An ardent fan of Mahatma Gandhi, US President Barack Obama on Friday joined Indians in praising the apostle of peace on his 140th birth anniversary, saying America has its "roots in the India of Mahatma Gandhi."
In a special message on Gandhi birth anniversary, which is being observed as the International Day of Non-violence, Obama said: "We must renew our commitment to live his ideals and to celebrate the dignity of all human beings."
"Gandhi's teachings and ideals, shared with Martin Luther King Jr. on his 1959 pilgrimage to India, transformed American society through our civil rights movement," Obama said.
Noting that Americans owe enormous gratitude to Gandhi, Obama said the "America of today has its roots in the India of Mahatma Gandhi and the nonviolent social action movement for Indian independence which he led".
The President said on behalf of the American people he wants to express appreciation for the life and lessons of Mahatma Gandhi on the the anniversary of his birth.
"This is an important moment to reflect on his message of non-violence, which continues to inspire people and political movements across the globe," he said.
"We join the people of India in celebrating this great soul who lived a life dedicated to the cause of advancing justice, showing tolerance to all, and creating change through non-violent resistance," Obama said.
The UN General Assembly had in 2007 decided to observe October 2 as the International Day of Non-violence.
Obama had last month said if given a chance he would love to have dinner with Mahatma Gandhi, who is his real hero.
In an interaction with students, Obama asked them to take responsibility and to learn from their failures so that they succeed in the end.
"Hi. I'm Lilly. And if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be," Obama was asked by one of the students. "Dinner with anyone dead or alive' Well, you know, dead or alive, that's a pretty big list," Obama responded amidst laughter.
The next moment he was serious. "You know, I think that it might be Gandhi, who is a real hero of mine," he had said. PTI