Published: 31st October 2018
The government spent 2989 crore on the Patel statue, it could have paid for 41 lakh kids' education
During the inauguration, Modi urged critics not to dismiss his government's efforts to pay tributes to icons like Patel with 'political prism'
Prime Minister Narendra Modi just inaugurated the Statue of Unity or the Sardar Patel statue, which is set to be one of the major tourist destinations of Gujarat. It has a 3-star hotel, a shopping mall, a research centre, high-speed elevators which will take you to a height of 400 feet from where you can get a panoramic view of the Narmada and Satpura-Vindhyachal hills. But what the statue won't be able to do is feed almost the whole of India a meal and still be left with Rs 1181.08 crore with which 16 lakh kids can be provided elementary education in government schools for a year — that's what India could have done with the total amount spent on the project, say people who are a hurdle on the road to development.
We spent Rs 2.989 crore to build the world's tallest statue to realise Sardar Patel's dream of making India an 'empowered, sensitive, and aware country'. This might be a smart investment and could generate revenue that could later fund several welfare schemes. But that's all in the future. Here's what we could have done with that sum instead, right now:
A simple meal with pulses and carbohydrates, like rice, bread or maize with seasonal vegetables and onions cooked in vegetable oil and local spices would cost around Rs 13.50 in India, according to a report by the United Nations, World Food Programme. It would take Rs 1,807.92 crore to feed the entire population of India (approximately 133.92 crore in 2017) and that too would just be 60.5 per cent of Rs 2,989 crore. We could feed 82.4 per cent of India two such meals.
The public sector has to spend around Rs 7,268.15 for the elementary education of a student. Vallabhbhai Patel's statue could have paid for 41.13 lakh kids' education.
An average IITian spends around Rs 2.7 lakhs per annum as tuition fees — Rs 10.8 lakhs for a four-year programme. The Unity Statue could fulfill almost 27,676 aspiring engineers' dream to study in IIT, free of cost.
During the inauguration, Modi urged critics not to dismiss his government's efforts to pay tributes to icons like Patel with 'political prism'. Paying tributes to Sardar Patel, the Prime Minister said the towering statue will serve as a reminder about the courage and firm political commitment of a man who brought in unity among all princely states in 1947 and later and thwarted efforts to disintegrate India.
Built on Sadhu Bet Island on Narmada river, the imposing statue is twice as high as the 93-metre Statue of Liberty in New York and surpasses China's Spring Temple Buddha by about 29 metres.
"At times, they give an impression as if by remembering the contributions of great sons of India like Sardar Patel is an offense. Is it an offense?" Modi said.
The remarks from the Prime Minister came even as critics and a section of citizens on social network and microblogging site Twitter have tried to suggest that showing tributes to the legacy of Patel was akin to election gimmick.