A statute for statues?

Kinjalk Pancholi Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2018 (19:32 IST)
Centuries ago the infamous realist Machiavelli reiterated the gospel truth of human civilizational history that “have no relation to morals.” Still ironically, the compulsions of modern democratic polity require the politicians to embalm themselves in a façade of morality..

If it was not to be, how would the modern day electoral victory of a political party be different from marauding yet victorious army of a medieval ruler? Intoxicated by the decimation of their opponent, the victor unassumingly self-proclaimed the right to plunder and loot the vanquished. 

That was the glory of seizing ‘power’ in its brute raw form.  To capture is not only to feel contented but power needs to be celebrated and necessarily be exhibited dramatically and publically.

It is through the lens of basic human nature, we should see the naked aggression of a in southern bulldozing to ground a of Lenin. It was simply an assertion by the new powers to be. Expressing power would never be poetic, restrained or composed. It has always been loud, brazen and revolting.

The winning party ascribed to the incident as an “overflow of anger.” The phrase could be used to rationalize any act of vandalism and it seems the BJP cadres have been in a perpetual state of anger since it all began in 1992 when, not a statue but a mosque was demolished to placate majoritarian sentiments and with successive tastes of power, their anger seems on a rise rather than subsiding.

One may ask if it indeed was an act of anger, would the large hearted BJP leadership ensure the statue be restored at the same place soon and not be replaced with a Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s? Sadly, the political culture in our country has not evolved to that extent.

Rather the right wing intellectuals would cleverly use this as a pretext to launch their tirade against and the communists. The naked act of vandalism would be forgotten and go unpunished. Rule of law would remain intact on paper.  Enforcement authorities crippled and demoralised. Statues of Periyar and Ambedkar are next in queue as per the news reports.

Yes there is much to disagree with Lenin. But as an informed citizen, as a rational and objective reader, it would augur well for our democracy that we internalize _ history reveals itself in shades of grey. It’s never completely black or white, righteous heroes (hindus) versus degenerate villains (Muslims/foreigners) as the right wing assiduously paints it out to be.

Moreover another question merits attention – the relevance, utility and public expenditure incurred in creation of statues or commemorative places?

Ironically, it seems communists themselves floundered on economic rationale of creating such statues. If the communist goal was to create a just and equal society, it certainly doesn’t justify glorifying a leader, however tall he may be in form of a statue or a memorial
Erecting public statues and larger than life memorials is more relatable to the fascist thought where perpetuation and deification of one supreme leader by the sub serving masses is the expected end result of the power struggle.
Suppose as a society we can’t give up our love for public spectacle in form of massive statues of political leaders, can we at least regulate it by law? Such as how big the statue ought to be in order to satisfy our collective pride?  How much should we spend on such projects?

Reports suggest the on-going project of massive 182 m tall statue of Sardar Patel would cost more than 3000 crores. That’s big amount of money for the poor.

Sadly, the poor would remain poor and occasionally be exhorted upon to win an election and demolish a statue, only to be replaced by even grander statue of a leader who would then be epitomized as the saviour of the poor!