President Mrs. Pratibhatai Patil is on a week-long England tour
'I would have liked to have dinner with Gandhi':
President Barack Obama,
whose hero is Abraham Lincoln, said Tuesday that if he had the
choice to have dinner with anyone, it would be with....
London: Describing Gandhi as a
"spirit, not an individual," President Pratibha Patil Wednesday
accepted the gift of Gandhi memorabilia on behalf of India from two
leading members of the Indian diaspora in Britain.
"I feel that
Gandhi was a spirit, not an individual - 'vyakti nahin, shakti',"
Patil said departing from her prepared speech after accepting a
series of letters written by Gandhi and a piece of khadi cloth
signed by him.
Businessmen Nat Puri and Ghulam Noon, who jointly bought the items at a Sotheby's
sale in July for 17,500 pounds, made the gift to India at a ceremony
in the Indian High Commission - completing a unique hat-trick of
similar presents made to the nation.
"Gandhi was a
spirit which went across not only in our own country, but crossed
the world, crossed the mountains and crossed the seas and reached
many countries, and many leaders like Martin Luther King Jr and
Nelson Mandela," said Patil.
"What he has done
is not only for India, but for humanity at large."
philanthropist who founded the Purico Group, and Noon, founder of
Noon Products, have gifted Gandhi documents and letters on two
previous occasions in a gesture of gratitude to India that was
started off by former London Metal Exchange chairman Lord Raj Kumar
Puri and Noon
gifted three lots of items: the first comprised three autographed
letters from Gandhi to Maulana Abdul Bari, an Islamic scholar and a
leading figure in the Khilafat movement, written in Urdu.
The letters refer
to Hindu-Muslim relations, including communal tensions in Lucknow,
and their personal friendship.
written from a prison thanked Bari, who worked closely with Gandhi
from 1918 onwards, for the gift of cotton for spinning.
He signs the
letters 'Mo. K Gandhi'.
The second lot
comprised a piece of khadi cloth - the size of a small scarf -
signed by Gandhi and said to have been woven by him. The hand-woven
cotton piece with a purple border is signed by Gandhi and four
others, including Pyarelal and Sarojini Naidu.
The cloth was a
gift from Gandhi to South African-born actress Moira Lester, a
friend of the late Maharani Gayatri Devi.
The third lot has
two autographed postcards addressed to Hamid Ullah Afsar, a
prominent Urdu-language poet, in Urdu.
The function was
attended by a select gathering of Indian-origin invitees, including
Conservative peers Sandeep Verma and Lord Sheikh, Labour peers Swraj
Paul and Adam Patel, academic Bhikhu Parikh, Belfast-based
industrialist Daljit Rana, former Tata director Manek Dalal, Liberal
Democrat peer Naveneet Dholakia, Cobra Beer part-owner Karan
Bilimoria, industrialists Srichand and Ashok Hinduja, Loomba Group
chairman Raj Loomba, the leader of the Conservative Party in the
lower house, Sailesh Vara, Indian High Commissioner Nalin Surie and
the British High Commissioner to India Sir Richard Stagg.
"We can talk and
talk about Gandhi," said Noon, "but I'll say only one thing: Gandhi
said that there is no greater sin than to oppress innocent human
beings in the name of god, which is what is happening everywhere in
the world, not only in India."
other wealthy Indian-origin Britons to make similar contributions to
India, saying: "It's not just us, it's an opportunity for all of you
to replicate similar things. In the meantime, we will go on doing
what we can."
Labour peer Adam Patel said it was a revelation to him that Gandhi
could write fluently in Urdu.
"I came to know
only today that Gandhi could write in Urdu. To me that says it all:
Gandhi learnt the languages and scripts of India with the aim of
integrating and developing all the communities. He remains supremely
relevant to today's India," Patel told IANS.
Patil in her
speech said: "Gandhi was a master of many languages. Though he
belonged to India, he is not only India's property, but the property
of the entire world - a boon to humanity."