What crack-brained idiot dreamed up this one?

Can I say in advance that recent political developments in India have generally left me appalled? From the BJP’s victory in Karnataka (oh, for shame! Why couldn’t we have had Krishna again?) to the central government’s crackdown on Tibetan protesters and the lack of pressure on Burma following the cyclone, my boundless sense of optimism and faith in the human spirit has been somewhat dented. I still cling to a naive belief that somewhere, somehow, democracy will bring something valuable to the table; throw up a worthwhile politician or two who can take a stance on things. Come to think of it, we already have someone like that in Manmohan Singh. Unfortunately, he’s so hobbled by having to pander to the Left’s ill-conceived populism, combined with their apparent inability to see facts or engage in reasoned debate that his hands are tied. I don’t envy him his job, I can tell you.

I still retain something of that belief in the sense of democracy, even when I read the endless articles about the Yadavs and Mayawati dedicating statues to herself, or the MNS frothing at the mouth about north Indians.

However, the magnificent stupidity of this idea has me baffled, and makes me question (for a moment) the faith I had. Plans for a statue of Shivaji off the coast of Mumbai. $25 million on a ruddy statue? Honestly, that’s the most idiotic, hare-brained, ludicrous thing I’ve heard in a lifetime of hearing about idiotic patriotic projects. Rs. 1 billion, ten crores. That’s a lot of money that could go towards so many, so very many other worthwhile things.

Please. The problem with democracy, I fear, is that people get the leaders they elect, who then ensure re-election by schemes like this. The question that always confuses me is this: Why does this strategy work? Why do people apparently want a memorial like this before they want roads, education or health care? I am horrified that anyone should think this necessary, and that it should have support. It’s completely irrational, and there’s apparently nothing that can be done about it.