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Mahatma Gandhi to feature on British currency


Mahatma Gandhi is all set to become the first-ever non-white person to feature on the British currency.

According to reports, the Royal Mint advisory is said to be working to mint a coin to commemorate the life of Mahatma Gandhi—the hero of India’s independence movement.

The decision was taken amid growing interest in recognising the contributions of people from Asian, Black, and other minority ethnic communities.

British finance minister extends support

Rishi Sunak, the British finance minister, has reportedly extended his support to a campaign for ethnic-minority figures to be featured on coins.

In a letter, he asked the Royal Mint Advisory Committee (RMAC) to pursue recognition of individuals from minority communities, according to an emailed statement from the UK Treasury.

Sunak, in his letter, said members of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities have a ‘profound contribution’ to world history and the committee should consider recognising them on UK’s coinage.

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“For generations, ethnic-minority groups have fought and died for this country we have built together, taught children, nursed the sick, cared for the elder and through their enterprising spirit have started some of our most exciting and dynamic businesses, creating jobs and driving growth,” said Sunak.

RMAC considering coin featuring Gandhi

The RMAC is made up of experts who recommend themes and designs for coins to Britain’s finance minister.

“RMAC is currently considering a coin to commemorate Gandhi,” the Treasury said in the statement.

Mahatma Gandhi, referred to as India’s ‘Father of the Nation’, advocated non-violence throughout his life and inspired the civil rights movement across the world.  His birthday, which is on October 2, is observed as International Day of Non-Violence.

Mahatma Gandhi featured on a currency note in 1969

It was about half a century ago when the image of Mahatma Gandhi first appeared on the commemorative currency note of rupees 100 on the occasion birth centenary of the father of the nation.

Although after the Independence in 1947, it was felt that the British King’s portrait ought to be replaced by a picture of Mahatma Gandhi, it took quite some time for the government of the day to reach a consensus on the issue.

In the meantime, King’s portrait was replaced by Lion Capital at Sarnath in lieu of the Gandhi Portrait.

The Reserve Bank in 1969 came out with a commemorative note of Rs 100 showing Mahatma Gandhi seated in the backdrop of the Sevagram Ashram.

But the portrait of the father of the nation made its regular appearance on currency notes only in 1987 when the series of rupee 500 currency notes showing a smiling Gandhi was launched in October that year.

Since then Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait has been used regularly on currency notes of different denominations.


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