Bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi to be installed in Dublin

Dublin City Council agrees to accept statue following offer from Indian ambassador

Indian Ambassador Sandeep Kumar offered the bust as a gift to mark 150 years since Gandhi’s birth.

Indian Ambassador Sandeep Kumar offered the bust as a gift to mark 150 years since Gandhi’s birth.

 

A large bronze bust of Indian independence and civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi is set to be installed in Dublin following an offer from the Indian Ambassador, Dublin City Council (DCC) has confirmed.

The DCC protocol committee met on Thursday to discuss the installation of the statue in Dublin after the Indian Ambassador Sandeep Kumar offered the bust as a gift to mark 150 years since Gandhi’s birth.

In a letter sent to former lord mayor of Dublin Nial Ring in April 2019, Mr Kumar suggested that a bust of the late Indian independence campaigner, who died in 1948, be installed in the capital.

A photograph of the bronze bust of Gandhi. Photograph: Embassy of India to Ireland
A photograph of the bronze bust of Gandhi. Photograph: Embassy of India to Ireland

“As you are fully aware, India and Ireland share historical bonds in relation to our freedom struggle movements which helped us to collaborate against the same colonial power,” wrote Mr Kumar in a letter to Mr Ring.

“This year is the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and it will be benefiting to have the bust installed in Dublin City, as has been done in several cities throughout European Union (sic). The gesture will also highlight the multicultural spirit of Dublin, bringing out its inclusivity and diversity.”

A senior Dublin City Council spokesman confirmed that the protocol committee had discussed the proposal and “approved in principle the acceptance of the gift of the bronze bust subject to identification of a suitable location for the gift”.

He said the decision to accept the offer was “based on the strong historic links between India and Ireland and in particular through Mahatma Gandhi” and that the council will now begin investigating a suitable location for the bust.

Speaking with The Irish Times, Mr Kumar said he would like to see the bust placed in a public park and suggested the Glasnevin National Botanic Gardens, the Phoenix Park, Merrion Square and St Stephen’s Green as potential sites but acknowledged that the decision would have to be cleared and authorised by the local jurisdiction.

Peace and harmony

Indian sculptor Ram Vanji Sutar, who has created a number of busts representing Gandhi, has already been earmarked to design the Dublin statue which is expected to be about four feet (50 inches) wide and sit upon a stone pedestal.

“We would ship it here to Ireland and would cover the costs,” said Mr Kumar. “We just need to make sure it’s displayed in a prominent place in Dublin where all sections of society have access to it.”

Gandhi’s message is even more relevant today than at any time in history, said the ambassador underlining “his main messages of non-violence, peace, integration and harmony”.

“He was also very involved with women’s rights and environmental sustainable development. All of these are themes which would resonate in Ireland as well.

“He was a global leader and there were made other leaders in Ireland inspired by Gandhi. This is just an offer that would be a testament of our collaboration in modern times and growing our relationship in all fields.”

Mr Kumar has also contacted An Post suggesting that a stamp be released to mark the 150th anniversary of the Indian leader’s birth while the embassy is also working with a number of county councils to arrange the planting of Gandhi peace trees.

A number of statues and monuments dedicated to the Indian resistance leader are already dotted in cities around the world including London, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, Canberra and Geneva. Last year, a recently installed Gandhi statue was removed from the campus of the University of Ghana after lecturers petitioned for its removal and describing Gandhi as ‘racist’ towards Africans in his writing.