The House of Representatives on Dec. 3, 2020, passed the Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act.
The bill, written by the late Congressman John Lewis, Democrat from Georgia, and cosponsored by Congressman Ami Bera, D-California.
It would establish an exchange initiative between the United States and India to study the work and legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
“Just like Gandhi and Dr. King, Congressman Lewis shaped the world through his actions of nonviolence and his commitment to human rights, equality, and justice for all. The Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act is a fitting tribute to the incredible life and legacy of John Lewis,” Rep Bera said in a statement. Rep. Bera is the longest serving Indian-American Member of Congress in history.
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, Bera said. “But they are increasingly under threat in both countries,” he added.
In 2009, Congressman John Lewis led a congressional delegation visit to India to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s pilgrimage to India. Inspired by that visit, he created the Gandhi-King Exchange Act to seek to apply the philosophies of Gandhi and Dr. King, Jr. to conflict resolution efforts and current policy challenges.
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 Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr;
- Develop a professional development training initiative on conflict resolution based on the principles of nonviolence; and
- Establish a foundation to address social, environmental, and health priorities in India.
The Gandhi – King Exchange Act will need to be cleared by the U.S. Senate and get the President’s signature before becoming official.