Obama's leap of faith fired
by Mahatma Gandhi
Nov 5 (IANS) From a virtual unknown outside his home state
of Illinois to the most powerful man on earth, Barack Obama
has come a long way in less than two years with his historic
election as the first African American US president.
even before the youthful Democratic senator vanquished Republican
John McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and a national hero, Obama
signalled momentous change in America's political scene as
the first black person to become the presidential candidate
of a major US party.
himself described as a "defining moment for our nation"
his clinching the Democratic nomination after a long and gruelling
battle against former first lady Hillary Clinton - a contest
that gripped the US from January to June 2008.
47, who has been able to attract crowds of 100,000 people
or more to his rallies and generate a buzz seldom seen in
US politics with his message of change, is an ardent admirer
of Mahatma Gandhi, the pioneer of Satyagraha - resistance
to tyranny through mass civil disobedience.
my life, I have always looked to Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration,
because he embodied the kind of transformational change that
can be made when ordinary people come together to do extraordinary
things," he wrote in an article.
is why his portrait hangs in my Senate office; to remind me
that real results will not just come from Washington, they
will come from the people."
who has promised to renew American diplomacy to meet the challenges
of the 21st century by rebuilding alliances and expressed
a willingness "to meet with all nations, friend and foe,
to advance American interests", has said that India will
be "top priority" in his presidency.
Obama said in a recent interview with IANS, he believes that
"India is a natural strategic partner for America in
the 21st century and that the US should be working with India
on a range of critical issues from preventing terrorism to
promoting peace and stability in Asia."
former aide told IANS that Obama has a soft corner for the
Indian American community and learnt tales of the Indian epic
Mahabharat from his mother who has visited South Asia. He
is also believed to like Indian food.
politics in 1996 with an unopposed election to the Illinois
state Senate, Obama burst on to the national stage in 2004
with an electrifying keynote address to the party forum in
Boston calling for an end of America's divisive politics.
not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is
the United States of America. There's not a black America
and a white America and Latino America and Asian America;
there is the United States of America," he told the delegates
was no looking back for the son of a black father from Kenya
and a white mother from Kansas after that. In the afterglow
of the Boston convention he made it to the US Senate with
a wide margin just four years after losing badly in his first
attempt to enter Congress.
Obama had set his sights higher. Just three years in the Senate,
he formed a presidential exploratory committee in January
2007 and one month later launched his presidential campaign
on the steps of the old Statehouse in Springfield, Illinois.
him was an array of seasoned contenders, including his vice-presidential
pick Joe Biden, 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate
John Edwards, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and of course
the formidable Hillary Clinton, viewed as the party's "inevitable"
eroding the former first lady's large lead in opinion polls,
Obama cracked Clinton's aura of inevitability with a victory
in the Iowa caucuses in January and went on to win the Democratic
was only two when his father left Hawaii to pursue a degree
at Harvard University and later returned to Kenya alone, where
he worked as a government economist, and the couple divorced.
Obama saw him only once again when he was 10.
Obama was six, his mother married an Indonesian man and the
family moved to Jakarta. But four years later he moved back
to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents. His grandmother
his 1995 autobiography, "Dreams from My Father",
Obama describes a troubled adolescence in which he struggled
with his biracial identity. He acknowledges that he used marijuana
high school, Obama attended college in Los Angeles, California,
and New York before working as a community organiser on the
south side of Chicago, Illinois, from 1985 to 1988.
attended Harvard Law School, where he became the first black
president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review, and returned
to Chicago after graduating in 1991 to work as a civil rights
lawyer and teach constitutional law.
he met his future wife, Michelle Robinson, a Chicago lawyer.
They have two young daughters, Malia and Sasha.