General view of the "Statue of Unity" portraying Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the founding fathers of India. (REUTERS/Amit Dave)

by Amit Roy

MANY people in India seem to be ungrateful to prime minister Narendra Modi who, just
months before a general election, has gifted a 597-ft (182 metres) tall statue, costing £330 million, of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, home minister in 1947, to the nation.

I once went to the Greek island of Rhodes to do a story on the Colossus of Rhodes, a 106ft
statue built in 280 BC, but which crumbled in an earthquake in 226 BC. Some enterprising
tourism promoters claimed a large boulder recovered from the sea was a remnant from the
original statue.

But Prof John Barron, the affable English classical scholar with whom I had travelled, took
barely five minutes to pronounce what had been found as a fake.

Will Patel’s ‘Statue of Unity’ win Modi any votes? For the time being, big is not necessarily beautiful.

Maybe with time, public acceptance of what is now widely seen as a blot on the Gujarat
landscape will grow.

Ramachandra Guha, the historian and Gandhi’s biographer, tweeted: “Sardar Patel would
have been appalled by the crude boastfulness of the ads in his name in today’s newspapers – that his statue is taller than any in China, America, Japan. That is certainly not how Sardar would have measured national dignity and self-respect.”