Gandhi a hero to world, says fan Obama

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Old 08-Nov-2010
Gandhi a hero to world, says fan Obama

Mumbai: US President Barack Obama’s visit to Mani Bhavan, once home, now museum to Mahatma Gandhi, was his own tryst with destiny. For someone who has admired the apostle of peace long before he wore the mantle of the first Black president of the US, the trip was a pilgrimage rather than a protocol.

At the end of a 30-minute guided tour of the museum, the most powerful left hand in the world wrote on the guest book: ‘‘I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to view this testament to Gandhi’s life.He is a hero not just to India, but to the world.’’

Elegantly dressed in a grey dress with a three-string pearl necklace round her neck, First Lady Michelle Obama was the perfect complement to her husband.She wrote,‘‘This visit will be one that I will always treasure. The life and teachings of Gandhi must be shared with our children around the world.’’

The presidential cavalcade reached Mani Bhavan around 2.55pm, 25 minutes before time. The dignitaries were received by Ushaben Gokani, the president of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and granddaughter of the Mahatma, as well as Vasant Pradhan, president of Mani Bhavan Sangrahalaya. Obama paid respects at Bapu’s bust on the ground floor. However, he neither offered flowers at the altar nor did the trustees garland him as is customary, keeping in view the security advisory.

Gokani said Michelle Obama embraced her and told her that the regret of not having met the Mahatma had been partly obliterated by meeting his granddaughter.
Honorary secretary of
Mani Bhavan, Ushaben Thakkar, showed the Obamas around the two-storied structure, leading them through the staircase, lined with paintings and photos, some belonging to 1917-1934 when Bapu lived there. They also browsed the doll’s museum that recreates milestone moments from Gandhiji’s life.

It was a special moment when Obama first looked into Gandhiji’s Spartan room. It still contains some artefacts of the time, including the charkha, for it was here that Bapu had learnt to spin khadi. At the end of the tour, Obama greeted the trustees one final time and the cavalcade departed.

Old 08-Nov-2010
Re: Gandhi a hero to world, says fan Obama

Obama credits Gandhi with helping him to presidency

NEW DELHI: US President Barack Obama paid fulsome tribute on Monday to Mahatma Gandhi and said studying the legacy of India's independence icon had helped propel him to the White House.

In an address to the Indian parliament as he wrapped up a three-day visit, Obama described the personal impact of Gandhi's teachings of non-violence and equality on his political career.

"Throughout my life, including my work as a young man on behalf of the urban poor, I have always found inspiration in the life of Gandhiji and in his simple and profound lesson to be the change we seek in the world," he said.

"I am mindful that I might not be standing before you today, as president of the United States, had it not been for Gandhi and the message he shared with America and the world," he added.

The president has often cited Gandhi as a key influence. He name-checked him in his Nobel peace prize acceptance speech and kept a portrait of Gandhi on the wall of his US Senate office.

Obama said he had been "honoured" to visit on Saturday the house where Gandhi used to stay on his trips to Mumbai, and on Monday he and his wife Michelle paid their respects at Rajghat -- the Gandhi memorial in New Delhi.

"We will always remember the great soul who changed the world with his message of peace, tolerance, of love," Obama wrote in the visitors' book.

"More than 60 years after his passing, his light continues to inspire the world."

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