Recently I came across a news item stating that due to rising costs the height of the Ravana at Ramlila Ground in New Delhi this year is being reduced from 60-65 feet to around 40-45 feet. In some places they no longer put up Kumbhakarna's figure  to save upon costs. 

My thoughts went back to two statues in my city which had to be replaced and increased in height from the original when installed. This was a reverse phenomenon than the Ravana figure whose height had to be reduced. Both the statues were installed by the city municipality at public expense. That is where the problem arose.

The first statue was of Maharana Pratap the great warrior of Mewar and a much loved historical figure. It was announced with much fanfare that at a very important and busy crossing, a statue of the king in a standing position, holding his spear and shield would be installed. 

Accordingly after a few months at a function the statue was unveiled admist  lot of clapping and back slapping. But soon there was disappointment as the statue did not bring out the majesty of the Maharana. his statue looke a bit comical. The spear in his right hand was taller than him. The shield in his left hand covered a portion of his face too. The helmet on the head appeared a bit too big for the statues face. 

It soon became a talk of the town and local papers also commented upon it. At the busy crossing many a driver would drive slow to have a longer look at it. Speculation was rife as to what happened. The statue simply did not do justice to the impressive figure of the Maharana and photographs of statues in some other cities were made available by local papers. The statue suffered terribly in comparison. 

In the college I passed out from in Rajasthan, there was a museum, which had a room in which a life size statue of the Maharana was installed in full battle gear along with his spear, shield, helmet with chains protecting his face, These were supposed to be original and belonged to Maharana. It was a very impressive statue which was very uplifting to look at.

Therefore the pygmy statue of the Maharana on a pedestal of around 15 feet high, in fact made a mockery of the great historical figure. Soon there was a public uproar and protests followed. As usual the municipality took its own sweet time to respond.

Almost around the same time another statue was installed at another part of the city by the side of a not very busy road. The statue was of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose the legendary freedom fighter. The statue depicted Netaji in his famous pose in a marching position. However it also soon met the reaction  similar to the above statue. The height if the statue was  hardly three to four  feet and it made Netaji look like a dwarf. I happened to pass by that road at least twice a day and developed a silent sympathy for Netaji being depicted in such a pygmy statue.

Both these dwarf statues created a sense of resentment in the city population. In fact some miscreants stole the spear from the statue of Maharana making it look still more comical. After a long period the city fathers grandly announced that both the statues will be replaced by new statues befitting their stature. It helped sooth the resentment among the citizens.

After a few months both the statues were replace with new statues. Proper care was taken to see that they were of appropriate height and looked as near to the real heroes. The citizens were satisfied and both the statues are today standing majestically at their original places.

There were lot of speculations as to why the original statues were not of proper height. After discounting the many theories, it was agreed by almost all that corruption was responsible for the shortening of the heights. It may look comical but it sounds logical. Especially because no other reason has  been provided till date.

As happens most of the time, after awarding contracts the contractors are expected to return a certain amount to the contract value to the department officials in whose jurisdiction the contract is awarded. Generally the contract value is inflated to take this payment into account. Everyone gets their share and the quality of work also may not suffer for want of funds.

But what happens when a provision has not been kept for it and the contract gets awarded. No one wants to forgo their share.The beneficiary of the contract has to accommodate somehow. Usually he cuts corners in the job which anyway the same officials will be approving. Having got their cut they willingly approve the below performance job. everyone is happy.

So why did both the statues lose their heights so liberally?

Now in case of  a statute how does its maker accommodate the demands of the order givers? He can do so only by cutting either the height or the girth of the full size statue. As the demand grows the more reduction he has to do in these vital statistics of a figure. That is what made both Maharana Pratap and Netaji's statues lose at first inches and then feet to finally emerge as pygmy statues. The officials had no option but to approve them and get them installed. When have they bothered about public resentment.

Whether the above is true or not can not be ascertained otherwise how could the commissioned   life size statues result into almost half the size. How can such mistake occur not once but twice. Almost everyone is convinced that this was the reason why the original statues became laughably short in height. 

Height of corruption!!


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Comments (1)

  1. SurajParkash Tuteja

Corruption in India has crossed all heights.

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