“What it proves is that we should not be giving money to India. It is up to them how they spend their money but if they can afford this statue, then it is clearly a country we should not need to be giving aid to,” Tory MP Peter Bone told a British publication.
The NDA government at the Centre is in the eye of a storm for building the world’s tallest statue – a 182-metre tall statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, which was inaugurated on October 31.
The recent criticism came from Britain that provided £1.17billion (Rs 11,000 crore approximately) in foreign aid to India, reports Daily Mail.
The UK has been donating money to India since 2012 when the work for the Statue of Unity had begun. The first aid of about £268 million (Rs 2,540 crore approximately) came in 2013. Then, in 2014 and 2015, the UK gave India £278 million (Rs 2,635 crore approximately) and £185 million (Rs 1,752 crore) respectively.
The paper quoted Tory MP Peter Bone who said that taking “£1.1billion in aid from us and then at the same time spend £330million on a statue is a total nonsense and it is the sort of thing that drives people mad.”
“What it proves is that we should not be giving money to India. It is up to them how they spend their money but if they can afford this statue, then it is clearly a country we should not need to be giving aid to,” said Bone.
According to official figures, as much as £1.17 billion of UK taxpayers’ money was given as foreign aid to India.
According to the paper, the aid from the UK was used for projects that India could have afforded had it not spent an exorbitant amount in building a structure twice the size of the Statue of Liberty.
The UK has been funding Indian projects to boost the country’s economy. It has given money for improving women’s rights, invested in solar panels and low-carbon transport. In 2014, £14,000 (Rs 13.27 lakh) was used to increase ‘religious tolerance among young people’.
Other than this, UK also funded schemes that included testing whether yoga helps people who have had heart attacks for which £86,616 (Rs 82.13 lakh) was spent. The UK had also sent Indian women scientists to visit Cambridge University which included an investment of £100,000 (Rs 94.85 lakh). The UK has also provided aid to India to tackle climate change.
While the UK’s Department for International Development said it had ended ‘traditional aid’ to India in 2015, the country continues to fund projects in India. Last year, the UK gave India £92.6million.
A similar debate had taken place in 2012 when the unease over aid to India was increasing among the Britons. At that time, the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had stated in the Rajya Sabha that India did not want British aid. "We do not require the aid. It is a peanut in our total development exercises (expenditure)," Mukherjee had said.
On Twitter, opinions have been divided. While some said that India could have used the money to end poverty, others commented that it is up to India how the financial aid is used.Here are some of the reactions-
Someone needs to tell the Brits about the festive season's many cash-back offers.https://t.co/TiVtTQ84Mz
— Aman Sethi (@Amannama) November 3, 2018
1. India got 1 BILLION POUNDS in aid over last 5 years
2. £14,000 of aid money was spent in Gujarat in '14, to ‘increase religious tolerance among young people’
Finally we have fooled the British & avenged colonialism https://t.co/BBaAxGMHqC
— Akash Banerjee (@akashbanerjee) November 3, 2018
What Britain needs to give India is not aid but reparations for colonial rule. What we do with it is our problem. https://t.co/F9pRantxxS
— Shivam Vij (@DilliDurAst) November 3, 2018
The statue was built by Larsen & Toubro Ltd at a cost of Rs 2,989 crore. It was built with 1.80 lakh cubic metres of concrete, 18,500 tonnes of reinforced steel, 6,500 tonnes of structured steel, 1,700 tonnes of bronze and 1,850 tonnes of bronze cladding.
It has been claimed that Patel’s memorial was the quickest such statue to be completed. Construction of the structure began on December 19, 2015. China’s Spring Temple Buddha statue had taken 11 years to complete.