A dignified atonement
Britain unveiled a statue of Indian independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi at the heart of the British establishment of Parliament Square, opposite other London landmarks like Big Ben and the House of Commons. His giant bronze statue will stand next to that of Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill - who famously called Gandhi a “half-naked fakir” - and other monuments to men who defended the British Empire that Gandhi fought against through his famously nonviolent and peaceful disobedience campaign. The statue was presented by British Prime Minister David Cameron and Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to mark the 100th anniversary of Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa to start the peaceful fight for India’s independence.
“This statue is a magnificent tribute to one of the most towering figures in the history of world politics and by putting Mahatma Gandhi in this famous square, we are giving him an eternal home in our country,” Cameron said in a statement ahead of the ceremonial event. The square is at the heart of British power, next to Westminster Cathedral, where the most famous British are buried. It shows the openness of the Westminster politicians who once resented Gandhi for his independence movement.
During their imperialist days, the British entered India in 1612 and ruled over the country from 1858 until independence in 1947. They caused lasting scars to the Indians through massacre, abuses, plunder and oppression. Modern-day British are trying to atone in a symbolic way by building an eternal home for the most revered Indian leader and iconic independence activist. The country paid respect to the victim country and its values while showing remorse for the past with dignity.
London said the statue celebrates a special friendship with the “world’s oldest democracy and its largest” by being placed on the site of the “mother of all parliaments.” Britain and India were celebrating democracy and peace by jointly celebrating the legacy of Gandhi. We advise the Japanese government to learn from the British and its way of atoning for the past and making amends with neighbors to seek a common future.
JoongAng Ilbo, Mar. 17, Page 30
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