Above: Photo Credit PIB
By Dilip Bobb
There is something called a statute of limitations, which apparently does not apply to statues of icons. Now that India can boast of the world’s tallest statue, the sky is literally the limit. In Gujarat, cement and steel have combined to change the national narrative, elevating the Iron Man to a point where he looms larger than the republic which he, according to the narrative, single-handedly unified. The Shivaji statue in Mumbai will follow soon while many others are being planned which, right wing or wrong, will see all Indian hearts filled with, well, something. Read on to see which statues are in India’s future.
Narendra Modi: Iron Man2, as in the sequel, in word and deed, and no one needs to measure his chest size—it is preserved for posterity and to intimidate all pretenders to the throne. Some jealous political rivals have suggested it be called Statue of Disunity but Modi has remained stone-faced and continues to tower over the political landscape like, well…, Nehru, or Gandhi and another Gandhi, till they were all overshadowed by Sardar Patel. The statue, as currently depicted, will be shown leaning to the right and wearing a Modi jacket (another downgrade for Nehru), with arms extended as if preparing to hug someone of equal stature.
Rahul Gandhi: This will be an engineering marvel since the statue needs to be shown expanding and shrinking in size depending on things he says, the outcome of state elections or the length of his holidays abroad. The sculptor will need to depict him in many shades—secular but also devout Hindu and everything in-between. The statue, when constructed, will also need to have a canopy overhead to protect the subject from bird droppings.
Amit Shah: Another towering personality who has shown himself to be deserving of a prime position for historical icons. Size does matter in his case since the statue, when built, should be higher than the Supreme Court—his recent aggression on the Sabarimala issue is in defiance of the apex court. There will be some confusion about the circumference of the proposed monument—Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan taunted Shah for his rotundity after the latter threatened to topple the duly elected government which enjoys a two-thirds majority. The image that comes to mind is a statue leaning over precariously since Shah is best known for the toppling game.
Delhi Gate: One already exists in old Delhi but that was built during the Mughal rule (by the same guy who commissioned the Taj Mahal), so it needs to be demolished to make way for a new one which best represents the capital today. After much head-scratching and head-butting between state and Centre, it has been decided that the proposed statue be shown standing between a rock and a hard place and bear some passing resemblance to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Sadly, it will not be possible to see his face since it will be hidden behind an anti-pollution mask.
#MeToo: In honour of all those brave women who have dared to bare their stories of sexual abuse. It will show a male figure, diminished in size, and, like Hans Christian Andersen’s emperor, wearing no clothes but strategic areas covered in a fig leaf so as not to offend impressionable young female visitors. Sculptors working on the project are looking at a replica of another emperor called Akbar or a self-confessed bon vivant who has been said “OK Tata” to by his biggest client.
CBI: Originally meant to depict a caged parrot, now more resembling a flight of blackbirds with feathers flying in all directions. Since that will be difficult to depict in statue form, investigations are on to find a single representative image. One suggestion: a headless figure leaking from all sides with another figure resembling finance minister Arun Jaitley trying desperately to plug the holes.
RBI: The Central Bank already has a statue outside its headquarters, the Yakshini sculpture, depicting wealth and prosperity, but the more appropriate symbol is the tiger, on the Reserve Bank seal. Following recent events, however, the tiger seems to have been tamed and made to resemble a lamb. Whatever the final decision on what shape the statue should take, it will definitely have to be shown badly shrunk in size and stature.
Sarkar: After the Sardar, the statue that deserves to be erected, as opposed to elected, is the Sarkar, often described as Mai Baap, or the One Who Must Be Obeyed. One hand holds a sword, to cut down political enemies and perceived anti-nationals elements like JNU, NGOs and harmless historian Ramachandra Guha. The other hand holds a shield, meant to deflect all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, as the Bard predicted. The statue will thus be made of Teflon, meant to endure unscathed till 2030, as another bard (as the Bengalis pronounce it), Ajit Doval, predicted.