Statues serve as historical mannequins that manifest the contemporary tradition, culture, and even notable achievements of great personalities of any particular era. The world has evolved over this fundamental principle over time.
These showcase infrastructures were very relevant at one point in human civilization when there was no technology to reflect the aesthetic features of a particular civilization, and they were economically planned to avoid a splurge of resources.
Mainly because most of such historical mannequins were carved monoliths rather than alloyed or metal casts, and very importantly most of them were moderately sized, (with a few gigantic structures).
But in the present scenario, political flaunting has been a tool to savvy the masses by staging the clown show of economic development, cultural promotion, and historical reminiscence in the name of constructing flamboyant architecture and imposing statues.
Except for a few very rare instances of stone-carved statues, every statue installed in public spaces is a metallic or metal-ceramic polymer (or alloyed).
Depending on the sculptor and material used and the specifications of a life-sized statue, the cost can range from ₹1 lakh to ₹20 lakh.
But the cost skyrockets from tens of crores to thousands of crores if the statue is gigantic.
Cost analysis of a few gigantic effigies
1) Kempegowda statue
- Inaugurated on:- Still under construction.
- Location:- Bangalore international airport.
- Height of the statue:- 108 ft.
- Weight of the statue:- 2,200 tons (Bronze).
- Total Cost:- estimated at present ₹85 crores.
As of now, there is no plan to commercialize the visits to this statue, but from a broader perspective, the statue serves no economic gain except for publicity.
2) Statue of Equality
- Inaugurated on:- 5 Feb 2022.
- Location:- Hyderabad, Telangana.
- Height of the statue:-
- Weight of the statue:- 700 tons (panchaloha).
- Total Cost:- ₹1000 crores.
- Cost of ticket:- ₹150 – adults; ₹75 – kids (5-12 years).
- There are no exact figures regarding the number of visitors, but approximating that 1000 visits per day (visitors of other tourist spots nearby).
- And assuming that every visitor is an adult, so far the revenue generated stands at ₹150 x 30,000 x 365 = ₹164.25 crores which needs 7 years to completely recover the investment.
- Further, when the cost of maintenance, wages to workers, decrease in the number of visitors due to a drop in popularity, and the consistent rise in inflation will extend this recovery period beyond 10 years.
3) Statue of Unity
- Inaugurated on:- 31 Oct 2018.
- Location:- Sardar Sarovar dam, Kevadia, Gujarat.
- Height of the statue:- 182 m (597 ft).
- Weight of the statue:- 67,000 tons (Steel + Bronze + Concrete).
- Total Cost (including the pedestal and ancillary structures):- ₹2989 crores.
- Further, ₹2.64 crore was spent on advertising as of 2019.
- Additionally, ₹2 crores were spent on the construction of a 30 ft Dinosaur statue beside the former, (which collapsed within a month).
The statue certainty certainly holds a global reputation to be the tallest in the world, however, it is important to calculate the economic benefits out of the profit earnt. As this is the main objective behind installing any major infrastructure.
The approximate charge of a ticket (assuming that every visitor is an adult and they buy both the entry and observer deck tickets) is around ₹550. This analysis might benefit the economy of Gujarat.
As per the official figures from the Ministry of Tourism says the revenue generated in the ticket was:-
- ₹247.89 crores in 2017-18,
- ₹302.34 crores in 2018-19, and
- ₹277.78 crore in 2019-20 (April – January).
So, if ₹250 crores are the annual average till 2022, the happy news claims that the total investment of approx ₹3000 crores can be recovered within 15 years.
But, this is completely hypocritical, although other sources claim that the visits to the statute also help other sectors, like the hotel, shopping, etc., there are equal arguments to counter them.
- Every infrastructure, in its debut to the public, will be in a vogue during the initial days, and then the populism gradually reduces, this is also seen in the case of other monuments like the Taj Mahal and Fatepur Sikri.
- The local visitors to these monuments have gradually decreased over time.
- And this shall also be the case with this statute, indicating that in the future only foreign visitors might fuel the revenue, which might be less probable.
- The annual profit (average) of ₹250 crores isn’t considering the wage paid to the staff and the regular maintenance cost of the statue.
While the Statue of liberty incurred $6 million annually to maintain its shine and an additional $96 million to renovate it, and $321 million to renovate the Ellis Island of the statue.
When this amount is equated to Indian parlance it nearly accounts for ₹5.2 crores.
- Further, assuming there is 150 staff (non-technical) employed with ₹350/day as their wage (as per Gujarat government data), the annual charge on wage payment for up to ₹2 crores.
- When there is a consistent rise in inflation, the above expenses rise substantially, so even if the ticket charges are hiked, with the dropping popularity among the local visitors, the loss kicks in.
On the whole, taking 15 years to completely regain the investment might be very chancy for a developing economy like India.
- Resentment among the farmers and locals:-
- The local farmers have alleged water shortages in the catchment area where the statue is located.
- Further, around 75,000 tribal settlements across 72 villages in Gujarat’s Narmada district, were affected during the construction, and most of them have migrated.
- The rehabilitation has allegedly not been completed in 19 villages.
The total investment on these three edifices are ₹4076 crores.
In every perspective these statues don’t yield larger returns than the investment, similarly, on the other end, there are thousands of public effigies and edifices of great personalities, freedom fighters, and social workers accounting to thousands of crores.
There are a good number of other requirements that can be met at the same time;
- Had we saved nearly ₹10,000 cores on all such statues, we could have invested in the semiconductor chip manufacturing plant in our nation, but recently in Oct 2022, the Union government was able to allocate only ₹10 crores in this domain.
There are other nations like U.S, E.U, South Korea, and Japan who have invested nearly 10 times more than India and yet progressing at a slow rate, and we are expecting to have a chip manufacturing plant very soon!
- Further, in the cities where these statues are installed, there are several other problems.
Example:- Morbi bridge of Gujarat has collapsed.
Bangalore witnesses severe floods in intense rains.
Telangana farmers face a severe shortage of water for agriculture.
- Apart from this India is facing severe unemployment of 6%, and in 2022 India ranked 107 out of 121 countries on Global Hunger Index, with a 224.3 million undernourished population (nearly 25% of the global share).
- And we have a poor investment in Research and development (0.6% of GDP) and education (3.1% of GDP), which is very poor compared to other developing nations.
Thus, the nation needs to realize the need for essential sustenance over the craze of elitist superiority!
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