On 31st October, Statue of Unity, world’s tallest statue, was unveiled by Prime Minister Modi to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. However, the statue got people talking for a reason other than expected.
At the location of the statue, a board has been installed that carries the translations of the phrase ‘Statue of Unity’ in 10 different languages. But as soon as the pictures of the inauguration came out people found out that the board carried the wrong translation of the phrase in Tamil. The error attracted the anger of the Tamil speaking people on Twitter.
— Soundar (@soundarselvam) October 31, 2018
Letters are in tamil, But it has no meaning related to the “statue of Unity”. Please change it. @narendramodi @rashtrapatibhvn #SardarVallabhbhaiPatel #India @mkstalin @RahulGandhi @twttdc @CMOTamilNadu pic.twitter.com/VDWeOpOIl4
— தனிமை (@23twitts) October 31, 2018
After the news went viral, a top official from the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam dismissed the image as fake. “The viral image of the erroneous Tamil translation of the Statue of Unity is a mischievous attempt by someone to tarnish the event that is a grand tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel”, the official had said.
This prompted several websites to run a fact check, declaring the images as fake.
However, in a major embarrassment to the Gujarat government, the photo was also posted from the official account of Gujarat Chief Minister’s Office showing plaque with the wrong Tamil translations. The tweet was subsequently deleted.
A journalist associated with BBC Gujarati, Tejas Vaidya had also photographed the same plaque on 30th October. His photo, and also the photo posted by Gujarat CMO, shows that the Tamil text is actually masked with tape, but as the tape is semi-transparent, the text is still visible. This means that someone had already spotted the mistake before the statue was inaugurated and attempted to cover it.
The mistake was admitted by the Gujarat government later. “We had outsourced event management works to private agencies. When it was brought to our notice, we immediately blacked it out,” a government official said when contacted by The Hindu, adding that they would put up a new plaque with proper translations soon.