Completing the account of the visit of Otis Moss

By Rajmohan Gandhi - Posted on 12 January 2010

Mani Shankar Aiyar, prominent political personality and former cabinet minister, wanted to receive the Mosses in his new office in the Parliament Library. We arrived in time but Mani was caught up in traffic so we were able to welcome him in his office. Much security and also much confusion at the entrance before we obtained our passes to get inside. Mani spoke about America, the Blacks, and the history of untouchability in India during the hour we had.

Timothy Roemer, the US ambassador, was most warm as he received the 3 of us for 45 minutes, arranged for photos to be taken, and at the end asked to be kept in touch. The Mosses recalled their good friends in Ohio, the former politician who was ambassador in India, Richard Celeste and his wife.

Dr Karan Singh, the ICCR president, gave a formal luncheon for the Mosses in a special dining room at the Lalit Hotel. Mani Shankar, the ICCR director general and deputy director general, two or three associates of Karan Singh in inter-faith work, Sushobha Barve, the CDR executive secretary, film-maker Suhas Borker and a few others joined.

At 3.30 Dr Moss addressed a fine gathering at the Institute of Social Sciences on the Gandhi-King Impact on Human and Civil Rights. It was a powerful address and everyone was stirred. Love without justice was sentimentality, and justice without love was brutality, he said. The couple were presented with beautiful shawls from Kashmir. In the audience and over the ensuing discussion and dinner, the Mosses met political analyst Neerja Chowdhury, film-maker Suhas Borker, the Swedish ambassador, the German counselor, a couple on the Taiwanese mission and several others. It was pretty cold in the space where dinner was served, and I took the Mosses back to their hotel (a 60-minute ride) for a 90-minute pause there before the ride to the airport.

At the airport, an ICCR man (Brij Guhare) and I saw the Mosses past the checking in and immigration to the Business Class Lounge. We left them there at 1 AM for their 3 AM flight.

They said they would never be able to forget their visit and their experience in India. The many who met and heard them in India gained a deeper understanding of America, of the African-American community there, and of the moral and spiritual foundations of any effort for a more just world.

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In this thought-provoking book, award-winning biographer and historian Rajmohan Gandhi sets the record straight on the founding fathers as well as their great opponent, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Along the way, he answers questions of perennial interest. More