India Is Now Home to the World's Largest Statue

Prime Minister,s Office, Press Information Bureau, Wikimedia Commons // OGDL-India [PDF]
Prime Minister,s Office, Press Information Bureau, Wikimedia Commons // OGDL-India [PDF]

At nearly 600-feet-tall, the world's largest statue was just recently completed. Depicting India's first interior minister and its most beloved deputy prime minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the statue was unveiled in late October 2018 and is nearly five times taller than Brazil's famed Christ the Redeemer, twice as high as the Statue of Liberty, and 180 feet taller than the previous record holder, China's Spring Temple Buddha.

The statue's subject, Vallabhbhai Patel, holds a special place in the country's history. Called the "Iron Man of India," Patel was one of country's modern founding fathers and was instrumental in the fight for India's independence, having worked directly with Gandhi to organize non-violent campaigns of civil disobedience. He was also a vital broker of peace, using his political acumen to convince more than 500 princely states to unite following the 1947 partition of India. For that reason, the memorial is called "The Statue of Unity."

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Statue Of Unity
Government of India, Abhinay6597, Wikimedia Commons // OGDL-India [PDF]

Not everybody is a fan of the new landmark. The sculpture is located in a relatively remote part of Patel's home state of Gujarat and cost $430 million to build. Local farmers, who claim to have lost land because of the project, have protested construction and argue that the funds could have been put to better use. (Half of the money was provided by the Gujarat state government.) "Instead of spending money on a giant statue, the government should have used it for farmers in the district," farmer Vijendra Tadvi complained to the BBC.

The Statue of Unity, however, may not hold the title of the world's largest statue for long—although, if it does lose its title, the distinction will likely remain in India. Over in Mumbai, the Shiv Smarak statue is being constructed to honor the 17th-century Hindu warrior and Maratha kingdom founder, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. By its estimated completion in 2021, the memorial will tower at 695 feet.

Australian Accounting Firm Offers Employees 12 Weeks of ‘Life Leave’ to Strike the Perfect Work-Life Balance

iStock.com/karenfoleyphotography
iStock.com/karenfoleyphotography

What would you do if you could take a three-month vacation each year? Would you book a flight to Hawaii, catch up on your favorite Netflix shows, or simply spend some quality time with your partner, kids, or dogs? The employees at one Australian accounting firm undoubtedly have a few ideas about how to spend the six to 12 weeks of “life leave” they will soon be granted.

As Travel + Leisure reports, Ernst & Young Oceania decided to introduce more flexible work hours in an attempt to attract and retain top talent. “We’re innovating so we don’t lose these people while they pursue passions outside of work,” company official Kate Hillman told The Independent. Hillman went on to cite volunteer experiences, training programs, and even a trekking trip to Nepal as different ways that employees might take advantage of the new policy, which goes into effect April 1.

Employees can either use their leave all at once or split it into two smaller vacations. The only catch is that the leave is self-funded—so it’s essentially an unpaid vacation. Still, if someone has the burning desire to backpack through Europe for a couple of months, or work on a project, it’s a safer option than quitting their job only to return unemployed and broke.

In addition to this policy, employees can choose to reduce their hours to a part-time schedule for up to three months each year. Parents may also choose to take advantage of a term-time arrangement, which lets them work regular hours when school is in session, then take time off during school holidays.

According to the firm’s research, flexibility at work boosts employee engagement by 11 percent. There are plenty of other reasons to take a vacation, too—not the least of which is evidence that time off may help you lead a longer, healthier, and happier life. Plus, you’ll come back refreshed and motivated, so your boss will be happy, too.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

The World's 10 Most Expensive Cities

An apartment complex in Hong Kong
An apartment complex in Hong Kong
iStock.com/Nikada

If you think San Francisco is pricey, you should see some of the other metropolises that appear in a new ranking of the 10 most expensive cities in the world. As The Real Deal reports, Singapore, Paris, and Hong Kong have been jointly named as the three cities with the highest cost of living in a new analysis by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

It was the first time in the history of the Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living report that three cities have tied for first place. Billing itself as a global business intelligence group, the EIU takes the prices of more than 400 items into consideration for its annual list, including food, clothing, household supplies, private school fees, and recreation.

Singapore's appearance on the list is no surprise, considering that it has been crowned the world’s most expensive city for the past five years in a row, and Paris has consistently made the top 10 since 2003. Hong Kong, meanwhile, rose three places in the newest ranking, while Osaka, Japan rose six places.

New York City and Los Angeles also made the top 10 list this year, tying with other cities for fourth and fifth place, respectively. This is partly due to exchange rates.

“A stronger U.S. dollar last year has meant that cities in the U.S. generally became more expensive globally, especially relative to last year’s ranking,” the report notes. “New York has moved up six places in the ranking this year, while Los Angeles has moved up four spots.”

Check out the 10 most expensive cities below, and visit the EIU’s website to download a full copy of the report.

  1. Singapore; Hong Kong; and Paris, france (tied)

  1. Zurich, Switzerland

  1. Geneva, Switzerland; and Osaka, Japan (tied)

  1. Seoul, South Korea; Copenhagen, Denmark; and New York City (tied)

  1. Tel Aviv, Israel and Los Angeles (tied)

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