Indian donor pledges sixfigure sum for Gandhi statue in UK

LONDON (TIP): An Indian donor has reportedly stepped in to offer a major chunk of the funds required for the construction of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at Parliament Square in London. NRI economist Lord Meghnad Desai, founder-trustee of the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust, said the name of the donor will be known in due course. “I had a call yesterday from someone in India and he promised me a six-figure sum in donation.

He is a good friend and I am looking forward to that,” Desai said at a briefing in House of Lords here this morning. “The word is spreading around.We are getting very good support from donors and we have lots of pledges and money is also coming in through our website. I have also written to my colleagues in the House of Lords and they are doing their bit to help too.We are pretty sure we will achieve what we have set out to achieve,” he said.

While Desai has refused to give out the exact amount required, according to estimates the budget for the project is around 1 million pounds and initial donations and pledges have already raised nearly half that amount. “I am not worried. The statue will be unveiled some time in 2015. I would like it to be on January 30 (Martyr’s Day) but I don’t want to set an exact date to leave some scope for any random acts that may take place,” said Desai. Desai is also planning to set up an archive called ‘Gandhi House’ here that will store books and memorabilia of Mahatma Gandhi.

The statue, which will be the last one to be placed on Parliament Square, itself is being created on the lost wax process, which dates back to the Graeco-Roman times and follows the same procedure as that of the famous Renaissance sculpture of David created by Donatello. “I feel this came as a very fortuitous development in my life as exactly a year before I was at the Gandhi memorial in Delhi with my wife. It was almost like a tap on the shoulder from God,” said award-winning sculptor Philip Jackson who has based the sculpture on Gandhi’s last visit to London in 1931.

“I needed a hook to hang this on and felt the image of him draped in a thick shawl was most appropriate for Parliament Square. After that it involved a lot of research and the high commissioner (Ranjan Mathai) arranged a meeting with his grandson Gopal Gandhi which provided a great reference point. He has the same eyes as Gandhi and was also able to give me an insight into his character,” he said. The mould process of the sculpture is now complete which will be broken to be sent to the foundry to be cast in bronze.

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