We do lack a sense of aesthetics. Take, for instance, the latest decision of Maharashtra Government to get statues of ‘Shivaji’ constructed next to Gateway of India. Or, several of such statues of Mayawati, which came into being, as she came to power. Lets leave aside the logic behind them; for there is hardly any behind the narcissism of power obsessed politicians. But are these guys blind? Haven’t they seen hundreds of such statues of Ambedkar in cities, towns and villages? They were so hopelessly built that no child feels any curiosity to ask his parents about the credentials of that bald, bespectacled man. In fact, in small towns, when they don’t have red light at the crossing, they make sure that Ambedkar statue is there. Its raised hand and pointed finger is there as if to discipline the traffic. Crows and pigeons are the only living creatures, which have got some value out of these statues for they don’t have to think twice before to defecate. Scared of crows humans built it, so that they can defecate on its top and save the earth from their gracious presence.
Now lets talk about Shivaji's statue. Marine Drive and this part of South Bombay is perhaps the only place in India, where you feel foreign. I have put it very bluntly. But have you seen cafes like Leopold and Mondegar, structures like VT and Gateway of India in any other part of this tradition obsessed country. I am from Delhi and no matter how elite a residential area is, religious folks never leave it without a temple, where they can congregate and make life miserable for those outside their gathering. Ironically, they have transformed dustbins into temples at many places. Hygiene can suffer but religion should not. You would come across nothing like this in South Bombay – where people keep their value systems inside their homes and don’t harm the beauty of roads by carrying out religious processions (save one or two instances of Ganpati visarjan). But where pandits and mullahs failed, politicians succeeded. And they will have a statue of Shivaji among the structures and the vibrancy, which have nothing Indian in it. Not that they don’t have the right to. But they should have seen how many commuters even take note of the Shivaji statue at VT station. No one cleans it. It is as earthly as the earth. I mean as dirty as VT station.