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By Ravi R Ponangi

Atlanta, GA: The US House of Representatives passed a legislation “H.R. 5517: Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act.” that would establish an exchange initiative between the US and India to study the work and legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. This bill passed in the House on December 3, 2020 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.

Written by civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis, a Democrat who served as the US representative for Georgia's 5th Congressional District for more than three decades (January 3, 1987 – July 17, 2020) who died early this year, the Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act authorizes the State Department, in cooperation with the Indian government, to establish an annual educational forum for scholars from both countries that focuses on the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Lewis said about King and Gandhi: “The two men were not politicians or lawmakers. They were not presidents or popes. But they were inspired human beings who believed deeply in the power of nonviolent resistance to injustice as a tool for social change. Because of their courage, commitment, and vision, this nation has witnessed a nonviolent revolution under the rule of law, a revolution of values and ideas that have changed America forever. We are all a beneficiary of this powerful legacy. Lewis added, “I don’t where I would be if it had not been for the teaching of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr”. 

Congressman John Lewis Introduced the House Bill (HR 5517) to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, affirms the friendship between the two largest democracies of the world and honors the legacy and contributions of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King. America's legendary civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to promote the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr and sought a budgetary allocation of USD 150 million for the next five years. The bill proposes the establishment of a Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative. The bill also seeks to establish a Gandhi-King global academy, which would be a professional development training initiative on conflict resolution. Noting that Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr were dedicated leaders fighting for social justice and social change, peace, and civil rights, the bill says that the use of non-violent civil disobedience is a shared tactic that has played a key role in defeating social injustice in India, the United States and other parts of the world. Observing that Dr King's effective use of Gandhi's principles was instrumental to the American civil rights movement, the bill says that there is a long history of civil and social rights movements in the United States and in India.

Ravi with John Lewis in multicultural fest organized by Congressman

This bill establishes (1) a professional exchange program between the United States and India with a focus on the legacies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi, (2) a development training initiative based on principles of nonviolence, and (3) a foundation to address development priorities in India.

Specifically, the bill establishes a professional exchange program comprised of both an annual educational forum for scholars from the United States and India, as well as an undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate student exchange for students in the United States and India.

The bill also establishes a professional development training initiative on conflict resolution tools based on the principles of nonviolence. Further, the bill establishes the United States-India Gandhi-King Development Foundation to identify development priorities in India (e.g., pollution and climate change, education, and tuberculosis) and administer competitively awarded grants to nongovernmental entities to address those priorities.


' Dec-21-2020