A historic bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi has been unveiled in Parliament Square next to iconic leaders Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.
Political leaders led by David Cameron and Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley were joined by Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan and Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna at the ceremony to unveil the nine foot statue.
Gandhi is the first Indian and the only person never to have been in public office to be honoured with a statue in the square.
The bronze figure was unveiled jointly by Cameron and Jaitley as chants of “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram”, a popular devotional song which was Gandhi’s favourite, reverberated in the grounds.
“This statue is a magnificent tribute to one of the most towering figures in the history of world politics and by putting Mahatma Gandhi in this famous square we are giving him an eternal home in our country,” said Cameron.
Quoting some of Gandhi’s famous words, Cameron highlighted how his teachings remain as potent today as they did decades ago.
“This statue celebrates the incredibly special friendship between the world’s oldest democracy and its largest, as well as the universal power of Gandhi’s message,” Cameron said.
“Our ties with India have remained close throughout history and continue to go from strength to strength- through mutual respect as equals, cooperation and trade, and of course through the one-and-a-half million Indians who do so much to make Britain the country it is today, bringing our two countries closer, to the benefit of both,” he added.
Jaitley, invited to the UK especially for the unveiling, said: “It is a great tribute to both British liberalism and British democracy that they have now chosen Gandhi to share what is the most prominent public space in this country. It is a great day when two adversaries and contrarian viewpoints converge to appreciate each other.”
“The statue will help ensure that the legacy of Gandhi lives on for future generations. It also marks an important, historic moment celebrating the strong bond between our two nations. India and the UK share the same values and we are a partnership of equals. This lasting friendship is just one of many legacies left by Gandhi, which I am keen that we work hard to strengthen further,” he added.