London, August 24
A new statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be inaugurated in the UK city of Manchester later this year after a local council approved plans for it as a symbol of peace on Friday.
The 9-foot high bronze sculpture by Indian artist Ram V Sutar will be installed outside Manchester Cathedral in the heart of the city to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Indian Nation in November.
The Mahatma Gandhi Statue Project, an initiative of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur (SRMD), a worldwide spiritual movement headquartered in India, had submitted the proposal as epitomising the city's resilience in the aftermath of the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena in May 2017, an Islamic State (ISIS) claimed attack which claimed 23 lives.
"Following the 2017 Arena attack, Manchester's unique civic pride displayed the values of non-violence and compassion. We are inspired by the people of Manchester for their strength, decency and community in the face of this unparalleled tragedy," said Manthan Taswala, spokesperson for SRMD UK, which believes in propagating Gandhi's teachings.
"The statue of Gandhi will celebrate the universal power of his message. A statue in Manchester will ensure that the heart of our politics and democracy can all be blessed with his ethos," Taswala added.
The charitable organisation is being backed in its project by Manchester Cathedral, Manchester City Council and the High Commission of India and the costs are to be covered by the Indian-origin Kamani family in memory of their late scion Bhanji Khanji Kamani. Manchester City Council approved the plans submitted for the project this week without any objections from any of the members.
"It's great to see planning approval granted for the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Manchester," said Bob May, Director at consultancy firm Turley, which provided the expert planning support for the project.
"We thoroughly enjoy working on projects such as this that reflect Turley's values and commitment to good growth, enabling us to contribute to the communities we are part of and make a positive difference in the places that we help shape," he said.
The UK has many iconic Gandhi statues, including two sculptures of Gandhi in London—at Tavistock Square and Parliament Square—as well as one each in Leicester, Birmingham and Cardiff.
As part of the Indian independence movement leader's 150th birth anniversary celebrations, SRMD UK has now planned a public event on November 25 to unveil the latest addition to these statues at a gathering in Manchester of senior figures from the Indian diaspora and government. PTI