A statue of the world's first cosmonaut, Yury Gagarin, was unveiled on Friday, December 30 in Mumbai on the grounds of the Nehru Science Center.
"Gagarin is a man who is known and loved around the world, including India. He visited India and was in Bombay, as Mumbai was called then. Mumbai's older generation still remembers his visit," Anil Manekar, the director of the Nehru Science Center, told.
About 700,000 people visit the Science Center each year, he said. "Interest in science, in space research is very high in India. We are confident this bust of Gagarin will be an important attraction for our center," he said.
The dignitaries at the unveiling ceremony included Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin, Russian General Consul in Mumbai Alexei Novikov and Mumbai Mayor Shraddha Jadhav.
Ambassador Kadakin recalled that Russian-Indian space cooperation began well before a Soviet carrier rocket put India's first satellite, Aryabhata, into orbit in 1975. "Russia is actively participating in India's crewed space program," he said.
Russia is providing support for India's lunar Chandrayaan-2 mission now in preparation and the two countries also collaborate on Russia's GLONASS global positioning system, Kadakin said.
Gagarin's bust is located near the Science Center's main entrance. India already has one other monument to Gagarin, located on the grounds of the Russian Science and Culture Center in the southern city of Trivandum.