJP government wherein it spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build the world’s tallest statue--The Statue of Unity--which portrays Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and is nearly 600 feet tall--about twice the size of New York’s iconic Statue of Liberty. But the Indian government is not done yet, as the Shivaji statue in the Arabian Sea is now set to be about 26 feet taller. The country might have set records by building the world’s tallest statue but that has come at the cost of great displacement of people and disgruntled farmers who would be rather happy had the government ensured water supply as it had originally promised.

Development is not about building big statues and view towers. A place becomes developed only when it facilitates people, and makes their lives easier. To make them deprived of their livelihood and environment is contrary to the aims of development. The concerned authorities need to set their priorities right and decide on the important areas where it can spend money first. The statues and picnic spots can come later. The construction of skyscraping statues of no practical utility is not a sign that the country is marching towards development and progress.

Published: 24-06-2019 07:00

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