London: Justifying the decision to install a Mahatma Gandhi statue at the Parliament Square here, Prime Minister David Cameron has said the initiative would lead to Britain cementing its historical connection with India.
Cameron said there were “lots of reasons for the Gandhi statue to be installed at the British Parliament” alongside Britain's war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill and South Africa apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
“One (reason) is the importance of Gandhi to Indian history and the importance of Gandhi's teachings of non-violence and peaceful protests,” Cameron told ‘Asian Lite' newspaper during a visit to their office in Manchester.
The British Prime Minister said the initiative would lead to Britain cementing its historical connection with India. “A statue of Mahatma Gandhi standing alongside Churchill and Mandela at Parliament Square is highly appropriate and I am highly delighted that we have done this relatively quickly as sometimes the statues take a long time to be commissioned,” he said.
The statue was announced during a UK delegation visit to India last year following which the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust, a charity founded by NRI economist Lord Meghnad Desai, has been raising funds for it.
Cameron said that the teachings of Gandhi are relevant to anyone who wants to try to build a bigger and stronger society alongside a prosperous economy.
“I always remember Gandhi's message to journalists: ‘If you want to find yourself, you should lose yourself in the service of others and you should be the change that you want to see in the world',” he said.
The statue is expected to be launched in the early part of this year.
Earlier this week, the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust revealed that it has raised over 500,000 pounds in donations of an estimated 750,000 pounds required for the statue. Donations have ranged from 1 pound to 200,000 pounds as people from all over the world have pledged to support the sculpture designed by renowned sculptor Philip Jackson, the trust said.
“It's fantastic that we have reached this milestone in just three months, I cannot thank our generous supporters enough. We are now looking forward to the final push as more people come forward to support this historic monument,” said Lord Desai.
“In our latest calculations we need a total of £750,000 in all for all the work related to the statue, and so we are now well past the halfway mark. Any extra money will be used by the Trust to promote the work of Mahatma Gandhi further,” he said.