Winston Churchill once described Mohandas Gandhi, the Indian independence leader who challenged the might of the British empire, as a “seditious Middle Temple lawyer.” On another occasion, he said Gandhi “ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant.”
Wonder what he’d make of a 9-foot-tall Gandhi statue unveiled today, near his own, in London’s Parliament Square?
NPR’s Ari Shapiro, who reported on the story for our Newscast unit, says the “statue underscores how much the relationship has changed between the U.K. and India since Gandhi fought for independence from Britain nearly 70 years ago.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron watched as Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley unveiled the statue to mark the 100th anniversary of Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa to start the movement for independence from Britain.
“This statue is a magnificent tribute to one of the most towering figures in the history of world politics,” Cameron said. “Many of his teachings remain as potent today as when he first made them.”
Jaitley said the statue “marks an important, historic moment celebrating the strong bond between our two nations.”
The statue is the work of British sculptor Philip Jackson. It’s based on photographs taken of the independence leader, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, outside the British prime minister’s offices in 1931. It joins the statues of Churchill and other British leaders, as well as President Lincoln and South African leader Nelson Mandela.
The Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust, which raised $1.5 million for the statue, placed it lower than others in Parliament Square to reflect Gandhi’s projection of himself as a man of the people. They wanted the statue to stand among the visitors to Parliament Square.