Monday Musings: Thankfully, there’s no  grand memorial for him
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Monday Musings: Thankfully, there’s no grand memorial for him

Constructing tall statues and grand memorials seems rather outdated in this era of information technology and artificial intelligence

pune Updated: Jan 28, 2019 14:39 IST
Abhay Vaidya
Abhay Vaidya
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Monday Musings,tall statues
The world's tallest statue "the Statue Of Unity" was inaugurated overlooking the Sardar Sarovar Dam near Vadodara in India's western Gujarat state.(HT/PHOTO)

Is the greatness of a leader defined by the size of the memorial designed for him or her and the amount spent on it?

This fad among politicians seems to have gained momentum in recent years where valuable public funds are being squandered on constructing grand memorials. It is almost as if greatness is defined and measured in terms of amounts spent on memorials.

Thus, no less than an astronomical Rs. 3,000 crore was spent on constructing the world’s tallest statue. There’s Rs. 50 crore pledged for a memorial on the Marina beach to the Tamil leader J Jayalalitha, and in Maharashtra, Rs. 100 crore has been pledged by the BJP government for a memorial to the controversial leader Bal Thackeray.

There’s the Shivaji memorial statue in the sea, also planned by the Maharashtra government, which is estimated to cost close to Rs. 3,600 crore- more than what it cost to construct the tallest statue in the world!

Mahatma Gandhi neither has the tallest statue to his name, nor a grand memorial. Indeed, any such structure dedicated to him would have looked rather garish and obscene given the utter simplicity and frugality with which he conducted his life. And yet, there is perhaps no other leader in the world who has the most number of statues and roads named after him, not to mention postage stamps issued in his honour.

The smallest of towns in India has an ‘MG Road’ and a statue dedicated to the father of the nation; just as numerous towns and cities across the world have raised statues and memorials to remind people of his greatness. His words and actions inspired iconic leaders like Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela who became legends in their own right.

A leader who is truly great does not need tall statues and grand memorials to be remembered by. In fact, a memorial that is simple and dignified in its design speaks volumes about a person’s greatness than a loud, garish memorial. How else would one desire a memorial for people like Gandhi and Ambedkar?

When politicians hanker to spend crores on a memorial to a leader, one can be sure that there is politics at play more than a sense of gratitude. Grand statues and grand memorials are more of a political statement than anything else.

The Great Pyramid of Giza constructed in 2,560 BC was a truly technological feat of its time, and was the tallest man-made structure in the world for centuries together.

Rather than spending hundreds of crores on statues and memorials, it would be far more useful if our politicians spent the same money on healthcare and education for the poor. India needs good hospitals and educational facilities for the poor more than tall statues and grand memorials.

First Published: Jan 28, 2019 14:38 IST