Skip to main content

Statue of Unity? Expressionless, unconcerned with Sardar's fight for farmers, tribals

By Ravi Kuchimanchi*
My main problem with the statue of Sardar Patel is that it looks like an enlargement of a passport size picture. It may be the tallest statue but does it make an impact? Built to mimic a photograph, devoid of any artistic license, with hands to the side just dangling doing nothing, this is the statue that is supposed to depict unity and pay homage to Sardar Patel.
If we look at the Statue of Liberty with the torch held up in the air, it conveys the thrill of freedom. A Gandhi statue with his long stride and the walking stick conveys motion -- depicting the movement that brought us Independence. A statue of Mother Teresa shows the love and care in her face for the orphan child in her arms.
 An Ambedkar statue with a finger pointing the direction we are headed with India's progressive constitution in his other hand pays homage to the person who headed its writing. A meditating Buddha statue fills us with peace and tranquility. The 50-inch statue of the Fearless Girl in front of the Charging Bull on Wall Street may be tiny, but shows the power of women.
Thousands of crores of public money have been spent on a statue that is supposed to show unity, but fails to depict it in its look. Instead it appears to stand as a symbol of how much has gone wrong in the Narmada valley and in our nation. It shows a Patel who appears to do nothing for the adivasis and farmers inhabiting the Narmada valley from where they have been uprooted to pave the way for the large dam and the statue. It appears to show the iron will of the state that humbled and humiliated a river valley civilization that surrounds it.
The Sardar Sarovar dam is one of the largest dams in the world -- it could have been smaller displacing far fewer families, considering that the upstream dams already hold Gujarat's share of Narmada waters anyway and are legally obliged to release it throughout the year in a regulated manner. But the governments and courts chose not to listen to the voices of the Narmada valley people.
The Sardar Patel statue could have been a true homage, respecting the people of the Narmada valley, built along with their artistic tastes and talents, if only the state had not seen the people's struggle as being something to be unjustly dealt with, but as something to really integrate into our planning and rebuilding processes. Surely then it may not have been the tallest in the world, but it would stand head and shoulders above this one in its impact.
Sardar Patel was a freedom fighter who integrated many territories under the Indian union after independence. India has artists and sculptors that could have done something much more imaginative, than just build a huge statue that shows the power of the state over the people in a region that witnessed one of the greatest non-violent movements against state excesses post independence.
Sardar Patel's idea of a United India likely went beyond his desire to merely see a contiguous map of India. One can only guess that his vision of unity, justice and governance included everyone and especially, the most marginalized. Sardar Patel was a towering figure who inspired a generation of Indians. 
Like his life, a memorial for Patel could have served as a model for the future - in how it looked, in what it stood for and most of all in the humility with which it was built and integrated into the local region, so that there would not be thousands of displaced families opposing it.
---
*Founder, Association of India's Development, charity organization, based in US

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

Sweden-backed study: India won't achieve 2030 UN goals, officials can't recognise SDG

By Rajiv Shah  A Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)-sponsored study, carried out by the advocacy group Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) India, seeking to analyse the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 12, Responsible Consumption and Production (RCP), has regretted, it is "very unlikely" India will achieve any of the targets of SDG 12 by 2030 "unless some serious measures are taken by the government to reverse the present trend."

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

Stop harassment, release Kashmir rights defender Khurram Parvez: Global NGO

By Our Representative  Ahead of his hearing on January 21, 2022, CIVICUS , a global civil society alliance with more than 10,000 members worldwide, has called upon the Government of India to “immediately and unconditionally” release human rights defender Khurram Parvez. “The judicial harassment he is facing highlights the repressive environment for activists and critics in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir”, it said in a statement.