Gandhi-King Initiative Passes U.S. House Committee

A bill authored by American civil rights leader and lawmaker John Lewis, which seeks to establish an exchange program between India and the U.S. to study the work and legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., passed an important Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday , days after Mr Lewis’s death.

The bill, co-sponsored by Indian American Congressman from California, Ami Bera, will establish annual scholar and student exchange programs for Indians and Americans to study the leaders’ legacies and visit historic sites in India and the U.S., relevant to the India’s freedom struggle and the U.S.’s civil rights movement.

The bill also seeks to establish the Gandhi-King Global Academy, a conflict resolution initiative based on the principles of nonviolence. It proposes the establishment of the United States-India Gandhi-King Development Foundation set up by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the government of India, organized under Indian law. The Foundation, which has a proposed budget authorized of up to $ 30 million per year for five years through 2025 is tasked with administering grants to NGOs that work in health, pollution and climate change, education and empowerment of women.

“Just like Gandhi and Dr. King, Congressman Lewis shaped the world through his actions of nonviolence, and his life story will reverberate throughout history. The Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act is a fitting tribute to his incredible legacy,” Mr Bera , who heads the influential Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation, said.

“As the world’s oldest and largest democracies, the United States and India have long traditions of upholding these shared values championed by figures like Gandhi, King, and Congressman Lewis. But they are increasingly under threat in both countries. This legislation will help ensure those values endure and remind us that by holding true to them, we embody and live up to the best of our two nations,” he said.

Other co-sponsors included Indian American Democratic lawmakers Pramila Jayapal (Washington state), Ro Khanna(California) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (Illinois).

The bill was inspired by Mr Lewis’s visit to India in 2009 to commemorate the 50 anniversary of Dr King’s visit to India, as per an email from Mr Bera’s office. Section 2 of the Bill quotes Dr King after his monthlong visit to India in 1959.

“I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity,” Dr King had said.

The bill will need to be voted through the House and Senate before it becomes law.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 6:49:50 PM |

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