This headline caught my eye like many other fellow Indians in Auckland. I was not sure what to express- be happy about having an Indian icon near my home or being sad about obnoxious flow of funds. After all $20mn NZD is not a small sum!!
The question that instantly striked my inquisitive mind was – Why exactly do we need a replica? Why exactly do we need to spend $20mn NZD on a replica? The Mahatma Gandhi Centre itself where this replica is going to be created is a hub of all Indian activities – festive celebrations, weddings, religious ceremonies and the amazingly crowded garba nights! It already is an Auckland attraction standing testimonial to Indian culture and community!
The funding committee is suggesting that this will promote the city as a tourist attraction! I wonder how? I mean if someone would like to see Taj Mahal why wouldn’t they prefer going to India (Kiwis are already crazy about India and the Taj and the bollywood//AR Rahman//butter chicken//saag aaloo//lamb saagwala and the Rajasthan stories!!) and see the original version (that’s another issue that India itself has failed to promote itself as a tourist destination courtesy the niceties served to the foreigners via rape, robbery, overcharging and cheating).
Also note that the funding committee is largely supported by the omnipresent Gujarati community. The community behind the sprawling and elderly-friendly Akshardham complex in Delhi – I don’t even wanna start on this right now!! I am too afraid of my mom who thinks its just too beautiful! Yeah right mom. I have promised you earlier not to talk against it. The community has done amazing work for charitable hospitals, schools and old age home and kudoz to them for that but I sincerely don’t understand why it is spending $20mn over a replica now?
Auckland itself is a beautiful city. The beautiful buildings and the lovely views and the lushious greenery – does it really need an ostentious Indian Taj Mahal replica to be promoted as a tourist attraction? The City of Sails has so many other points of attraction – why do we need an Indianized epitome complete with marble mausoleum, a pool and gold-plated ornaments?? Its pathetic when we are not even able to take good care of the original Taj. I still loathe my visit to city of Agra. Its ridiculously dirty! I can still smell it and this is making me highly nauseous right now wait lemme smell my cuppa coffee. Though I forgot all this while I stood and saw the majestic Taj – ‘the original TAJ’.
Its actually shameful and embarassing at the time when my colleagues at work are aksing me about the status or possibility of Commonwealth Games finally happening. Its highly insulting when the UN reports that the world hunger is on the rise for a decade specially in Asia. Its almost insane to know at this very time the Samoans are battling the aftermath of Tsunami and we are talking about creating a replica.
We Indians be it here or back home love to splurge – its just in our DNA that materialism is good. We love to build statues of politicians in Noida and Shivaji in middle of sea! We love statues and replicas and all things nice. We just don’t care about the harsh realities. The Noida entrance beautification project is a shame! The big statue of Buddha and overarching iron ornated curves which were not painted two years back as people objected to the flow of funds and politicians lost the elections.
Raj here has given his inputs too – Thanks Raj //Don’t like the idea……so many issues…Its not good for social integration with the local population and as usual indians will form groups within the community and fight within themselves for control of the place. It will reduce the charm of the actual taj mahal for kiwis and tourist numbers may drop (Also because The replica will be a cheap imitation)//
This has driven me insane since the time I have read this…sheer wastage that’s all I can say and really cheap!
I have been told instead of criticizing it I should suggest solutions – I am not sure what solutions can I present apart from utilizing the $20mn in a productive manner! Also this post is not India bashing post. This is just about how obnoxious one can get in name of tourism. I hereby speak as a tourist and a common person not Indian not NRI or not any country’s citizen! I am writing as a tortured student who travelled via the Noida entrance route daily getting late for tuitions courtesy the riots or the protests over the beautification. I am writing as a tourist who was afraid of drinking water in Agra. I am not here for solutions – if we need one I might as well start writing another post which I highly don’t intend to do so. After all what power do I have to dare make any suggestions when the master plan for the replica is already on its way! I can just take out my frustration over someone’s obnoxiousness.
You have your rights of opinion – bouquets and brickbats are welcomes – to each his/her own. And this post and this blog is my own!
(Read NZ Herald’s NZ Leading Daily cover story here)