As a child my father had bought me scores of books about Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Martin Luther King and John F Kennedy many of which I have lost on the way. My father and I were frequent visitors to Baskaran Nair’s kiosk in Pulimoodu Junction, Pai & Sons at Statue Junction and the famous Higginbothams in Thiruvananthapuram in India in the sixties.
The famous “I have a dream” speech of Martin Luther King made on the 28th August 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial had remained deeply embedded in my mind as much as the famous “Sisters and Brothers of America” speech of Swami Vivekananda who addressed the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
Later on, as I took interest in history I came to know that Mahatma Gandhi’s Principles of Non-violence have been a source of inspiration for many freedom movements across the globe. It is indeed a matter of great pride for Indians. Today yet again President Obama made me feel proud of our Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi when Obama said that Gandhi was his hero. I am a great admirer of Obama and I felt elated to hear his opinion about Gandhiji.
The Hindustan Times carried a good piece of news about this matter and I thought of sharing with you all.
'Mahatma Gandhi is my hero', says Obama
Lalit K Jha, Press Trust Of India
Washington, September 09, 2009
First Published: 10:33 IST(9/9/2009)
Last Updated: 10:52 IST(9/9/2009)
US President Barack Obama has said given a chance he would like to have dinner with Mahatma Gandhi, whom he considered a real hero.
Obama expressed his desire in response to a question from a student Lilly during his discussion with 9th graders at Wakefield High School in Arlington Virginia where he accompanied with the Education Secretary gave a national speech welcoming students back to school.
Obama called for students to take responsibility and to learn from their failures so that they succeed in the end.
"Hi. I'm Lilly. And if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?," Obama was asked by one of the students.
"Dinner with anyone dead or alive? Well, you know, dead or alive, that's a pretty big list," Obama responded amidst laughter. The next moment he was serious.
"You know, I think that it might be Gandhi, who is a real hero of mine," Obama said. "Now, it would probably be a really small meal because he didn't eat a lot," he said amidst laughter. But Mahatma Gandhi is someone who has inspired people across the world for the past several generations, he said.
Terming the iconic figure as the source of inspiration for many, Obama said "he (Mahatma Gandhi) is somebody whom I find a lot of inspiration in. He inspired Dr King (Martin Luther), so if it hadn't been for the non-violent movement in India, you might not have seen the same non-violent movement for civil rights here in the United States".