This weekend I had the privilege of meeting India’s Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, during his visit to London.
On Saturday 14th November, at a very special event, organised by the Basaveshwara Foundation and supported by PLMR, Mr Modi unveiled the statue of philosopher, statesman and poet Basaveshwara, in Lambeth.
The mastermind behind this project was a good friend of PLMR, Dr Neeraj Patil, a former Lambeth Labour councillor and past mayor of the borough.
Basaveshwara cultivated a special relationship with Britain when he began preaching British values of democracy, freedom of speech, equality of opportunity and tolerance back in the 12th century.
It was such an honour to be seated at the front watching Mr Modi speaking about and praising Basaweshwara for sharing with the world the principles of democracy and freedom.
“Basaveshwara fought against the caste system and evil forces in society. I hope people will try to understand what he advocated.
“When I was with (British) PM David Cameron he was showing me the Magna Carta. But long before then, Basaveshwara gave the principles of democracy,” Mr Modi said.
As with many of Mr Modi’s speeches, this one was exceptional. Even though he spoke in Hindi, everyone present was moved by his words.
On the day, Dr Patil also announced that the Basaveshwara Foundation was donating £250,000 to the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Garden, for offering the land where the statue has been installed.
As an Indian myself, this was truly a special day. Basaveshwara’s statue is the first Indian statue approved on the conceptual basis in the vicinity of British Parliament, and it was an absolute pleasure being involved.
A huge thank you to PLMR’s Managing Director, Kevin Craig, and also Mr Patil for organising such a fabulous morning.