Economist Meghnad Desai, who chairs the trust gathering funds for a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square, said on Wednesday that small and large donations were pouring in from across the globe.
Presenting an update on the statue announced by Chancellor George Osborne during his visit to India in July, Desai, who chairs the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust, told newspersons that work on completing the sculpture, and on the fundraising was ‘going full steam ahead’.
Desai said during the briefing at the House of Lords: "I had a call yesterday from someone in India and he promised me a six-figure sum in donation. He is a good friend and I am looking forward to that."
He added: "The word is spreading around. We are getting very good support from donors and we have lots of pledges and money is also coming in through our website. I have also written to my colleagues in the House of Lords and they are doing their bit to help too. We are pretty sure we will achieve what we have set out to achieve."
He did not disclose the full amount raised so far, but indicated that ‘plenty of pledges’ were coming in from big donors. Small donations were also continuing to flow into the trust’s website from all over the world, he added.
There are efforts to ensure that the statue unveiling is done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, though no confirmation has been delivered so far.
From all indications the statue will be ready for unveiling and the required funds raised by January end. However, he said the trust could not give an assurance of the precise date of unveiling, as its mandate was limited to raising the funds.
Noted British sculptor Philip Jackson gave a detailed account of how he chose a particular image for Mahatma Gandhi, helped by photographs and books given by Desai and the Indian High Commissioner, Ranjan Mathai.
Jackson was also able to give Gandhi a look of determination, when he met Gopalkrishna Gandhi, in London, who told him about this particular quality that Gandhi possessed. The statue is now in the process of being cast in bronze and would be ready for the proposed unveiling in early 2015.
Deepak Yadav, a UK-based Indian entrepreneur who has donated generously, spoke about why it was important for young people come forward and donate. He said he did not consider it a donation, but an honour and an investment in the future.