The issue of installation of statues has of late been in focus in the media. There was the announcement sometime back to install a statue of Sri.Vallabhai Patel costing several thousand crores of rupees in the Narmada River in Gujrat.
The latest is the announcement regarding installation of a statue of Shivaji Maharaj in Mumbai.
Historically in our country there was no precedence of installation of statues for human beings however mighty or powerful he/she was. We have only Temples built for various Gods in the Hindu culture and Churches built by Christians with the images of Christ, Mother Mary, etc. The Muslims had their Mosques but because they did not believe in Idol worship there were no installation of any idols or statues. The Sikhs worship only the Guru Granth and not the idols of their Gurus. The Parsis worship only The Sun. Even in the mighty and imposing Temples built by the Hindu kings only their names were inscribed in some corner of the precincts and nowhere are there a statue of the King who got it built. In most cases even the name of the Sthapathis who actually designed and executed the construction was not inscribed. This is true of the great kings of South India like Cholas, Pandians, etc and the great Emperor Ashoka of North India who is famous for the rock edicts and various other Kings all over the country.
We also find in the temples built recently in the past 50 years or so in various new colonies and town ship the names of the donors along with the amount contributed by them are painted or inscribed on the walls, foot steps etc. even of small amounts like Rs.1000/-
Probably the ‘culture’ of installation of statues of Humans was brought into our country by the British rulers. They started putting up Statues of their Kings and Queens in various places under their control. They also put up statues of their Military Commanders and Generals.
After our country got independence the politicians carried forward the ‘culture’ of the British and started putting up statues of Mahatma Gandhi and later on other ‘Politicians’ after their death. Uniquely we have recently seen one of the living politician putting up a large number of own statues.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS ‘CULTURE’?
We have seen above there is no historical background in our country. We have just continued the practice of the British without any reason or rhyme.
These statues are put up using tax payer’s money.
They have led to controversies due to the likes and dislikes of the supporters and opponents of the particular politician. (Statues have been put up mostly for politicians only).
Statues have been put up in open spaces. They are not maintained regularly. They are spruced up only for the person’s birth and death anniversaries and the politicians put a garland on the statue using a long pole. They are dirtied by birds like crows, sparrows, and pigeons etc which make these statues their resting place. It is really pathetic to look at the statues on other days.
They have been damaged by vandals and miscreants and in many cases leading to agitations and riots.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
Remove all statues from public spaces.
If at all a statue is to be installed a Bust of the person can be kept inside a building which could be a public utility building like a Library, School/college, community hall, convention hall, hospital etc.
The tax payer’s money should be used for the greater good of the public for the construction of public utility buildings and not merely for the installation of the statue. If at all a statue is to be kept it should be kept in a place inside the building only. The building also could be named after the person.
The Tax Payer’s money should be used for socially beneficial activities like providing free education, health care and housing facilities rather than on putting up statues which do not serve any purpose.