The biggest statue in the world ‘Statue of Unity’ is a political monument representing former Indian Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Construction began on October 31, 2013, and its inauguration coincides with the 143rd anniversary of Patel’s birth, celebrating his leadership in the country’s struggle for independence.
This mega structure was designed by the Michael Graves Architecture & Design office. The work required more than 18,000 tons of reinforced steel and 1,700 tons of bronze, calculated by the Larsen & Toubro engineers. The work has cost approximately 430 million dollars and doubled in height to the Statue of Liberty in New York.
The base of the statue is a visitor center and showrooms dedicated to Sardar Patel and the history of Indian independence; At the same time, at the height of the structure’s torso, there is a viewpoint with views of the Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary and the Narmada River.
The biggest statue in the world
The Statue of Liberty will dwarf his side. The Christ the Redeemer will seem tiny. India builds a statue, with 182 meters, double the altitude of the New York icon and quintuple the size of Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro. The largest sculpture in the world will represent Sardar Patel, one of the founders of modern India. It has been baptized as the Statue of Unity but for the time being it has created more disunity than unity.
The monumental project is a coup opened by the newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the dynasty that ruled the country for decades, the Nehru-Gandhi. The president seeks to connect with the struggle for independence by appropriating one of his most beloved symbols: Patel is, in fact, a historic member of the Congress Party, the Nehru-Gandhi Party. The tribute has aroused many critical misgivings: it will cost 300 million dollars in a country where half of the children suffer from malnutrition.
“The higher the statue, the better known India will be on the global stage,” Modi said last October when he laid the first stone of the gigantic project. The iron and bronze sculpture will be erected on the small rocky island of Sadhu Bet, on the Narmada River, in the state of Gujarat. The work will last four years and is run by the American company Turner Construction, responsible for the tallest skyscraper in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and the New York Yankees Stadium. The complex will have a museum, a research center, and an underwater aquarium.
It will be the spectacular statue
Skillful propagandist, Modi has launched a symbolic public campaign to collect metal by people from all over the country for the construction of the statue. “We want iron from your villages. But not anyone. We want pieces of iron tools that farmers have used, “said the politician who since May leads the Asian country after beating the Nehru-Gandhi their toughest defeat at the polls. Modi expects to collect 5,000 tons of iron.
The tribute to the “Iron Man of India,” as Patel was known (1875-1950), is a direct attack by the young Bharatiya Janata Party – founded in 1980 – on the official narrative of contemporary India, written by the Gandhi , which have governed the country 54 of the 67 years of its history.
Independent leader against the British, prime minister of the Interior of free India and right hand of Jawaharlal Nehru considered the father of the country. Patel is one of the members of the historical pantheon of Indian leaders. He contributed fundamentally to the creation of the new state when he managed to get 536 independent kingdoms of the subcontinent to join the Indian Union. “His name will live forever in history. He is the architect of modern India, “Nehru said of him when he passed away.
Nehru and Patel agreed on their “idea of India,” but there were differences between them. If Nehru declared himself a secularist and convinced socialist, Patel was a Hindu practitioner and was more heeled to the political right. Patel was also a nationalist and less Westernized than Nehru. Gandhi came to mediate between both leaders. The historian Alex von Tunzelmann in his book “Indian Summer” believes that the Congress Party had to be divided into two formations after independence in 1947: a left party led by Nehru and another one of the right wing with Patel at the helm.
Despite the important role played by Patel, the official narrative has left him relatively aside, as well as leaders like the untouchable BR Ambedkar, who wrote the Indian Constitution. The statues are erected in honor of Nehru or his daughter Indira. Hospitals, airports or stadiums with their names and other members of the dynasty are also baptized. The legacy of other relevant actors, even from Congress, picks up dust in the libraries.
“The Congress has focused on promoting the legacy of Nehru, Indira, and other family members. Other politicians have been ignored Modi now uses it to attack Gandhi, “he told El Confidencial Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of a biography of Modi.
The nationalist profile – exaggerated by Hindu groups – of Patel and his relegation by the Gandhi has been used by right-wing parties and religious organizations to associate his name with Patel. Until now in vain. At least until the arrival of Modi.
Sardar Patel, on the cover of ‘Time.’
The 63-year-old president has launched the most audacious attack against that narrative written by the Gandhi. An attack of 182 meters. With the largest statue in the world, Modi seeks to unite his name with that of the “iron man”: just as he is from the state of Gujarat, he has a reputation for a strong hand and is a nationalist. Patel provides him with a connection to the glorious independence struggle and offers a historical precedent to his right-wing ideology.
But the high cost of the project in a country that receives half of the poor from around the world has raised criticism. Gujarat finances most of the project, which also has private donations. The central government of Modi allocated 24 million dollars in the state budget to the statue at the beginning of July. A decision that raised the ire of those who think that this money would be better spent in alleviating the serious social problems that the country is dragging.
The statue receives more funds than the security of the woman – 18 million – at a time when the violations continue to horrify the Indians. Education for girls receives 12 million in comparison.
“If Patel were alive, he would have beaten these politicians,” wrote a young woman named Prerna on Twitter, where the #statue label became a “trending topic.”
Nehru was right. Patel’s name will live forever. At least in the Record Book of the Guinness as the protagonist of the biggest statue in the world at least until a taller sculpture is erected.