Jaitley to unveil Gandhi statue in UK at public ceremony
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will unveil the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at a ceremony open to the British public at Parliament Square in London on Saturday, the UK government announced on Tuesday.
London: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will unveil the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at a ceremony open to the British public at Parliament Square in London on Saturday, the UK government announced on Tuesday.
Jaitley is expected to be joined by British Prime Minister David Cameron at the public ceremony but his presence will be officially confirmed closer to the date due to security reasons.
The event will feature personal reflections from Gandhi's grandson and former Governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi and is aimed at giving the public the first glimpse of the sculpture created by award-winning artist Peter Jackson.
"It is with great pleasure that I have accepted Prime Minister Cameron's invitation to attend the inauguration of the new statue of Gandhi in Parliament Square in London.
Mahatma Gandhi will be honoured in this most prestigious location for his work in peacefully leading India's struggle for independence," Jaitley said in a statement in reference to his two-day UK visit on March 13-14.
He said: "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."
During his first visit to Britain as finance minister, the senior BJP minister will also hold talks with his UK counterpart, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, at a breakfast meeting on Friday morning.
He will also hold a meeting with UK culture secretary Sajid Javid to discuss the development of closer UK-India ties.
"I am delighted Shri Jaitley is coming to the UK to unveil this historic statue. The UK and India have strong links and I look forward to discussing ways both our countries can further prosper by working together. The relationship we have today with India is one that Mahatma Gandhi dreamed of ? as friends and equals," Javid said in a statement.
Jaitley is also scheduled to meet with top business leaders and investors at the London Stock Exchange (LSE) as well as address a gathering on 'Investment Opportunities in India' on Friday.
The sculpture at Parliament Square marks the culmination of months of worldwide fundraising by the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust, founded by NRI economist Lord Meghnad Desai.
The statue will stand alongside iconic figures like Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.