Former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Davie Mayor Judy Paul unveiled a seven feet tall bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi on October 02, 2012 in the Town of Davie, Florida.
Thousands of residents from the area including Indian American families joined the festivities despite the heavy rains. It was quite a miracle that the rain stopped for enough time to allow the Unveiling Ceremonies to complete and started raining again when His Excellency Abdul Kalam commented “what an auspicious occasion!”
President Abdul Kalam was received at the Airport by the Board of Trustees of the Mahatma Gandhi Square Florida – a Corporation organized for the purpose. Among them were Dr. Piyush C. Agrawal, Mr. Joy Kuttiyani, Mr. Babu Varghese, Mr. Shekar Redddy, Mr. Chacko Philip, Mr. Hemant Patel, Vivek Swaroop, and Dr, Sajan Kurian.
Welcoming the President, Mayor Judy Paul enumerated many of the accomplishments of her guest. She particularly drew the attention of her audience to Dr. Kalam’s humble beginnings and challenged the children in the audience to follow his path by being good in mathematics and sciences.
The members of the Town Council, State Senators Nan Rich and Eleanor Sobel and several elected officials were present to witness the dedication ceremony which was a “living tribute to world peace and the quest for social justice” as the Mayor said.
The Mayor Judy Paul declared the day as the “World Peace & Mahatma Gandhi Day.”
The 800 pound statue was sculpted by Matt Glenn of Big Statues, Provo, Utah in cooperation with Sculptor’s Guild. As a token of respect to Gandhi, they also contributed toward the cost of the Statue.
Babu Varghese, a member of the Board and an Engineer by profession, designed the Gandhi Square with half an acre of land that houses the Statue. The square patterns with alternating colored step stones leading to the Statue represent the steps Gandhi took in his lifetime struggle to achieve freedom to his people.
These steps are bordered by lighted stone pillars which represent a “pathway of light” leading up to the Statue itself. Then there are concentric circles with the curved wall behind it as if showing the letter G (for Gandhi) from above in an abstract form. Soon, the stately Palm trees shall be there as they symbolize life, eternity, wisdom and victory.
Babu said “What an honor for an Indian living in America to design a Gandhi Square here!”
Joy Kuttiyani who initiated this Project said “What a wonderful achievement it is for the Indian Community!”
Responding to the warm reception accorded him by the leadership of the town of Davie, Broward County and the State of Florida and the Indian American Community, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam reflected on Gandhi’s life and the relevance of his teachings in today’s world. Then he talked about “Creative Leadership” which means exercising the vision to change the traditional role from the commander to the coach, manager to mentor, from director to delegator and from one who demands respect to one who facilitates self-respect. This is the kind of creative leadership that has been instrumental in creating the Gandhi Square in Davie and deserves our gratitude.
During his visit to Davie, Dr. Kalam, despite his extremely tight schedule, was very generous with time, especially with photo opportunity for the Indian American Community leaders.
“It was a delightful event” said Piyush Agrawal.