London, Nov 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday unveiled here a statue of Basaveshwara, the 12th century Indian philosopher and social reformer, praising him for giving the world ideals of democracy much before the Magna Carta.
"Basaveshwara fought against the caste system and evil forces in society. I hope people will try to understand what he advocated," Modi said.
Describing Basaveshwara as a Karma Yogi, Modi said he spread the message 'work is worship' and advocated parliamentary democracy much before the Magna Carta.
"When I was with (British) PM David Cameron he was showing me the Magna Carta. But long before him Basaveshwara gave the principles of democracy," he said. Magna Carta, meaning 'The Great Charter', is one of the most famous documents in the world.
Originally issued by King John of England (1199-1216) as a practical solution to the political crisis he faced in 1215, Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law.
"This statue will be an inspiration for all those who believe in democratic ideals," he said. Dr Neeraj Patil, the former mayor Lambeth who initiated the drive for installing Basaveshwara's statue here, announced that the Basaveshwara Foundation will donate 250,000 pounds to the friends of Vauxhall Plessure Garden for donating the land where the statue is installed.
Basaveshwara shares a conceptual relationship with Britain because he preached British values of democracy, freedom of speech, equality of opportunity and tolerance way back in the 12th century.
Basaveshwara's statue is the first Indian statue approved on the conceptual basis in the vicinity of British Parliament.