World Coins

Britain set to honor Mahatma Gandhi on coinage

Leader Mahatma Gandhi is featured on two different Indian 10-rupee coins, from 1969 and 2015. He will soon be honored on coins from the United Kingdom.

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Mahatma Gandhi will soon appear on new coins, but these aren’t from India.

The revolutionary leader is chosen to appear on new coins from Great Britain, as first reported by the Times of India, a representative of the UK’s Treasury confirmed.

The news came Aug. 3, one day after Rishi Sunak, the current chancellor of the Exchequer (which oversees the Royal Mint), announced on Twitter that the previous day he had written to the Royal Mint, “urging them to consider how to celebrate the achievements of BAME [Black, Asian and minority ethnic] individuals on UK coinage.”

In a letter shared via Twitter, Sunak said he’s backing the “We Too Built Britain” campaign for more BAME representation on UK coins and paper money.

In that letter, to Lord Waldegrave (the chairman of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, which oversees coin designs), Sunak said, “Black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities have made a profound contribution to the shared history of the United Kingdom. ...  I know you are already seeking to fully consider diversity in future coin design and I very much welcome your efforts.”

Sunak’s letter was in response to a letter from Zehra Zaidi, who is behind the “We Too Built Britain” campaign.

Curiously, this effort to place Gandhi on coins follows by 10 months the announcement from Sunak’s predecessor, Sajid Javid, that he had asked the Royal Mint Advisory Committee to consider coins honoring Gandhi.

India has celebrated Gandhi on numerous coins, including four coins in 1969, denominated 20 paise, 50 paise, 1 rupee and 10 rupees.

In addition, the nation issued a 10-rupee coin in 2015 to honor his return from South Africa a century earlier.

He is also featured on noncirculating legal tender coins of other countries.

According to the Times of India, his selection is drawing mixed reactions from activists seeking minority representation on currency.

Some had hoped for individuals with stronger ties to the UK, and the article quoted Zaidi as saying “We never pushed Gandhi.”

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