A US city in the heart of the Mississippi Delta region, whose economic fortunes have been recently revived largely by a company founded by an Indian-American, will install a bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi.
The unveiling of the bust, which has been commissioned and supplied by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and designed by famous sculptor Ram Sutar, would be carried out during a ceremony in the city of Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Coahoma County on Friday.
“We are humbled by this most generous gift. Gandhi was among the most courageous and spiritual of men. He led his nation to freedom not with guns but with simplicity, determination, truth and non-violence. His efforts inspired the world, including the leaders of our own nation’s Civil Rights Movement, such as Dr King (Martin Luther King Jr) and the late Congressman John Lewis,” said Clarksdale Mayor Chuck Espy.
India’s Consul General in Atlanta Dr Swati Kulkarni would formally present the bust to the city, a media statement said.
The ceremony takes place in the week of Gandhi’s birthday and during the celebratory 75th anniversary year of India’s Independence.
Clarksdale and Coahoma County are located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta region, near the Mississippi River.
While the region has suffered depopulation and loss of jobs in recent decades, an influx of new industry, job opportunities and people during the past four years have begun to reverse the community’s fortunes, according to the statement.
The Indian-American community has played a significant role in that progress, a city official said.
“Having recruited PeopleShores to Clarksdale, which was founded by Indian-American Murali Vullaganti, I have seen firsthand their commitment to training their employees not only with technical skills, but most importantly, essential life skills,” said Jon Levingston, executive director of the Crossroads Economic Partnership.
PeopleShores is a for-profit social enterprise that brings technology-driven jobs to the “shores” of economically challenged communities in the United States.
The event is being sponsored by the Crossroads Economic Partnership, a collaboration of the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Authority of Coahoma County; PeopleShores, a social enterprise; and Indiaspora, a nonprofit organisation of global Indian diaspora leaders.
“Their care and thoughtfulness in providing employees new educational and job opportunities are helping to break the generational cycles of poverty that have gripped our region for decades,” Levingston said.
There is also a fully staffed medical clinic in the PeopleShores building to address without charge the healthcare needs of those citizens who have no health insurance, he said.
“Their leadership in this endeavor and their embodiment of the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi makes this gift even more meaningful and resonant for us,” he said.
“Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings and principles continue to be a guiding light now as much as ever. This is especially relevant today when we are grappling with uncertainty in the face of a global pandemic, as well as a new social awakening in the US,” said MR Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora.
“We are delighted to be engaged in this community-wide effort. We hope the Indian diaspora can continue to serve as a force for good, as a bridge between countries, and as global ambassadors for Gandhi's message. Our hope is that his legacy is a reminder of what is possible,” he added.