Modi Unveils Gandhi's Statue in Aus, Says He's Still Relevant

G Sudhakar Nair/ Brisbane
Modi Unveils Gandhi's Statue in Aus, Says He's Still Relevant
PTI Photo Kamal Singh
Modi Unveils Gandhi's Statue in Aus, Says He's Still Relevant

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accorded a red carpet welcome here today as he kicked off his first bilateral visit to Australia, unveiling a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi with the message that he is as relevant now as he was during his time.

Modi, who is the first Indian prime Minister to visit Australia in 28 years after Rajiv Gandhi, exhorted the global community to take a cue from Gandhi's teachings of non-violence and love in meeting challenges like terrorism and global warming.

"I firmly believe that Mahatma Gandhi is as relevant today as he was during his time," said Modi, wearing a cream coloured shawl draped on his left shoulder, shortly after the conclusion of the G20 summit.

The bronze 2.5-metre statue of Gandhi is installed at Roma Street Parkland here in Australia's southeastern state of Queensland.

It was sculpted by Delhi-based Ram Suttar. As Modi entered the venue, a sea of raised hands greeted him.

"On October 2 (1869), a person was not born in Porbandar but an era was born," said Modi, amid a thunderous applause from the Indian diaspora gathered, Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey and Brisbane mayor Graham Quirk were also present.

"The world is grappling with two major challenges -- terrorism and global warming -- and these problems were causing anxiety," he said, noting that at the G20 Summit leaders spent a considerable time discussing these issues.

"If we look at Gandhi's life and his teachings, then we will be able to find solutions to the problems that the world faces today," he said.

Later, Modi was feted at a civic reception hosted in his honour by Queensland premier Campbell Newman at the City hall. He got a boisterous welcome.

A multi-cultural fiesta was organised in honour of Modi at the City Hall.

Speaking in English, Modi highlighted that India and Australia shared a "special bond", and asserted that relations between countries can prosper fully if states and cities are involved in international engagements.

"I am very keen to involve states in India in our international cooperation. Relations between countries can only prosper if we bring our states together," Modi, the former Gujarat Chief Minister, said.

"Lord Mayor, Brisbane has emerged as centre of advanced technology; at the same time Hyderabad is also known as Cyberabad. It is natural that the two cities have a sister-city relationship," he said.

In his address, Campbell, said relationship with India is going to spring forward in an unprecedented way.

The enthusiastic welcome for Modi by the Indian diaspora did not go unnoticed by Campbell who told the prime minister, "You have lots of fans in Brisbane."

From the stage, Modi shook hands with several people who lunged forward to have a closer glimpse of the Prime Minister. He later mingled with the gathering.

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