Saturday 12 October 2019 3:05 AM UTC
LONDON Oct 12: Britain is set to become the first country outside India to mint coins with Mahatma Gandhi’s image. The announcement was made by British chancellor Sajid Javid on Thursday night.
The denomination bearing Gandhi’s image was not revealed but Javid, who was culture secretary when a Gandhi statue was installed in London in 2015, told an annual awards event that as Master of the Royal Mint, he has called for plans to issue the coins to be advanced.
He said: “I was incredibly proud, as Culture Secretary, to oversee the new Gandhiji statue outside Parliament.
It was the first statue in Parliament Square of someone who had never held public office… Tonight, we take another step in honouring his memory”.
“In recent years, we’ve had coins to commemorate important figures from every walk of British life. And being in charge of the nation’s coins is not an opportunity I’m going to pass up! Now is the time to add to that list”.
“So I can announce tonight that I’ve asked the team at the Royal Mint to bring forward proposals for a new coin to commemorate Gandhiji”, Javid told the Asian Media Group’s GG2 Leadership Awards ceremony.
Four Gandhi statues have been installed in a public place in the UK over the years – Tavistock Square, London (1968), Belgrave Road, Leicester (2009), Parliament Square, London (2015) and Cardiff Bay, Cardiff (2017).
A new one will be installed in Medieval Quarter, Manchester, on November 25.
Javid, 49, son of Pakistani immigrants, paid tributes to Gandhi’s life and work, and highlighted the salience of his message now when the United Kingdom’s political landscape is deeply divided by Brexit. His teaching are going unheeded, Javid regretted.
“He showed us that words and ideas can be as powerful as guns. Never in my lifetime has there been a political moment like this. Children of MPs are facing death threats. There is rising extremism on our streets”, he said.
British Asians, Javid said, have helped shape modern Britain and are some of the most industrious and accomplished individuals in the country: they account for 6 per cent of the population but generate over £100 billion a year to the UK economy.
The Asian power list released by the organisers for 2019 is topped by Javid and includes home secretary Priti Patel, Indian-origin campaigner Gina Miller, London mayor Sadiq Khan, chief secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak, Royal Society president Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and businessmen SP and GP Hinduja.
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