Sunday, November 07, 2010

About Obama's Asian trip

I just found an article that was pubished last Friday on the website. Here's the headline:

Mahatma Gandhi Remains Obama's Inspiration

Here's part of what it says:

"Barack Obama has been profoundly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. The father of the Indian nations' commitment to social justice, equality and the spirit of satyagraha left an indelible mark on Barack Obama, shaping his polity," Ahmedabad's Sabarmati Ashram secretary Amrut Modi told IANS over telephone.

Sabarmati Ashram, or the Gandhi Ashram, was the Mahatma's official residence and played a key role in the famous Dandi March in 1930. It is now a museum, memorial and crafts centre dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi in the heart of Ahmedabad city.

Obama may not be visiting the sylvan retreat of the Mahatma tucked away along the Sabarmati river, but he is the only US president who will visit Gandhi's memorial at Rajghat and the Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya - the Mumbai home of the Mahatma from 1917 and 1934.
"Gandhi inspired several coloured leaders like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. The latter travelled to India with his wife to study Gandhi's 'satyagraha'," Modi said.Obama is no exception "because he has a vision for his people and champions the cause of equality," he said.

Here's the problem as I see it: Gandhi was not prime minister when he exercised his powerful leadership that resulted in the liberation of India. Martin Luther King Jr. was not president when he was an inspired and inspiring leader in the United States. And although Mandela eventually became president of South Africa, his greatest influence was before he attained that office. In other words, these great men were able to accomplish what they did without having to worry about political survival in the process.


  1. I think this is very true, Ellie. It may be too that Obama is so idealistic that it took him a long while to realise that his political foes were as unscrupulous as they are. I think he probably started out believing that the Republicans fundamentally wanted the best for the US, including its financial recovery, even if they wanted to achieve that by different means. Unfortunately I don't think the Republicans really give a toss about the welfare of ordinary Americans - what they basically want is to gain and then stay in power, at any price. They will quite happily see everything Obama tries to do scuppered even if it would improve life for the people. He has also been idealistic enough to try to persuade them to support his strategies, which they are never going to do. That again is where Clinton would have handled them better. I think she would have basically come out swinging hard from the start, and with people prepared to play so dirty that's what you have to do.

  2. What I was originally going to say was that Clinton would have got the Republicans by the collective hair and kneed them in the face. On reflection that would have worked even better than swinging.

    Obama always did strike me, well before he even won the Democrat race, of having a touch of Tony Blair about him. Like Blair he was young, clever, well-presented and all the right principles came out of his mouth, but I was never quite sure about the substance. I do think he is an honourable man, which Blair may or may not be, but it seems that is not enough.

    Then again, the global economy at the moment has left things in such a mess for everyone that probably no one can sort it out, or not quickly enough for kneejerk voters, anyway.

  3. I completely agree with both your comments, Cathy. You really seem to have a good grasp of American politics, by the way.

  4. Thanks, Ellie.

    They beggar belief, the Republicans. I hope the first woman president in the US isn't Sarah Palin, by the way, but there's a good chance she will be :-(


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