“Icon-based development”

No I am not talking about what the WWE does with The Rock or The Beast.

I’m quoting BJP officials in Gujarat talking about their plans to build the world’s tallest statue.

For realz.

“a huge new monument set to rise on a rocky island in a river surrounded by jungle in western India will dwarf them all. When the planned 590-foot-high tribute is done, it will stand roughly twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty. The subject of this soaring veneration: the late Indian independence leader Vallabhbhai Patel.  Elevators will whisk up to 10,000 visitors a day to an observation deck in the statue’s chest, builders say. There are also plans for what local leaders call “icon-based development”—including helipads, research facilities for fish farming and educational institutions.”

Sure because what statue in an isolated area wouldn’t just automatically generate economies of scope with fish-farms and schools?

People, I have to really question the Indian educational system. Check how the BJP describes the genesis of this “development project”

“Our question was: What kind of monument can generate the most public welfare?” said K. Srinivas, the state’s top civil servant. “We started looking at the statue’s potential in a scientific and methodical manner.”

I also think they may be slightly overstating the tourist draw this colossus will be:

“Local bureaucrats in the Indian state of Gujarat—the spot where the monument is to be built—say the huge statue has the potential to draw 12 million tourists a year, about twice as many as the Taj Mahal.”

As of now, the public budget for the project sits at $530 million. All I can say is that if this the best way for the government to spend half a billion, Gujarat must be a lot richer that everyone seems to think!  At least in the US when we government boondoggle big sports stadiums in the name of development, we put them in already existing cities and we do it from a position of wealth far greater than that of the state of Gujarat (with a per capita GDP of around $2300 in 2014, it’s above average for india but desperately poor for the US. Mississippi is the poorest US state and its per capita GDP in 2012 was $33,000).

2 thoughts on ““Icon-based development”

  1. a correspondent (i.e. not me) writes: “The statue is, in a nutshell, a political project to appropriate the legacy of Vallabhbhai Patel (a Congress leader in his day) for the BJP. Just about the opposite of funny Gujarati civil servants, it was led with determination by Modi when he was still CM of Gujarat to be used as a very blunt but effective weapon. Gujarati civil servants are pros and they talk a good game about the economic benefits if somebody asks, which is what they should do.”

  2. and a p.s.

    – the argument should be that they’re blowing $500m on a political ploy because they think it’s going to firm up their electoral prospects. That’s very cynical, a bit evil even, but it’s really just about the opposite of dumb.

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