Rajghat becomes de riguer for VIPs | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Rajghat becomes de riguer for VIPs

delhi Updated: Nov 08, 2010 00:34 IST
Nivedita Khandekar
Nivedita Khandekar
Hindustan Times
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It is a simple square platform in black marble with an eternal flame burning on the eastern side with low stonewall on all sides. There are hanging creepers on the inside and lush green tapering lawn dotted with trees outside the memorial.

US President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit this sprawling place, Raj Ghat, on Monday morning. The memorial in the capital is the most famous placed associated with Mahatma Gandhi who was cremated here in 1948.

The President is also likely to be taken to read the 'Seven Social Sins' inscribed in black on red sand stonewall nearby. When he visits Raj Ghat on Monday morning, Obama would be the third US President after Bill Clinton (in 2000) and George Bush Jr (in 2006) to visit the memorial in a decade.

In the last few years, the foreign dignitaries who have visited the memorial are former Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon, France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Premier Gordon Brown and China's Hu Jintao.

Of late, it has become almost customary for visiting dignitaries and heads of states to pay their respects at this memorial on the western bank of river Yamuna. This is apart from the average 10,000 tourists, including around 1,500 foreigners, visiting the memorial everyday.

Said Anupam Mishra, renowned Gandhian and editor of 'Gandhi Marg', "Gandhiji emphasised on reconstruction and self-reliance. He spent less time in Delhi and travelled more in rural India. As per the Indian tradition, one can feel the vibes of the person at the place he was cremated. (So), it becomes an important destination."

However, Mishra is sceptical about one thing. "There is a lot of difference between visiting the place, saying something about Gandhiji and actually practising his ideals. Obama is going to visit the last resting place of the apostle of peace with a nuclear button in his pocket, already full with commercial deals signed at Mumbai."