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India Just Unveiled The Tallest Statue In The World To A Very Mixed Reaction

The unveiling of the “Statue of Unity” has been met with protests and memes, and it won’t even be the tallest statue for that long.

Posted on October 31, 2018, at 9:58 a.m. ET

On Wednesday, a 600-foot statue of Indian independence hero Vallabhbhai Patel — commonly known as Sardar Patel — was unveiled in his home state of Gujarat.

Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

Patel, who died in 1950, was the first deputy prime minister of India and is considered one of the country’s founding fathers.

Amit Dave / Reuters

The Statue of Unity — made out of bronze despite Patel’s nickname being the “Iron Man of India” — is twice the size of the Statue of Liberty, and takes the spot as tallest statue in the world.

Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

The structure, unveiled 143 years after Patel was born, cost 29.8 billion rupees ($403 million), and has proved controversial with locals in Vadodara, Gujarat.

Thousands of police officers were deployed to the area, and have clashed with local protesters, who feel the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

People are also angry that the huge construction project disrupted local people's lives — 185 families were moved and some have been compensated, although demonstrators have demanded more. Tribal activists with special status who call the area home signed a letter asking Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stay away from the inauguration. Modi was present on Wednesday and called the statue “an answer to all those who question the existence of India.”

On the banks of the Narmada stands the majestic statue of a great man, who devoted his entire life towards nation building. It was an absolute honour to dedicate the #StatueOfUnity to the nation. We are grateful to Sardar Patel for all that he did for India.

And on social media, the statue has been met with a humorous and skeptical response.

Ironic that a statue of Sardar Patel is being inaugurated, but every institution he helped build is being smashed. The systematic destruction of India's institutions is nothing short of treason. #StatueOfUnity

the PMO's photo op with #StatueOfUnity looks suspiciously like a Pokemon trainer battle

Sardar Patel would have been appalled by the crude boastfulness of the ads in his name in today’s newspapers. That his statue is taller than any in China, America, Japan, etc. That is certainly not how the Sardar would have measured national dignity and self respect.

The Statue of Unity also won’t hold on to its title as the world’s tallest for long — another Indian state, Maharashtra, is currently constructing a memorial to warrior king Shivaji, which is estimated to be more than 623 feet tall when finished.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.