Monday, October 25, 2010

The Statues of Posterity

By the power vested in me by the Internet, the freedom of speech and complete and utter futility, I hereby propose a policy change in the building of statues in public places by the government, out of our tax money. But not before I lead you all to the spectacular buildup which led me to my great idea itself. A journey of the mind, if one may call it that.

Most people may argue that why build statues. They are a waste of money. I disagree there. Not exactly disagree but let's say I am only half-convinced. Here's the reason why. The latest overambitious project that a political leader has announced is The Statue of Unity, a statue of Sardar Patel, which will be twice the size of Statue of Liberty and will cost Rs. 1000 crore (approx. US $200 million).

According to a 2005 World Bank estimate, in India, if you are making less than Rs. 21.6 a day in urban areas and Rs. 14.3 a day in rural areas, then you are officially poor. Now let's assume you have decided to give away the 1000 crore as cold hard cash to people. Let's raise the bar from the poverty line and start giving away Rs. 50 a day to a bunch of people. The average lifespan in India is about 60 years. I've done the math and let me assure you, it will support about 90 people throughout their life. Hate me if you wish to but I'd rather have a Rs. 1000 crore statue, please. (Let's not forget the other means of employment that the statue will generate. Those 90 people could be employed for life and the same jobs could then go 90 poorer people when they die. And the state will figure a way out to collect some form of tax from the visitors/tourists at the statue. Income for everyone. And a statue is like a flag for a country's psychosexuality. Only more phallic.)

Not saying that there haven't been delusional for statues. Like take the Shiv Sena proposal to build a statue of Shivaji as tall as the Statue of Liberty in the sea, near the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. This delusional demand was of course sorted in the family as Raj Thackeray (MNS), on live television, said, "You need to be practical. If you build a statue as tall, you have any idea how big and long the horse will be? Where will you get all that material from? How will you transport it to the centre of the sea?" People may hate him but just by the sheer force of logic he won my heart and my non-existential vote, which I am pretty sure is misused (by impersonation) by whichever political party has the stronger foothold in my area.

We hate our politicians and our leaders. They have given us strong reasons to do so. They are our representatives. They are the go-getters among us when it comes to power. I respect that but we must accept that they're not (at) all good looking. Neither are our founding fathers. No disrespect but Gandhi, with his scrawny body and round head, was one ugly motherfucker. Ambedkar, I'm sorry, was fat. Neither would Patel have made it to the People's Sexiest Man Alive, 1947 edition.

Having giant statues of ugliness inspires more ugliness. Haven't you heard that theory about how people start looking like their parents or their dogs or other stuff that they spend a lot of time around? So do we want our future generations to be as ugly as our leaders? I'm not saying we should not read or listen to what they have to say. Their words are important and will help in building a great nation. But their looks will only help in building a great nation filled with ugly people. Why do you think Italians and Greeks are such handsome men? Their forefathers left them with statues of the Gods, naked and handsome and beautiful.

Thus, coming full circle to the change in policy about Statues (dangling modifier alert!) that we so badly need. If we are hellbent on having a statue that is twice the size of the Statue of Liberty, the least that we can do for our future generations is make it pretty. Like, how about a statue of Katrina Kaif instead of Sardar Patel, just as big and on the same location. A statue of Katrina Kaif smiling and looking down at the tourists who have come to picnic around the sprawling lawns around the base of the statue, and polaroid photographers snapping family portraits, and jalebis and gaathiyas and dhoklas and the littering. And the giant lettering across the gate and smaller lettering engraved on the foundation stone will say:
'KATRINA KAIF, Posing As THE STATUE OF UNITY, In Loving Memory Of SARDAR VALLABHAI PATEL. This foundation was laid by Shri Narendra Modi.'
'ROBERT DOWNEY JR. (in his Iron Man suit minus helmet), Posing As THE STATUE OF UNITY, In Loving Memory Of The 'IRON MAN' of India: SARDAR VALLABHAI PATEL.'

Now be good boys and girls and fill in your suggestions for statues across the country. Here's the template:
'[handsome/beautiful celebrity], Posing As THE STATUE OF [virtue], In Loving Memory Of [political/religious/etc leader who can somewhat fit into the virtue]. This foundation was laid by [political leader who proposed the statue].'

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