Ozymandias- King of Kings…

I have been reading with interest the ongoing discussions about the statues installed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati- of herself, of mentor Kanshi Ram and of elephants- and also about the several memorials. These remind me of Shelley’s thought-provoking sonnet, Ozymandias…..

‘I met a traveler from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.’

Statues are in the news currently. U.P. Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati is in a tight spot because of her hobby of installing her own statues.

A PIL (Public Interest Litigation) has been filed, and the U.P. State Government has has been issued a notice by the Supreme Court. Not a person to be intimidated, Mayawati has 400 constables on duty to protect the statues.

‘Interestingly , the first time Mayawati’s statue was installed alongwith that of Kanshi Ram at yet another memorial called ‘Prerna Sthal,’ she got a platform made to raise her’s to the height of her mentor.’

‘But when the turn came for the second statue, she was livid over the sculptor for failing to make her statue of the same height as Kanshi Ram’s.’

It is estimated ‘that each statue of Kanshi Ram and Mayawati costs a sum of Rs 6.65 crores. Each elephant statue costs more than Rs 70 lakh’.

In his famous poem, ‘Ozymandias’, Shelley has described the destroyed state of the statue of the great Ramesses, Pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt.

The central theme of “Ozymandias” ‘is the inevitable decline of all men, and of the empires they build, however mighty in their own time.’

The statue lies in the midst of ‘lone and level sands’. It is said that this signifies the barrenness which results from misuse of might, by those drunk on their own power.

It is to be hoped that there will not be similar consequences of the ‘statue’ drama currently being played out here in India.

(Ramesses photo courtesy- Wikipedia Commons)



  1. Goerge Santayana had somethng to say on this. "Those who cannot learn from History are doomed to repeat it". We are so good at "repeating it".

    These same words are mentioned at the entrance to the Nazi conentration camp at Dachau near Munich. And those that follow the old Nazi power philospophy continue to repeat the errors , like at Abu Gharib.

    I wonder if Ms. M has ever heard of Ozy. If she did she would probably call hm Manuwadi and buld one more statue to herself…


  2. I cant imagine how some people have the gall to do such things and expect the world to completely be oblivious to this or be at awe !

    All the 1000 crores can go down the drain if a new government takes over ( and as already promised by the likes of a Mulayam) and knocks down all the the elephants !

    What a mess. What an opportunity to miss. And where have we ot to..! Huh. All this on immobile large concrete. Concrete. Which in any case is 'all mixed up and solidified' !


  3. Why single out Mayawati. Each one of them is taking advantage of the situation and or position.She is installing her statues as sheis the first generation.

    After her,those who inherit her VIRASAT will rename the streets-gutters-buildings-airports and what have you.Are'nt the others not renaming whatever they can.

    Even the Britishers were not so ruthless as some of those in the govt are.It is fair to blame and crticise…..but let us do this for all,why do this to Madam M only.

    As for the courts are concerned,if we want them to pass strictures against others also,we have to go to the court.Who has the guts???????!!!!!!!


  4. Manju, politicians dont read poetry- they only know very well the art of taking credit of all development and giving a false impression that all the good going on in their state is because of them and their followers shower praise! Nice poem posted by you for our sake to bring out the goings on in reality, though!


  5. Welcome back!!((hugs))thats a beautiful poem that says it all…

    LOL@Ugich's comment about manuvadis :Dand true too ..

    I dont think we will ever learn..delusions of grandeur lurk in the mind of every Indian..

    PS:-love this header :))


  6. If only she had the good sense to spend that money on those very Dalits , who cause she supposedly espouses .

    But why am I even saying this ? The Nobel Laureates of this world should take a break from their R&D , and do some research on the Workings of the "Brain" of the Indian Politician .

    It will be a very challenging task , the 1.15 Billion will benefit from it .


  7. Manju, there is no one who does not know that whatever they build today will meet the fate that all the ancient kings and emperors and their magnificent structures have. The ruins are there for all to see. That fate is as certain as death is. But that has not stopped people from building, say, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty etc or carve the heads of their Presidents into cliffs.

    As Chowla says, Mayawati is not doing anything that others before her have not done. The only difference is that no dalit before her has ever been in a position to do it.

    Let us dismantle all memorials made in the name of all other politicians. If that is agreed upon by all, I will be the first to ask for dalit memorials to be levelled. Not otherwise.


  8. Ugich Konitari– No, we do not seem to be able to learn from history. Or maybe everyone has to learn for themselves through their own experiences?

    Kavi– I do not think that Mayawati expects us to be in awe. She probably does not even care what anyone thinks about her statues and memorials!

    BK Chowla– Please do not think that I am singling out Mayawati's activities because she is a Dalit.

    You are correct. Others are naming institutions, roads and fly-overs right and left! But I do not think anyone else has spent public money on monuments on such a grand scale as Mayawati is currently doing.


  9. I don't see my comment, here, Manju.I am just worried about the debri, when the next government comes into power. They will definitely demolish them. And the Dalits will oppose and burn buses and trains, thinking that Mayawati has done something good for them by placing her statues everywhere.

    One or two statues can be excused, but One thousand…huh..sickening to think about.

    The poem is really very good and very apt.


  10. Gopinathji, Indyeah– This is one of my favourite poems. I immediately thought of it after reading the various blog posts and news reports about these statues yesterday.

    Kislay– I am certainly against spending so much public money in such an ostentatious manner. However I don't think that we can say that all of the money should have been spent on necessities for Dalits.
    Monuments, etc. are necessary, just not on this large scale.


  11. Vinodji– I have read your views on this subject and I'm afraid that we shall have to agree to disagree about this.:)
    I have to repeat, though, that I do not think that most people are are objecting because Mayawati is a Dalit.
    Personally, I would object to such large-scale squandering of public funds whether the Chief Minister in question were a Dalit or of any other caste.

    Sandhya– Did you write a comment earlier? It seems to have disappeared!
    Yes, it is the large number (of statues) that is sickening.


  12. You have said it so beautifully here – '

    It is said that this signifies the barrenness which results from misuse of might, by those drunk on their own power.
    It is to be hoped that there will not be similar consequences of the 'statue' drama currently being played out here in India.'

    It just sums up everything I have to say on this!


  13. Manju,I do not agree with you.Others have been in power long enough to learn the tricks of getting away legally.Is an airportmade with public funds.
    Would you not like to see a monument in Mumbai nmed after Mr Karkae?


  14. Smitha – Yes, everyone in power does this sort of thing but Mayawati's projects are beyond anything done so far.

    Sunder- Nothing is forever! 🙂

    BK Chowla– Yes, an airport is constructed with public funds- but it not constructed expressly to be a tribute to a political leader. It is constructed because there is need for it. Whom it is named for may become a political controversy, but that is another issue.
    Naming roads, airports or expressways (which need to be built anyway)after political leaders is different from spending crores on statues of political leaders.
    Also building monuments for leaders who are no more is, in my opinion, different from building some for yourself ( while still living).
    BTW, why do you think I would like a monument in Mumbai named after Mr.Karkare? 🙂


  15. Mayawati perhaps thinks that it must take ages for another Dalit woman to be at a position that she is at so let the future generation have an inspiration from her statues.


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