US President Barack Obama, who has often talked about the influence of Mahatma Gandhi on his life, on Sunday paid homage to the ‘apostle of peace’ at the Rajghat memorial here describing his spirit as a “rare gift” to the world. The American President placed a wreath, showered rose petals at Gandhi’s memorial and bowed before it with folded hands for some time.
“What Dr Martin Luther King Jr. said that remains true today: The spirit of Gandhi is very much alive in India today and it remains a rare gift to the world. May we always live in this spirit of love and peace among all people and nations,” Obama wrote in the visitors’ book at the memorial. Obama went straight to Rajghat after his ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. During his last visit here in 2010 also, he had paid tributes to Gandhi at the memorial.

The American President was presented a replica of Gandhi’s famous ‘charkha’ by the officials of the memorial. Obama also planted a sapling of the Peepal tree (Ficus religiosa) at the Rajghat. He has mentioned Gandhi on several occasions, even in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 2009.

Replying to a question on who would be his most favourite personality, dead or alive, to have dinner with, he had then said it would be Gandhi. “He’s somebody who I find a lot of inspiration in. He inspired Dr King (Martin Luther King Jr), 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,” he had said.

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