Canberra: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today gifted Australian lawyer John Lang's 1854 petition on behalf of Rani Lakshmibai against the East India Company to his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott.
Modi gave the gift to Abbott just ahead of bilateral talks. "PM gifts Australian PM a memorial of Australian John Lang on behalf of Rani of Jhansi against East India Company," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted.
"John Lang's Original petition of 1854 on behalf of Jhansi ki Rani against the East India Company," Akbaruddin said describing Modi's gift to Abbott. Earlier, Modi was given a ceremonial guard of honour and a 19-gun salute at the forecourt of the Parliament. Prime
Minister Abbott and several Indians were also present on the occasion.
Then he proceeded towards the Prime Minister's Office for bilateral talks. Modi's gifts to Abbott brought Australian John Lang's contribution in Indian history to the fore. Born in 1816 in Sydney, Lang is generally regarded as Australia's first native novelist. As a man of many talents, he was also a lawyer, journalist and born traveller.
In 1842, he sailed to India and made the country his new home, even learning the Hindustani language. While carrying on a successful legal practice, he started a newspaper in 1845 called 'The Moffusilite', published initially from Meerut and later from Mussoorie.
The paper often took a critical stance against the British East India Company's harmful policies and consequently he was sued and briefly jailed by the Company. In 1854, Lang became the Counsel of the Maharani Lakshmibai of Jhansi - an iconic figure in the famous Indian uprising of 1857 against the East India Company's rule and represented her in legal battles against the Company.
Modi is the first Prime Minister to visit Australia in 28 years after Rajiv Gandhi in 1986. Modi's four-city Australia tour covers Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.