Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A statute of liberty for Bombay?

BBC: India plans huge "Liberty" Statue.

NDTV.

The thing is, it's the Congress run state government that's proposing it. The statue will be of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the 17th century Maratha warlord, now quasi-deified, who made life difficult for the Mughals.

Shivaji is everywhere in Bombay. The grand old Victoria Terminus (VT) was renamed in his honor. As were the airports. Statues of him crop up everywhere. And even the perception of dishonor to his bust can spark riots.

To non-Maharashtrians, the cult of Shivaji seems mainly to be feed nativist sentiments, like the kind that recently cropped up, when thousands of north Indian unskilled workers fled the state.

It's the last thing Bombay needs right now. It has a lot of things it needs to work on first -- housing, sanitation, the terrible traffic, better mass transit, a reliable supply of electricity -- to realize the dream of being "another Shanghai."

This? It's just a vote-garner.

What's sad is that it's the Congress that is pandering to the nativist element, perhaps trying to encroach on the Shiv Sena's [the alleged representatives of all Maharashtrians] base.

But who knows: Indian leaders are such a craven bunch. This might actually go ahead!

And woe betide anyone who dares questions the wisdom of this move, because it will be interpreted as an insult to Shivaji.

[H/t to the Acton Blog, where they make an important point: the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of welcome to the outsider. Indian politicians of whatever party are a crass lot, often supported by the underworld, and are the chief obstacles to greater liberty. And freedom of speech, in India, despite its venerable tradition of a free press, tends to be a joke.]

मेरी राय में जहन्नुम में जा मरें सब साले!

2 comments:

Mattheus Mei said...

oh the irony of it all!!!! Hmm I guess pandering to the 'religious right' is transnational as well as transcultural.

Maybe the Repubs in our country should consider building a statue to Jesus in the Port of Galveston to (1) show how ingratiated the current party in power is to the protestant religious conservatives,(2) intimate our disdain for illegal aliens, (3) seek supernatural protection for the gulf coast against hurricanes AND homosexuals. Perhaps it'll garner more votes come November?

Ok, Satire aside, it is a funny sotry!

Gashwin said...

Hmm. Yes, all kinds of divisions can be stoked by unscrupulous politicians in order to garner votes. That's about the only parallel that I'd draw ... the issues here are not really religious, but regional/ethnic/linguistic.

However, the idea of building a gigantic statue of Jesus in the Gulf of Mexico ... now there's something to rally the troops around! Better still, get it done at public expense, like the Govt. of Maharashtra is proposing in this story!

:)