Funding for a permanent memorial to Mahatma Gandhi in London’s iconic Parliament Square is complete, with more than a little help from two wealthy India-based business tycoons.
The total of £750,000 was raised just days before the memorial’s original scheduled unveiling – 31 January – after a £200,000 donation from billionaire Infosys founder Narayana Murthy, the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust announced on Wednesday.
Mr Murthy’s bequest comes a month after his fellow India-based billionaire Rahul Bajaj – head of the Bajaj group – donated a similar amount to the fund.
“Mahatma Gandhi was someone who demonstrated the tremendous power of leadership by example. His courage and commitment are an inspiration and I am delighted that his statue will stand in such a respected setting”, Mr Murthy said.
The memorial was conceived by the British government as a symbol of the importance of the UK-India relationship and was seen as a bid by David Cameron to reach out to the influential British Asian community in the UK.
Whilst plans for the statue, first revealed in August, received widespread support from the community, donations were not as forthcoming.
In November, the chairman of the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust Lord Meghnad Desai, was moved to allay fears that the Trust would not be able to raise the full amount.
In a newspaper column in December, one leading British Asian commentator said the funding would be complete overnight if only the hundreds of thousands of admirers of the Mahatma in the UK donated a pound each to the fund.
Ultimately however, it appears that Lord Desai’s doubtless extensive little black book of contacts has come to the Trust’s’ rescue.
The Trust had originally hoped to unveil the statue just after Republic Day 2015 but a new date is yet to be scheduled.
The memorial – a nine-foot statue created by acclaimed British sculptor Philip Jackson – will be the second Gandhi statue in London and the final memorial to a historic figure on Parliament Square.