A stone-cutter from Uttar Pradesh dropped his plan to return gifts presented to him by Barack Obama in 2010 after a second meeting with the US president in New Delhi on Tuesday.
In 2010, 45-year-old Ramdas Lodhi, who hails from Karera village in Uttar Pradesh's Jhansi district, was gifted the "Seal of the President" and a pen by Obama to acknowledge his dedication to educating children.
But after Lodhi and his son were barred from running a school for slum children in Delhi's Tughlakhabad area by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), he and his two sons — Narendra and Vishal — decided to return the gifts.
Lodhi was not satisfied by the ASI's assurance that he would be provided an alternative site for the school. Lodhi, currently in Madhya Pradesh to work for the 2016 Ujjain Kumbh Mela, said his meeting with Obama at Delhi's Siri Fort Auditorium had rekindled his hope of opening a school for slum children.
Speaking about the meeting, Lodhi told HT over phone from Delhi: "During the 10-minute meeting at Siri Fort Auditorium, the first family of the US appreciated my efforts."
In 2007, Ramdas' eldest son Narendra, after completing his studies, opened a school for slum children in a tent set up on a footpath in Tughlakhabad. About 11 children joined him.
On November 7, 2010, Obama invited Lodhi and his family and presented them a 25-karat gold "Seal of the President" and a pen for their work in educating poor children. But after Obama left Delhi, the ASI removed the roadside school.