'There is no moral conflict over this.' Hague defends pushing sales to India while citing inspiration of pacifist icon Gandhi

The ministers have also been promoting the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, which is partly built in Britain

Delhi

Foreign Secretary William Hague has defended promoting British weapons sales to India on the same day he announced plans to erect a statue of pacifist icon Mohandas Gandhi in London. The statue has been dismissed by Gandhi’s great grandson as “false worship”.

On a two day visit to India during which they confirmed a £250m missile deal deal and pushed the merits of the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, Mr Hague and Chancellor George Osborne visited the site where the independence leader was assassinated in 1948.

“Gandhi’s view of communal peace and resistance to division, his desire to drive India forward, and his commitment to non-violence left a legacy that is as relevant today as it was during his life,” said Mr Hague. “He remains a towering inspiration.”

The ministers said that the statue of the man who opposed the British Empire, to be sculpted by Philip Jackson, will be placed in Parliament Square. Among other statues already located there is one of Sir Winston Churchill, who once described Gandhi as “a half-naked fakir”.

The announcement came a day after Mr Osborne confirmed a £250m deal for British manufacturers to provide missiles to the Indian Air Force. The Indian authorities will receive the air-to-air missiles from MBDA, a weapons maker that is a joint venture between BAE Systems, the Franco-German group Airbus and Finmeccanica of Italy.

The ministers have also been promoting the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, which is partly built in Britain. India is looking to buy 126 fighter jets and had identified the French Rafale as its preferred choice. Yet repeated delays on signing the deal have left Britain hopeful that India may yet opt to buy the Typhoon.

Chancellor George Osborne and William Hague pushed the merits of the Eurofighter Typhoon jet (AGP/Getty) Chancellor George Osborne and William Hague pushed the merits of the Eurofighter Typhoon jet (AGP/Getty) Asked whether it was morally appropriate to be pushing arms deals to a nation with widespread social challenges while citing the inspiration of Gandhi, Mr Hague said Britain followed strict rules relating to weapons sales.

 

He said every nation had the right to defend itself. “There is no moral conflict over this.”

Mr Osborne, who also announced plans for a £1 billion credit-line for projects in India involving UK companies, claimed it was fitting the statue of Gandhi should be placed at Westminster. “He is a figure of inspiration, not just in Britain and India, but around the world,” he said.

Yet many have questioned the plans, including Gandhi’s great grandson, Tushar Gandhi.

“It’s a nice way to apply a soothing balm to their consciences, to raise a statute,” said Mr Gandhi, a social activist who said he hoped some people might be inspired by Gandhi’s message of non-violence when they saw the statue. “I have seen such false worship for 60 years, so I have stopped feeling queasy.”

India is the world’s largest importer of arms, accounting for 14 per cent of total sales. It has increased imports by more than 100 per cent over the last five years. Its purchases far exceed those of China and Pakistan, which are the second and third largest importers of arms, according to data collated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Ann Feltham of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, said that there was a clear contradiction between the UK selling arms to India and promoting the values of Gandhi.

“Gandhi would undoubtedly have advocated restraint on all military sales to India,” she said. “He would not have promoted sales to India, nor have armed what the Chancellor has described as its “very difficult” neighbours, presumably China and Pakistan.”

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone