Statue of Unity : Do we need it at all? Is India neglecting its poor?

Statue of Unity

The tallest statue on the planet will be inaugurated on October 31, in India. Shouldn’t that a matter of pride for us as Indians? But there are many who have strong objections to the statue.

‘There are people who are hungry and homeless, and the government is spending on a mute statue,’ they say, adding, ‘we need development, we need schools, we need hospitals. Farmers are dying.’

In most cases these are the very people who boast about their profile pictures clicked at the Statue of Liberty, Christ the Redeemer, Spring Temple Buddha, et cetera. But when their own country decides to have its own monument that one can be proud of, they offer resistance. Why? Do we not deserve better things?

The sadistic pleasure a particular ecosystem derives through ‘hate’ is something I shall never be able to wrap my head around. They must think Europe and the United States have no poor, no one there is unemployed, that slums are found only in India. Not true. There is no country on the face of earth that doesn’t struggle with its share of poverty, but only we love to glorify it.

No nation can prosper by giving away freebees to its people in return for nothing. If it resorts to such practices, the Treasury would run out in no time, and the entire country and its economy would crumble. Those who will pay the heaviest price would be the tax-paying middle-class: you and I.

For a country to grow and prosper, overall development is a must.  After education you need employment. The government needs to and must provide for that. And it’s not as though education is being neglected: when budgets are planned, every sector is allotted a share after prolonged deliberations. One among them is tourism, which is a major revenue generator and contributes immensely to the national GDP.

In the past couple of years, we have witnessed a refreshing growth in this sector. We recorded a footfall of 10.18 million tourists in 2017 alone, which is 15% more of what it was in 2016. Growth in tourism creates numerous employment opportunities: airlines, railways… even the local rickshaw-pullers. Owners of restaurants, hotels, messes, dhabas to roadside eateries – all witness growth in business, and thus hire more people, thereby creating employment.

The Statue of Unity would employ people as guides, security personnel, maintenance workers, museum attendants and more. There would be artisans who would sell replicas of the statue to tourists, who carry mini-statuettes of our leader back to their country. Spend a minute processing that.

It’s been four centuries since the construction of the Taj Mahal, but the seventh wonder of the world still earns in billions for India every year. Can you imagine what amount of money the tallest statue in the world would make if marketed well?

Now going back to the weaker section of our society: it’s not that they are being disregarded. The government of this country – be it led by the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party – has always worked towards the upliftment of the vulnerable. To provide for their education, health and other necessities have always been central to India’s growth plans.

Here are some schemes of the Modi government for the poor:

  • Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojana was launched to alleviate poverty through skill development in rural areas.
  • The target of building 10 lakh houses for the poor, all equipped with toilet, electricity, LPG connection and drinking water under the flagship of Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana – Gramin was achieved by December last year.
  • To ensure 100% financial inclusion, over 22 bank accounts have been opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. This scheme was aimed at benefiting the BPL members of the society who do not have bank accounts.
  • Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana covers lives of the needy. For a Rs 330 premium, a coverage of Rs 2 lakh is being offered.  Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana is an accident insurance that offers a coverage of Rs 1–2 lakh against a premium of Rs 12.
  • GoI runs several micro campaigns for the welfare of the poor population through the Garib Kalyan Yojana.
  • Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana was launched for the underprivileged youth in rural India, and places them in vocations that would ensure jobs with regular monthly income.
  • Another ambitious scheme designed for the welfare of the girl child is the Pradhan Mantri Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana. Parents can save for their daughters and these savings would gain an interest of 8.5% and receive tax benefits.
  • The Atal Pension Yojana appreciates old age income for financially challenged citizens. It encourages workers in the unorganised sector to enroll themselves for a pension plan ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000.
  • AMRUT Yojana aims at developing the infrastructure of 500 Indian cities and has generated employment opportunities for skilled laborers.
  • As for farmers, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana covers their production and Pradhan Mantri krishi Sinchai Yojana aims at increasing their income by making irrigation facilities better.

We are not neglecting anyone. We are only acknowledging that the one leader who remained neglected for the longest time needs to be given his due. No more will he go unheralded. On October 31, we unveil to the world, the statue of the Iron Man of India and an eminent leader of the Indian Independence movement, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.