UK to issue coin with Mahatma’s image

The UK government will issue a commemorative coin to mark the 150th birthday anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, British finance minister Sajid Javid said.

While the denomination bearing Gandhi’s image has not been revealed yet, Javid, who was culture secretary when a Gandhi statue was installed in London in 2015, told an annual awards event that as Master of the Royal Mint, he has called for plans to issue the coins to be advanced.

“I was incredibly proud, as culture secretary, to oversee the new Gandhiji statue outside Parliament. It was the first statue in Parliament Square of someone who had never held public office… Tonight, we take another step in honouring his memory,” he said.

“In recent years, we’ve had coins to commemorate important figures from every walk of British life. And being in charge of the nation’s coins is not an opportunity I’m going to pass up! Now is the time to add to that list,” he said.

“So I can announce tonight that I have asked the team at the Royal Mint to bring forward proposals for a new coin to commemorate Gandhiji,” Javid told the Asian Media Group’s GG2 Leadership Awards ceremony.

The annual GG2 Leadership Awards event was held here to celebrate the most influential members of UK’s South Asian community.

Javid, 49, son of Pakistani immigrants, paid tributes to Gandhi’s life and work, and highlighted the salience of his message. His teachings are going unheeded, Javid said.

“He showed us that words and ideas can be as powerful as guns. Never in my lifetime has there been a political moment like this. MPs’ children facing death threats. Rising extremism on our streets,” he said.

British Asians, Javid said, have helped shape modern Britain and are some of the most industrious and accomplished individuals in the country: they account for 6% of the population but generate over £100 billion a year to the UK economy.

The Asian power list released by the organisers for 2019 is topped by Javid and includes home secretary Priti Patel, Indian-origin campaigner Gina Miller, London mayor Sadiq Khan, chief secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak, Royal Society president Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and businessmen SP and GP Hinduja.