Shri Arun Jaitley, the Indian Finance Minister, is set to unveil the new statue of Mahatma Gandhi this Saturday as part of a two day visit to the UK. The ceremony in London’s Parliament Square on Saturday 14 March, will be open to members of the public from 9:15 am onwards, who will be the first to see the historic statue unveiling.
It is understood that Bollywood Superstar Amitabh Bachchan is planning to attend the unveiling and the ceremony will also feature personal reflections from Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, former Governor of West Bengal, Shri Gopalkrishna Gandhi. Besides other dignitaries, it will be attended by Lord and Lady Desai of the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust as well.
This will be Shri Jaitley's, whose official role in India is equivalent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in the UK first official visit to the UK as Finance Minister and the programme reflects the broad and deepening relationship enjoyed by India and the UK. This close partnership and co-operation between the UK and India is generating more jobs, growth and security for our two nations.
During his visit, Shri Jaitley will also meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, in order to discuss the development of closer UK-India ties. Shri Jaitley will also meet with top business leaders and investors.
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said: “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.
“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.”
UK Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “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."
The Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Britain’s longest serving Member of Parliament of Asian origin, has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons to commend the ceremony to unveil the Mahatma Gandhi statue on Parliament Square, due to take place on the 14th March.
Mr Vaz said: “People from around the world will be reminded of Mahatma Gandhi’s incredible legacy on the 14th March, as one of the most influential political figures of all time.
“The ceremony will be deeply symbolic of the cultural and political bonds shared by the United Kingdom and India, as our increasingly interlinked countries continue to forge a close and deeply important relationship.
“The strength of this symbolism is demonstrated by the hundreds of generous donors across the UK and India, who made this ceremony possible.
“I am very proud that we will be joined at the ceremony by the Indian Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley. It is marvellous that somebody so senior is coming to unveil the statue.”
People interested to attend the statue unveiling, for more details please see www.dcms.gov.uk
Foreign Secretary visits India ahead of Gandhi statue unveiling
Philip Hammond will visit Chandigarh and Delhi ahead of this weekend’s unveiling of the long-awaited statue of Gandhi in Parliament Square, London.
The Foreign Secretary will reiterate the Prime Minister’s invitation to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the UK, and will focus on deepening the warm relationship between India and the UK for the security and growth of both countries.
In Chandigarh, Mr Hammond will open the new British Deputy High Commission, attend the first meeting of the British Business Group, and meet with the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana.
Mr Hammond will then travel to Delhi, visiting the Gandhi Darshan museum on the 85th anniversary of Gandhi’s departure from Kankipur to begin the Salt March. He will meet with the Indian Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj and the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley.
The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “I am delighted to be making my first visit to India as Foreign Secretary. The UK’s partnership with India is indispensable for both our countries’ prosperity and security.
“Our partnership is deeply rooted in our overlapping histories, cultures and values. This Saturday, the long-awaited statue of Mahatma Gandhi in London’s Parliament Square will unite citizens from both our democracies in admiration for his teaching of civil rights and non-violence.
“I am particularly pleased to be opening our new Deputy High Commission in Chandigarh. The UK now has more diplomatic missions in India than any other nation does, and more than it has in any other country – a sure sign of the great importance we place on our relationship.”