November 1 – a day after the Statue of Unity was dedicated to the nation by Hon’ble PM Modi, I was in Vadodara. We had finished our meetings on schedule and since our flights were in the night, we decided to step out to Kevadiya Village ( 1 hr drive from Vadodara) and see the newly launched, tallest statue in the world.
A turn on the road as we traveled towards the site brought the collossus in sight, with it’s bronze back gleaming in the afternoon sun. The road drive was smooth – we admired the sheer development in Gujarat that touched even its hinterlands. The statue itself faced the Sardar Sarovar Dam – the largest dam on Narmada river, and was standing tall on an artificially created island on Narmada. The statue stood tall serene surroundings and the development around it was graceful and of global standards.
Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel was an iconic leader of the nation. His contribution in unifying 553 princely states to create the sovereign democratic republic is absolutely unparalleled – especially, once one realizes the tight time-frame in which he operated to enable this. As I went thru his biography (picked it up at the souvenir shop on site) on the way back, I realized that he had to be the ultimate public policy advocate – their were strong vested interests which wanted to see India splintered and multiple sub-states to evolve. He had to move with dexterity, with the smoothness of Chanakya – and, where required, with an iron hand.
It was his initiative in moving the army that got Hyderabad painlessly into India within 108 hours, it was his understanding of the players that prevented Jodhpur from becoming another Kashmir – and kept it as an integral part of India. Kashmir was prevented from becoming a bigger disaster by his sheer determination and speed-of-action.
It was only on reading the biography that I realized for the first time that the unified nation I live in now is a legacy of this iron man’s work.
Immortalized now as the tallest statue in the world ( Statue of Unity is twice the size of the Statue of Liberty!), the spot is all set to evolve as a popular tourist destination. The river is sparkling and inviting green mountains string around the location. There are laser shows in the evening. The first half is the best time to catch the statue in a selfie with the sun in the right spot. I am sure that with a little focus, the government will have a financial payoff from the investment in this project.
However, the project cannot be measured purely in its economics. I believe that by creating an iconic, world-class monument of national faith, we are setting the foundation for another catalytic change – of a feeling of national pride, of taking big, audacious goals and achieving them successfully.
The Statue-of-Unity is an awe-inspiring tribute to Sardar Patel’s contributions to the nation and future generations!