India’s ‘Statue of Unity’ To Be World’s Tallest Statue

People visiting India make it a point to pay a visit to Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders in the world. But, in another four years or so,...

People visiting India make it a point to pay a visit to Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders in the world. But, in another four years or so, they will have one more wonder to view. And that will be the world’s tallest statue, coming up in the western Indian state of Gujarat. To be named ‘Statue of Unity,’ it’s being constructed to pay glowing tributes to one of India’s greatest heroes, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. As the first home minister of independent India, Patel was entrusted the challenging job of uniting more than 500 princely states and the Gujarat-born leader did it quite successfully, which got him the nickname “Iron Man of India”.

However, in a country where major issues are not allowed to remain free from political controversy, the 182-metre tall statue has already kicked up a raging debate involving the ruling Congress party, of which Patel was a towering leader, and the main opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), particularly at a time when the world’s biggest democracy is going to polls in 2014. The chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, who is also BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, has glorified Patel as a Hindu nationalist leader and as someone who could have led the country much better than the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.


That was enough for Congress party to engage in a war of words with Modi’s BJP, and currently both the parties are busy including the statue issue in their agendas during political campaign. While Modi has openly criticized the Congress for not offering Patel the position he deserved, the ruling party has wasted no time to accuse Modi of introducing his pet project with an eye on Hindu vote-bank. Although Patel was a prominent Congress leader, he’s also seen as a vital Hindu nationalist personality, which appears to have prompted Modi to give shape to the project in his home state. Modi’s main rival in the forthcoming parliamentary elections is Rahul Gandhi, son of late Rajiv Gandhi, and great-grandson of Nehru.

Rahul’s mother Sonia has not been contesting elections after the BJP branded her as a foreign national. Incumbent Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh is completing two five-year terms, and is all set to pave the way for Rahul to take over the mantle.

Tourist Attraction and Symbol

While the statue, coming up at Kevadia, about 170 kilometers from the city of Ahmedabad, is estimated to cost 25 billion rupees, or $300 million, Modi has made an appeal to the farming community in the country to come forward and donate scraps of metals to help in construction. During the foundation stone laying ceremony on Thursday, Modi called upon farmers from all the villages spread across the country to contribute whatever is possible to make the project a grand success. “We have asked farmers from every village in India to give old pieces of their agricultural tools, just 200 grams or 400 grams would do,” he said inaugurating the function. He said the statue, when completed, will bring immense pride to India. “People come to see the Taj Mahal, flock to America for the Statue of Liberty and France for the Eiffel Tower. Now, people from all over the world will come here to see this wonder,” Modi said amid thundering applause.

Statue of Unity, which is expected to be double the height of Statue of Liberty, will be constructed by Turner Constructions, who built the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. When completed, the statue will be taller than the present tallest statue in the world, Spring Temple Buddha in China, by 54 metres. What remains to be seen is whether Modi happens to be the Prime Minister of India when his pet project is commissioned.

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