A Bill authored by American civil rights leader and lawmaker John Lewis, which seeks to establish an exchange programme 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.
What is the bill?
- The Bill, co-sponsored by Indian American Congressman from California Ami Bera will establish annual scholar and student exchange programmes 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 non-violence.
- It proposes the establishment of the U.S.-India GandhiKing Development Foundation set up by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of India, organised under Indian law.
- The Foundation, which has a proposed budget authorised 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.
About Martin Luther King Jr.
- Martin Luther King Jr. is the greatest American figure in the 20th century. A Baptist priest of vast intellectual depth and complexity, King was also a systematic political thinker. His thoughts on non-violence and his struggle against segregation and inequalities in the US influenced several generations of non-violent thinkers and activists.
- Many around the world continue to consider King as the American Gandhi who through his method of non-violent direct action succeeded in arousing the American nation to the evils of racism and poverty and preparing the enactment of historic civil rights legislation.
- He became Gandhi’s greatest disciple, by embracing Gandhi’s Satyagraha as a method of struggle for the emancipation of blacks in America.
- He recognised Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy of non-violence for the effectiveness of his own campaigns in areas such as integration and voting rights.
- King’s insistence on God’s justice is the important connection between striving for Christian love and establishing the Gandhian strategy of non-violence.
King proclaimed: “All men are interdependent. Every nation is an heir of a vast treasure of ideas and labour to which both the living and the dead of all nations have contributed.”