Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Statue of Lunacy

The Statue of Liberty is an iconic representation of the USA, greeting visitors as they touch its shores.

If Mumbai's politicians have their way, India will have it's own such statue - one of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the great warrior king. Shivaji is probably one of India's greatest homegrown historical heroes, and also the historical figure most misused for political gains today.

The statue will stand 2 kilometers into the sea, off the coast of Mumbai. It will rise over 300 meters (about 30 storeys) and will be accessible only by ferry, a la the Statue of Liberty.

All that's fine and well, but here's the rub - the project is estimated to cost a whopping Rs 100 crore. That's 1000000000 Indian Rupees. This, from a state government that is already reeling under debt worth an estimated 2 lakh crores (2000000000000 Indian Rupees). But not to worry, the Government has done its homework. When questioned, the Chief Minister apparently sought to reassure the public about the sound financial planning behind the decision with the statement, "That (100 crores) is not a problem in our budget. It's for Shivaji Maharaj after all!" Wonderful.

Enough has been said at various forums about the urgent need for development works in Mumbai. The 100 year old drainage system that needs an overhaul and not annual patchwork. The suitable clearing and resettlement of slum lands to provide relief to the space-starved city. Large scale transport infrastructure projects to reduce the crippling pressure on the local train systems (there are grand plans for several arching bridges - a la the Bandra Worli Sealink - a metro and possibly new bus systems). And the urgent upgradation required of the water systems to curtail losses from leaks and pilferage (which some estimate at as high as 40%). Outside of Mumbai, farmers are committing suicide due to lack of support for agriculturists in hard times, and Maharashtra has one of the worst records among India's states for child health and malnutrition. And there are a host of other issues, I'm sure.

And what does the government do? Pour taxpayers' money into an unnecessary statue. Now Shivaji was a great leader, and deserves to be celebrated... as he already is, with thousands of statues and memorials across Maharashtra. But even he would be appalled at the sheer lunacy of this scheme. In spite of all the ways this money could be put to better use, the State Government has considered it prudent to greenlight this ambitious proposal.

Good governance and good sense is tossed out the window in the face of political posturing. Idiots.

Well, if Mumbai can put up a larger than life statue of Shivaji, we in Chennai can do it too. Won't it be awesome to see this statue rising out of the sea just off the Marina?

Sivaji!

17 comments:

Vivek said...

Mottai Rajni rocks! :)

Nandini Vishwanath said...

ROTFL :)

But, seriously, the systems sucks!

AC said...

@Vivek: Indeed he does :)

@Nandu: Such is life :(

shrik said...

Nothing would be as imposing or have as lasting an impact as a massive statue of Captain Vijaykanth :D

pnoasnidtiinvie said...

AC, there is a fundamental error when you compare statue of liberty with the proposed shivaji maharaj's statue....
the statue of liberty was presented to the U.S by the French :) In fact, the gentleman who engineered the Eiffel tower (Gustave Eiffel !) contributed to this as well (you can read the Wikipedia article on statue of liberty for further info...) .

Now I really doubt if someone will offer our country such a generous gift ;)

I've been to NYC and took the ferry/ship tours to the statue of liberty....pretty neat ! The skyline is really nice too....thats because I viewed it from far off....the moment I entered the heart of manhattan, my views changed completely and i decided that i wouldnt want to stay in this place ever :)

pnoasnidtiinvie said...

And hey, you've chosen the absolutely right person for the statue, but I would have preferred something from his more hit movies (such as Baasha, Annamalai, Padaiyappa). I get that you're going with the whole "shivaji" vibe thoughh....pretty neat :)

Arun Sundar said...

Politician losers! Every state in India should have a statue, reckon its statutory (or whatever!). Good creativity there having Rajni :)

AC said...

@Shrik: Oh yeah :) Maybe we can have a line of statues of cult classic actors - Rajni, Captain, maybe TR... It would make the Marina a pilgrimage spot :)

@pnoasnidtiinvie: I'm comparing them purely as large man made objects off the shore of a country's largest and/or most important cities... but you're right, it isn't American in origin the US didn't really have to pay for it, while I SERIOUSLY doubt any country would want to make us such a gesture (and the one's who'd want to - say, Mauritius - would never be able to afford it!

AC said...

@pnoasnidtiinvie: And yeah, I think Baasha might be the most iconic... I also considered Sivaji Ganesan, but settled for this instead.

@Arun: Sometimes, I wonder if a little monarchy wouldn't be a good idea for us :)

Sheks said...

LOL @ the pic :-)

Such things happening in Maharashtra amidst Sena gimmicks like proposal to rename vada pav as 'shiv vada pav'.Vada pav(am)!

AC said...

@Sheks: Do they really intend to rename the vada pav?! Jobless, ideology-starved buggers...

Sheks said...

I myself am not sure.Appeared in TOI some time last month.Should we really trust TOI?

pnoasnidtiinvie said...

AC: I was kinda surprised to learn that Mauritian Rupee is actually stringer than Indian Rupee! But their GDP (approx. $17 billion) is about 1/245th of India's. The purported cost of the statue is Rs. 100 crores, which is about $23.3 million. so yes, it would be hard for them to afford a gift of that magnitude to us :)

AC said...

@Sheks: Never! :)

@pnoasnidtiinvie: Wow! One knows one's blog has arrived when a reader actually does research before posting a comment :)

Sheena Deviah said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha(slapping hand on knee)

Anonymous said...

no one is there to question

AC said...

No one in the political classes, at least. It's sad.