UK: Modi unveils Basaveshwara statue, inaugrates Ambedkar memorial

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Nov 14, 2015 23:51 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays homage at the statue of 12th century Indian philosopher Basaveshwara after unveiling it in London on Saturday. (AFP Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a memorial to BR Ambedkar and unveiled a statue of 12th-century philosopher-statesman Basaveshwara on the south bank of the Thames on the last day of his three-day bilateral visit to Britain marked by much pomp and protests.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been a strong critic of Modi since the 2002 Gujarat riots, called on him on Saturday morning. He wanted Britain to use the visit to raise human rights and caste issues with Modi, but details of his talks with Modi were not available.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Rajya Sabha MP Ramdas Athawale were present at the Ambedkar memorial inauguration in the house where the iconic leader of social justice lived while studying at the London School of Economics in 1920.

The house in north London was recently purchased by the Maharashtra government for £3.2 million. It will also provide a base for scholarly activities and residence for some students from Maharashtra.

Speaking at the inauguration of Basaveshwara’s statue, Modi recalled that the philosopher was a pioneer of free speech, equality and democracy long before Western thinkers.

Modi also used the last day of his visit to pay condolences to prominent industrialist Swraj Paul, whose son Angad jumped to death from his penthouse in central London on Monday.

A group of Indian women presented Modi a blanket made up of more than 2,500 squares of crochet and said that the squares represent their individuality as Indians while the end product represented ‘Unity in Diversity’.

Modi visited the manufacturing base of Tata owned-Jaguar Land Rover in Solihull, West Midlands, before leaving for Turkey for the G20 summit.

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