Thursday, October 15, 2015

India's undernourished children stand tall ... at 590 feet!

I am so happy that India has straightened out its priorities.  Finally!

If only they had done this a long time ago; by now, India could have become way more than a global superpower.

What is the occasion, you ask?  It is a statue:
When the planned 590-foot-high tribute is done, it will stand roughly twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty. 
Yes, a 590-foot statue is precisely what is needed to deliver India from problems like:
India is the epicenter of global malnutrition: 39 percent of Indian children are stunted from poor nutrition, according to government figures (other estimates are higher). Stunting is worse in India than in Burkina Faso or Haiti, worse than in Bangladesh or North Korea.
Here in Uttar Pradesh, a vast state of 200 million people in India’s north, the malnutrition is even more horrifying. By the government’s own reckoning, a slight majority of children under age 5 in this state are stunted — worse than in any country in Africa save Burundi, according to figures in the 2015 Global Nutrition Report.
Of course, I am being sarcastic when I write that the 590-foot statue will take care of India's ills.  It is a colossal atrocity!

Why build such a statue?
“Our question was: What kind of monument can generate the most public welfare?” said K. Srinivas, the state’s top civil servant. “We started looking at the statue’s potential in a scientific and methodical manner.”
The monument, called the Statue of Unity, would be a powerful symbol for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was elected last year.
You read that correctly: "the most public welfare."

You really want to know how much money will be spent on it?  Seriously?
The BJP-led government of Gujarat has budgeted $500 million for the project, including the statue and related development. As prime minister, Mr. Modi, who previously served as chief minister of Gujarat, set aside $30 million in federal funds to contribute.
What is $500 million, right?  Spare change.  Except that India has basic problems that continue to go unaddressed. You know, like open defecation.

Where did this massive idea come from anyway?
When trusted advisers, brainstorming how best to honor Vallabhbhai Patel, suggested a statue, Mr. Modi said its head should stand out against the surrounding hills and match the size of a close-by dam, one of India’s largest. Ticking both boxes took its height within the 200-meter range.
“This is the scale that we need, so be it,” said Mr. Modi, according to K. Srinavas, Gujarat’s top bureaucrat, who participated in the series of meetings about the statue in early 2010.
Maybe I should simply give up on my old country and avoid the heartaches altogether.  Oh well, easier said than done!

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