The Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust was established by eminent PIO economist Meghnad Desai.
The trust aims to commemorate the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi: his contribution to the advancement of human rights, citizenship, the promotion of racial harmony, equality and diversity, by establishing and maintaining a public statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square.
The statue will stand alongside statues of great political leaders including Britain’s war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill, American President Abraham Lincoln and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.
The ambition is for the monument to be in place early next year – providing a focal point for commemoration next summer of the 100th anniversary of Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa to start the struggle for self-rule, as well as the passing of 70 years since his death in 2018, and the 150th anniversary of his birth in 2019.
The proposal has the full support of the Government, and a Special Advisory Panel led by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid MP has been set up to advise on the establishment of a fitting tribute to Gandhi. . The Panel includes: Lord Desai; Jo Johnson MP, Head of the Downing Street Policy Unit; Cllr Robert Davis, Deputy-Leader Westminster Council; Sir Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor Policy and Planning GLA; Lord Bilimoria; Priti Patel MP, the Prime Minister’s Diaspora Champion; Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery; Vijay Goel, Chair, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Asian Business Association; H.E. Mr. Ranjan Mathai, High Commissioner of India to the UK; Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, DECC; and Hugo Swire MP, Minister of State, FCO.
Philip Jackson, the leading British figurative sculptor, renowned for his statues on the memorials to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in the Mall and Bomber Command in Green Park, amongst others, has been approached to take on this prestigious project. Donald Insall Associates are the architects and planning consultants.
About Lord Desai
Meghnad (Lord) Desai is an Indian born, UK based, economist and academic. He taught at the LSE where he is now Emeritus Professor of Economics. He was made a peer in 1991 taking his seat as Lord Desai of St. Clement Danes on the Labour benches. He was awarded the Bharatiya Pravasi Puraskar by Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004 and the Padma Bhushan by President Pratibha patil in 2008. He wrote the Rediscovery of India in 2009 and has written and spoken on Mahatma Gandhi extensively.
“I have often walked through Parliament Square looking at the statues of politicians and statesmen from around the world. Lincoln, Mandela, Lloyd George, Churchill and Smuts are all there. I often wondered, why not Gandhi? I was delighted when this initiative was proposed and I want to do all I can to raise the money needed. There is a great history in the UK of statues being funded through broad public support. Gandhi belongs to the world and everyone.
“This statue may stand for hundreds of years so I hope that we receive hundreds if not thousands of small donations from people around the world, all of whom will all be part of history. Gandhi means so much to many people, not only to India. He is remembered all over the world, from South Africa where he spent twenty one years of his life and led people in a nonviolent protest against injustice to the United States where he inspired the civil rights movement.
“Gandhi is also a Londoner. He arrived in London before he was 19 and spent three years studying here. It is in London that he learned about his religion from theosophists and joined the Vegetarian Society becoming its Secretary. It is here that he matured, qualifying as ‘an English Barrister’ as he liked to call himself in India and South Africa while he practised. Gandhi kept on coming back to London from South Africa to plead the case for justice for Indians settled in South Africa. He left South Africa to go to India in 1915 travelling via London. His final visit was for the Round Table Conference in 1931, the pictures of which inspired this statue.”