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Ghana Government decides to relocate Mahatma Gandhi’s statue from Legon University Campus

The statue of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled by President Pranab Mukherjee during his state visit to Ghana in June this year

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Mohandas Gandhi. Wikimedia
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Accra, October 6, 2016: The Ghanaian government has decided to relocate a statue of Mahatma Gandhi from the University of Ghana near Accra, following a move by a group of lecturers to have the statue pulled down over alleged ‘racist’ views expressed by Gandhi.

The decision was taken to ensure “its safety and to avoid the controversy on the Legon Campus becoming a distraction from our strong ties of friendship that have existed over the years”, a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

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“The unfortunate verbal attack on Mahatma Gandhi is effectively an attack on an Indian nationalist hero and icon, who is revered and cherished by over one billion people who are either citizens of India or persons of Indian decent,” the statement said.

The petitioners seeking relocation of the statue were led by a former director of the Institute of African Studies at the Legon university.

Last month, Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo led a group of lecturers to petition the University Council to remove the statue and listed, among other things, some remarks that Gandhi had made as far back as 1894 in South Africa.

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They quoted Gandhi as saying: “A general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa. Even the children are taught to believe in that manner, with the result that the Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir,” and contended that these were racist comments.

The group based their arguments on what, they said, had happened at other world class universities recently and mentioned Yale University in the US where it said: “Former bastions of slavery, apartheid and white supremacy, statutes and other symbols associated with controversial persons have been pulled down or removed.”

The ministry said it had followed with deep concern the acrimony generated by the recent campaign by a group of lecturers and students of the University of Ghana for the removal of the statue of the Indian national leader, Mahatma Gandhi, from the campus of the University of Ghana on grounds of the latter’s alleged past racist comments.

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The statue of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled by President Pranab Mukherjee during his state visit to Ghana in June this year.

The statement said Ghana’s relations with India date back to the early 1950s when Ghana’s then President Kwame Nkrumah struck a strong bond of friendship with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

“Diplomatic relations were soon established after Ghana’s independence in 1957. The two countries have since shared common positions on many issues of international concern,” it said.

Independence Arch in Accra. Wikimedia
Independence Arch in Accra. Wikimedia

“Ghana and India have championed the struggle for the liberation of oppressed peoples around the world and were strong in their condemnation of the obnoxious policies of the apartheid regime in South Africa,” it added.

“It is worthy of note that the statue of Mahatma Gandhi was erected on the University of Ghana campus with the consent of the university authorities. It was not compelled by the government to accept the statue,” the ministry said.

The statement acknowledged that human as he was, “Mahatma Gandhi may have had his flaws,” and said, “we must remember that people evolve. He inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.”

“In a global interconnected world where conversations that take place on social media are shared in real time, there is the potential to create disaffection not only at the level of government relations, but also between people not only in our country but all over the world,” the statement added.

It also urged Ghanaians to look beyond the comments attributed to Mahatma Gandhi and acknowledge his role as one of the most outstanding personalities of the last century who demonstrated non-violence. (IANS)

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393