Here is how the Statue of Unity does not compromise other development activities

Great leader set big audacious goals and then achieve them. Besides building the world’s tallest statue, India is also looking at achieving 100% Open Defecation Free status by 2019, housing for all by 2022 etc. Shortly, India could also be home to the world’s tallest residential tower in Mumbai.

Prime Minister Modi inaugurated “Statue of Unity” on 31 October 2018 as the world’s tallest statue to honour the architect of independent India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

A large part of the country viewed this engineering marvel with pride but it was also followed by criticism from some pockets about using the money for other development activities. In that perspective, it is important to understand that Rs. 3000 crores (including maintenance over the next 15 years) is not a big deal for a country like India. This investment in a revenue-generating project is next to nothing when viewed in the perspective of the following other numbers –

  • Today, the Indian government collects almost 20 lakh crores every year in tax revenue (split almost equally across direct and indirect taxes)
  • Over the next few decades, this number will increase manifold. In the last 30 years, tax revenue has increased 50 times
  • In 1998-99, the government collected 1 lakh crore in taxes in a year. Just 20 years on, today this is one month’s GST collection
  • Govt also makes about 10,000 crores in non-tax revenue every year
  • Indian government’s annual revenue of Rs. 20 lakh crore (USD 275 billion) is more than the nominal GDP of 150 countries

Yes, India needs to continue investing in Education, Infrastructure, Healthcare, Science & Technology to improve HDI. The article published in IndiaSpend and republished in TheWire quibbles how this money

could have instead funded two new Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campuses, five Indian Institute of Management (IIM) campuses and six Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) missions to Mars…

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It must be noted that all that is already happening at a much larger scale and a piddly 3000 crore would hardly dent that effort

  • In the last four years, the Modi Government has also paved the way for
  • 8000 new CBSE schools
  • 5 new IITs
  • 6 new IIMs with permanent campus by 2021 (cost 3,775 crores) and
  • 20 new AIIMs (cost 15,000 crore)

 

  • Roads and Highways are being built at a record pace
  • 73% more highways were built in four years of Modi government than in UPA’s last four years
  • The investment was 60,000 crores in 2017 and 1 lakh crores in 2018

 

  • Metro train projects have been launched in 15 new cities. Spent was:
  • 9,300 crores in 2015-16
  • 15,300 crores in 2016-17
  • 7,500 crores in 2018-19 (up to September 30, 2018)

 

  • Indian Railways is undergoing rapid transformation and modernization
  • Made in India, semi high-speed trains with world class facilities are gradually replacing old Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains
  • High Speed Rail (Bullet Train) is being launched for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, the total cost is 1.1 lakh crores (spread over 50 years)
  • More semi-high speed and high speed (bullet train) routes are to be added shortly in future

 

  • 1.25 crore (12.5 million) homes have been constructed for poor under PMAY scheme
  • The allocation was 23,000 crore in 2017
  • Government is on target to achieve “housing for all” by 2022 (total expected spend is 2 lakh crore)

 

  • 8.8 crore (88 million) toilets have been constructed under Swachh Bharat initiative
  • Sanitation coverage has increased from 38% to 95% within 4 years
  • 5 lakh villages, 530 districts and 25 states / UTs have been declared Open Defecation Free
  • Government is on target to make India 100% Open Defecation Free by October 2019
  • The budget has been in the range of 20,000 crores every year

 

  • Ayushman Bharat has been launched to provide free healthcare for 10 crores (100 million) families –
  • 1 lakh people have already benefited within 4 weeks of launch
  • The central government budget is 12,000 crores (first year)

 

  • Atal Tinkering Labs have been started in 5400 schools
  • School children are provided access to cutting-edge modern technologies like 3D Printing, Robotics, IoT and microprocessors with an objective to cultivate scientific innovation

 

  • ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) is working on –
  • Moon landing mission (Chandrayan-2) by early 2019
  • Mission to study Sun (Project Aditya) by 2020
  • The manned mission to space by 2022– total cost is 10,000 crores

India can easily do all these things to improve education, infrastructure, healthcare, science & technology and also build the world’s tallest statue.

Millions of Indians are already rising out of poverty at a rapid pace. With the ongoing development activities, 44 Indians are pulled out of poverty every minute. Recently, India lost the dubious tag of the country with the largest number of people in poverty. By end of this year, India is set to drop further in this ranking.

Great leader set big audacious goals and then achieve them. Besides building the world’s tallest statue, India is also looking at achieving 100% Open Defecation Free status by 2019, housing for all by 2022 etc. Shortly, India could also be home to the world’s tallest residential tower in Mumbai.


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