UK: Donations for Gandhi statue cross £1 million target

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Feb 22, 2015 15:48 IST

As donations for Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament Square in London crossed the target of 1 million pounds, Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday announced that the statue will be installed and unveiled on March 14.

India will be represented at the event by finance minister Arun Jaitley, who is due to arrive on March 12.

Cameron said, "Mahatma Gandhi is an inspiration. His approach of non-violence will resonate forever as a positive legacy – not just for the UK and India, but the world over….The statue in Parliament Square not only marks his huge importance in the history of both our countries, but will enrich the firm bond of friendship between the world’s oldest democracy and its largest."

He added: “Our ties with India have remained close throughout history and continue to go from strength to strength – through mutual respect as equals, through cooperation, trade, and of course through the one-and-a-half million Indian diaspora living in Britain today who bring our two nations closer, to the benefit of both.”

Economist Meghnad Desai, chair of the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust, said, “Generous donors have contributed sums from a pound up to hundreds of thousands of pounds from UK, India and around the world…. As Gandhi said 'If the cause is right the means will come'."

The statue’s installation was announced during chancellor George Osborne’s visit to India in July last year. Other statues of iconic figures in Parliament Square include those of Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.

The statue, by noted British sculptor Philip Jackson, is based on a photo of Gandhi when he arrived in London for the Second Round Table Conference in 1931. It will be the second Gandhi statue in London, after the one installed in Tavistock Square in 1968.

Culture secretary Sajid Javid, who chairs the Gandhi Statue Special Advisory Board, said: “Gandhi is one of the most inspirational figures in history and the statute will be a fitting symbol to his teachings of non-violent, peaceful protests. It also highlights the strength of the relationship and friendship that Britain has with India today."

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