A statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the inspiration for the non-violent civil rights movement, will be unveiled in London’s Parliament Square on 14 March, the Prime Minister David Cameron announced today.
The bronze statue will be the focal point for the commemoration this summer of the 100th anniversary of Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa to start the struggle for self-rule.
The date for the unveiling has been announced as the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust has surpassed the £1 million mark in donations for the statue.
Prime Minister David 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. He was a man of great insight and many of his observations remain as fresh and relevant today as when he first made them - that we should be the change we wish to see in the world is timeless advice, well worth following. 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.
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.
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 statue 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.
I would like to thank Lord Desai and the work of the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust for raising the funds to make this happen. It is right that Gandhi’s teachings and work are not forgotten and the statue will keep his legacy alive and inspire many young people to learn his incredible story.
Lord Desai, Chair of the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust said:
It is great that there will be a monument honouring Gandhi in London’s Parliament Square, which was one of his favourite cities. He is the first Indian and the only person honoured with a statue in the Square who never held public office.
Generous donors have contributed sums from a pound up to hundreds of thousands of pounds from UK, India and around the world. On behalf of the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust we thank all who made it possible for us to exceed our target of a million pounds within six months. As Gandhi said ‘ If the cause is right the means will come ‘.
Priti Patel, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and UK Indian Diaspora Champion said:
The statue of Gandhi will be an incredible symbol of democracy and celebrate the life of a man of true greatness.
His story and work is one that the whole of humanity can learn from and be inspired by but it, of course, also has a special resonance with the Indian Diaspora community living in Britain today. The statue will be a lasting tribute to our strong ties with India.
The statue is being created by leading British sculptor, Philip Jackson, renowned for statues of the Queen Mother and Bomber Command. Jackson started work on the statue in July.