At Gandhi memorial, Obama gifted a spinning wheel


New Delhi : When he visited Rajghat Monday, US President Barack Obama became a rare guest to be gifted a model of the ‘charkha’, or the humble spinning wheel that was powerfully used by his icon Mahatma Gandhi during India’s independence movement.

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Nothing extraordinary was laid out for Obama, a self-confessed Gandhi fan, when he visited the memorial to the apostle of non-violence here around 10.15 a.m. Monday, accompanied by wife Michelle. But then, not all guests at Rajghat are gifted the charkha, which remains a simple yet strong symbol of Indiannes.

“We usually gift to guests a bust of Gandhi, some books and a khadi scroll with the seven social sins which Gandhi quoted in ‘Young India’ in 1925 imprinted on it. But in addition, we also got a big model of a charkha to gift to Obama, something we don’t give to all guests,” Rajnish Kumar, secretary of the Rajghat Samadhi Committee, told IANS.

The charkha was from the Kerala emporium.

“While giving him the spinning wheel, I told him how significant it was to India’s independence movement and he listened to every word with interest,” said Kumar, who received Obama and his wife at the memorial.

The committee gifted Obama three books on Gandhi – his autobiography “My Experiments with Truth”, “The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi” and “Mahatma Gandhi in 100 years”.

The seven social sins of which Gandhi wrote in the ‘Young Indian” and which were imprinted on the khadi scroll were: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.

Obama in return gifted a Martin Luther King Junior memorabilia to Rajghat. It was a piece of white stone from King Jr’s memorial at Washington DC. It was set on a small black base that had the presidential seal and Obama’s signature embossed on it.

Obama and his wife reached Delhi Sunday afternoon from Mumbai and will leave for Indonesia early Tuesday.