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From stadiums to statues, why is India obsessed with the ‘biggest’ and the ‘tallest’?

India is making it large. We're not sure why.

 |  3-minute read |   08-01-2019
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Tallest!

Biggest!

Broadest!

No, this isn’t a Horlicks ad. This is just how India makes headlines these days.

India’s pursuit of the superlative — through a statue that is both the giant and the beanstalk in this narrative — is something that’s inspired many a story. ‘Why do we even need a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel?’ was countered with ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the man who united India,’ ‘What a waste of money’ was countered with ‘Imagine the amount of tourism it will bring.’

It is ironic how the Statue of Unity actually divided the country thus.

t2018103157068_010819032901.jpgTaking a Freudian stand. (Source: IndiaToday.in)

But there’s really nothing more one can say about it because what’s done is done. The only thing protesting ‘extremists’ can do now is break it down, but then, we’re vehemently against the breaking down of any monument that contributes to history — past, present or future.

And just when you thought these statue-tory warnings were enough, it wasn’t anymore.

The ‘tallest’ has to now make way for something else, as India swiftly moves on to constructing the world's ‘biggest’ cricket stadium.

For the record, it is not an entirely new stadium — the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad, also known as Motera Stadium, is just getting a makeover. To break it down to simpler terms, it is getting a Botox — you know, like how Bollywood celebrities get a few weeks of a European holiday and come back looking fresher and younger?

Currently, the world’s largest cricket stadium — the Melbourne Cricket Ground — has a capacity of 1,00,024 seats. Second in the world is Kolkata’s Eden Gardens with a capacity of 66,000. The Motera stadium is just adding ‘shagun ke 10,000’ over Melbourne’s number, amping their capacity up to 1.1 lakhs.

And that is one of the most-Indian (see how I put a superlative here as well?) Indian things one can ever do — shagun!

namo_010819032230.jpgHave I made it large? A question that bothers so many of us. (Source: PTI)

The fact that both the ‘tallest’ and the ‘largest’ are erected in Gujarat, with both named after the Iron Man of India, is probably just a coincidence. Or so you’d think until you realise that it all started with the ‘broadest.’ There is but one man, who can boast of a 56-inch chest, and there is but one time he can do that, only to realise that he is possibly going to be trolled for the rest of his life for the comment. But that’s outside the realm of this story. The only part we will handpick from this is the point that India is home to the ‘broadest’ chest, too!

So, the question a layperson like me battles with every morning going through newspaper headlines is: Why is India obsessed with the ‘tallest,’ ‘biggest’ and the ‘broadest?’ Could it, just perhaps, be Freudian?

A classic Freudian slip, as they say, is when you say one thing and mean your mother. So, could it be that the sudden urge to prove that ours is taller, bigger and broader than any other in the world, a subconscious attempt to make up for what we lack in size in other departments?

After all, size does matter. And we learned the ‘bada hai toh behtar hai’ factor way back in 2008 when Shah Rukh Khan spread his arms and sold us a Videocon television set.

So here we are, ‘making it large,’ so to speak, as the world watches us ‘grow’ in awe.

One erection at a time.

Also read: 5 key takeaways from the 106th Indian Science Congress, and why they should be buried in the Time Capsule for 100 years!

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