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Gandhi statue in London: Don’t stir up apathy, says Meghnad

world Updated: Nov 24, 2014 00:01 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
British government

Amidst demands that the British government fund the cost of installing Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament Square, economist Meghnad Desai, who heads a trust formed for the purpose, said the required one million pounds were on the way.

“I am going to get all the money. We are near the half-way mark, many people from India, the Indian diaspora and the white community here, including Lords, have contributed or committed. A major donation is coming from an Indian industrialist,” Desai told HT on Sunday.

Desai described growing demands that the statue should be funded by the government as attempts to ‘stir up apathy’, since all statues in Parliament Square (such as those of Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela) were installed through public subscription.

“It will be very strange if Gandhi’s statue were to be funded by the UK government. There is no problem, the statue has gone to the foundry for casting in bronze,” Desai said. A Gandhi-related exhibition is also planned in New Delhi to raise funds.

Days after prominent industrialist Swraj Paul asked the UK government to meet the statue’s expenses, senior Labour MP Keith Vaz on Sunday voiced a similar demand.

Vaz said: “The statue in London is apparently going to cost £1 million, including a staggering £250,000 for the sculptor. In addition, security on the unveiling day will cost £100,000, and almost £90,000 will have to be spent in Greater London Authority fees.”

He added: “I hope the mayor of London will waive these costs, considering his long-stated desire for closer UK-Indian relations. The British government must step in and provide support for this vital homage to one of history’s greatest leaders."