‘Statue of Unity’ is Beyond the Petty Logic of Economics; It is ‘once in a while’ Moment of History
         Date: 31-Oct-2018
When France envisioned building the ‘Statue of Liberty’, the French economy was in a bad shaped when compared to that of present- day India; still they went ahead!
-Aabhas KM
 
Today we celebrate 143rd Jayanti of the man, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who weaved India into a sweater which comforts us today. Till moments before Pandit Nehru was to give his famous midnight speech, India was like open yarn with ever sovereignty seeking 563 princely states. But it was the effort of our Iron Man to whom every moment I feel to thank when I enter different parts of the country without any barrier. It was indeed a great decision by the Government of Gujarat to symbolise the principal designer of India through a monument large in size yet far lower than what Sardar gave. His contributions are like priceless gem which none can ever quantify.
 
 
Statue of Unity 
 
The monument has been named as the ‘Statue of Unity’ and has already started making faces frown and brows bend. And why shouldn’t they for the fact that this one monument isn’t overshadowing all great Symbols around the globe but also all the numerous Nehru Family memorials. But I must tell them that symbolism and expressionism hold the key for any progress to transpire. A symbol motivates, inspires and makes one proud every moment and every day. I want them to recall history of art movements. Though Modernism spoke of rational state of mind and even great friend of Nehru Le Corbusier perceived buildings just as machine to live in, he creates various symbols including the very famous abstract of five fingers.

 
To embark the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the tallest statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat 
 
The whole lot of Communist were behind creating larger statues, monuments and buildings than other. You believe me or not but that’s the reason why concrete became a popular material and the liberals loved it. Though Pandit Nehru wanted Chandigarh not to speak of past and tradition, the city speaks of something. It speaks of Le Corbusier if not India which one would easily know if he knows the man.
 
Statue of Liberty Vs Statue of Unity
Now without hovering here and there, let me bring you to the core purpose of this essay. I’m sure all my liberal friends will agree with me. There has been lots of ruckus about the fact that we are not economically stable enough to afford the grand statue. Then I want to ask the complaining lot that why you never felt appalled for the great Statue of Liberty. It was built by France and Installed in America when former was going through the Long Depression. Despite the economic crisis both France & America saw it like penicillin though acerbic in taste but imprudent to set the spine right.
The total cost of the Statue of Liberty was $ 527,699.49. That was the period when France was second last in rate of growth amid 12 developed nations of time (ref Angus Maddison). France was facing following:
 
1. 3/4th of the French people earned living through farming.
2. 3% of women lived on Street
3. 53 % women lived in undesired housing.
4. France was to pay 200 Franc Millions to Germans
5. Paris Brouse Crash of 1882 had affected France badly and had to withdraw 3 Million Euro from the Bank of England following which French stock prices collapsed terribly
6. French Capital Accumulation & Foreign Investment plummeted to lowest
7. Post-Franco Prussian war, the destruction of French Banking industry wrought by the crash cast a pall over the financial sector that lasted until the dawn of 20th century.
8. The French NNP kept declining
9. French finances sunk by falling investments
 
Having presented the economic condition of the country in the time when it built the Statue of Liberty, I now look to do basic maths relating to the investments for the ‘Statue of Liberty’ and ‘Statue of Unity.’
 
The GDP (PP) of France during 1870-80 was $ 72, 100 billion (1960 rate) while the total cost of Construction was $ 527,699.49. The current GDP (PP) of India is $ 10.385 trillion while the cost of construction of Statue (only without maintenance) is INR 1347 cr. Now if we do a basic maths of finding what percentage of GDP (PP) was used for the construction of the two statues, it comes to be following:
 
• 0.73 % (Statue of Liberty)
• 0.017 % (Statue of Unity)
 
Definitely France was in a deeper economic crisis than whatever the liberal economic Pundits think for India. Of-course we all know where France stands today and the French and American people may better explain what role just a symbol played in making them what they are today. Human interface is an emotional being & has ever been drawing inspirations from symbols since time immemorial. Had France witnessed sadist like them who are ever questioning the Sardar’s one can imagine where they could have stood.
(The writer is a well-known architect)