In the famous allegorical fiction, The Happy Prince, Oscar Wilde depicted how the costly statue of the prince began crying with sadness after seeing the plight of poor people all around.
Had Sardar Patel got life in the Statue of Unity, the same thing would have happened on seeing 190.7 million of hungry children and adults all over India. He had once categorically said, “My only desire is that India should be a good producer and no one should be hungry, shedding tears for food in the country.”
The Statue of Unity cost India almost 3000 crore rupees when India ranks 103rd among 119 countries in the 2018 Global Hunger Index with “serious level of hunger”. Moreover, India has been identified along with Djibouti and South Sudan as the countries where child wasting are most prevalent.
In the ‘State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2017’ report, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN has estimated that nearly 40 per cent of the food produced in India is wasted or lost. And this cost India one lakh crore rupees every year. Obsolete technology used in infrastructure and transporting food items is the culprit for food wastage in India.
We could easily solve the problems of child wasting, child stunting and hunger if we adopt a better technology for infrastructure and transporting food items and distribute the excess food among the poor in a proper way.
Sardar Patel must have been wondering from the height of 182 metre, how we have become so small that we fight shy of spending money on stopping food wastage. He will certainly feel sad on seeing that we shamelessly spend crores of rupees on his statue while totally ignoring his only desire to make India a country where “no one should be hungry, shedding tears for food”.
It will be highly unfortunate if we keep on constructing more such costly statues to make those great persons groan under the weight of abysmal inequality, hunger, malnutrition, unemployment, child labour and lack of human development.
Sujit De, Kolkata