SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 11, 2009 – In his recent speech at a Virginia high school, President Obama called Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi a “real hero of mine,” describing the Indian icon as someone with whom he would like to dine.
When a student at the high school asked Obama who he would choose if he could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, the president picked Gandhi. He said, “He is somebody whom I find a lot of inspiration in. He inspired Dr. King.” Yet Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI) contends that in reality Gandhi was so deeply prejudiced against black-skinned people and committed to the Hindu caste system that he would never have sat for dinner with Obama.
“We really expected Obama to pick his role models more appropriately,” said Bhajan Singh, a Founding Director of OFMI. “There’s no excuse for his ignorance. Casual students of the subject can easily find information about Gandhi’s racism, which has even been discussed multiple times on the House floor by African-American Congressman Edolphus Towns. Has political expedience caused Obama to refuse to acknowledge the historical abuse of his own race?”
The claims made by OFMI were recently presented to the academic world by Col. G.B. Singh and Dr. Tim Watson, authors of “Gandhi Under Cross-Examination” (Sovereign Star, 2009). Their book discusses Gandhi’s infamous train journey, when he was reportedly thrown off a train in Pietermaritzburg after refusing to move from a first to a third-class seat to accommodate a white man’s demands. Arguing that Gandhi fabricated the entire incident, the authors also delve into Gandhi’s racist activities in South Africa, particularly questioning Gandhi’s motivation for voluntarily serving as a Sergeant-Major in a 1906 British war against the black Zulus.
One major incident which Singh and Watson allege as proof of Gandhi’s racism occurred in 1895 in Durban, South Africa. The authors claim that the local post office had two doors: one for whites and the other shared by upper-caste Indians and black Africans. Gandhi was offended at having to share a door with the black South Africans and successfully petitioned the authorities to allow a third door for Indian use only. Furthermore, the authors speculate that Gandhi’s promotion of segregation was so extreme that he may have contributed to the rise of apartheid in South Africa.
Discussing the conclusions which scholars might reach upon an academic reevaluation of Gandhi’s racial beliefs, OFMI Communications Coordinator Arvin Valmuci remarked, “The evidence is damning that Gandhi’s 21 years in South Africa were spent promoting racial segregation from blacks. Gandhi campaigned for a three-tiered society, with whites at the top of the ladder, Indians just below, and blacks pushed to the bottom rung. It is embarrassing for our first black president to uphold an anti-black racist as his personal hero.”