Should governments be investing in big statues?

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Do we need massive structures serving minimal purpose?

 

Everyone loves magnificent buildings like the Bosco Verticale in Milan. Especially since it also serves also as a structure that hosts a number of trees placed vertically. I loved the building so much that I even wished they would build something similar in India.

Unfortunately, we are still stuck in the pre historic time of using precious material on a massive statue. If a Statue has to be built, it should have some decent design in it. Let it not serve as a tool to siphon away government finances. Make it a value added project. Add some trees around it or something.

Firstly, why am I writing this blog. To merely add new content to get visitors or was there some real inspiration to write something concrete on the web?

 

Trolling like a school boy, Blogging like a school Teacher

Here is my inspiration. Trolling like a silly school boy on Facebook actually allows me to learn a lot. Like stuff really happening back home in India. In this case, I came to learn about an expensive Rs. 3,600 Crores or 36 Billion Indian Rupees or about 500 million USD worth mammoth 192 meters tall statue to be erected near to two of the largest slums in Asia.

Considering the dismal condition of a lot of people living in Mumbai, many have reasons to believe that the government lacks clear thought on how to ideally spend its budget when it decides to allocate big funds on such special projects that merely serve as eye candy in attracting tourists.

To look at this decision from a top-down perspective, we can maybe differentiate the positives and the negatives of the idea after first understanding where the large sum will go.

Ideally, I would prefer a brilliant idea of a mega structure that can bring in the tourists and also serve the people more directly. Something  like a beautiful vertical urban jungle that will add to the city’s greenery and also attract Selfies.

Evaluating building a massive statue as an Investment

  1. Firstly, what are the Hidden Costs:

    • 500 million USD will be spent in setting up the massive structure. More expenses will go in assuring security, maintenance etc.
  2. Understanding the purpose of investment:

    • Why do we need this huge statue? Considering the structure is a massive statue, most of the amount will go to the raw material instead of design. The Chinese are on a similar massive statue building spree in order expend massive surplus. India too has realized that the Chinese are more efficient in such monumental construction.
    • The “Unity Tower” structure to be built in honor of Sardar Vallabhai Patel may have got considerably outsourced to the Chinese. They could offer specialization at a cheaper price. Even if the Shivaji Statue may be Made in India, we are sure to be facilitating loads of business to Chinese companies. They just seem to provide the best value for money service these days. Any thing that is purely Made in India, may also be more expensive. Until we get more efficient. Do we really want to pay China for a massive statue?
  3. Corruption in simplicity of projects:

    • Of the money spent, most of it may have gone in concentrated pockets. As a Statue is still not as complex as a massive building. Buildings host people and thus help create wide spread massive consumption in the local economy. The value addition is merely in attracting tourists, who may come, stay, eat, do prayers and leave. To see the inflow of tourists from such activity in bringing perpetual cash flows, that after being discounted will exceed 500 million USD is a distant dream. Especially, as you deduct the recurring costs in maintenance and security.
    • If the entire Statue project involves buy raw materials from a few players, then chances of corruption is ripe.
  4. Boost Employment with unnecessary construction?

    • Employment wise, there will be some job creation. But this idea is still very primitive to be treated like the optimal usage of resources.
  5. Lastly, the maintenance of a giant structure:

    • Looking at famous roman sculptures in ruins at the National Roman Museum, Statues have a life span  and limited benefits.

      Should governments be investing in big statues? National Roman Museum
      Should governments be investing in big statues? National Roman Museum

Better ways of investing 500 million USD?

  1. Firstly, Its preferable if the government can hit multiple birds with one stone.

  2. Stress on value addition in terms of skill from skill usage and not material usage.

    • Lets us try to spend more on what we have in abundance. Ensuring the money to be distributed among the people directly involved digitally. By proper planning  you can hinder the window for corrupt practice boosting accountability.
  3. Stress on local expertise in design and architecture to showcase the very best of what India has to offer.

    • Treat the investment in a long term perspective. Plans to continuously organize events and activities to make the project a cash flow surplus success. Ensuring that such expenditure is a part of a larger tourism plan. Instead of every one making random decisions better organization is needed. Planning of optimal tourist investments in the city will lead to better results.
  4. Finally, 500 million USD could easily be used to create an educated population .

    • that will do multi fold in boosting tourism in India in the future
    • We already have a lot of monuments and splendid structures. Adding one more while ignoring the problems affecting the others is immature.

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