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US passes bill to promote Gandhi, King legacies

PTI, Washington: A key US Congressional committee on Wednesday passed a bill, written by civil rights icon John Lewis, to promote the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Cosponsored by Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, the Gandhi-King Exchange Act was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The bill 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.

The Act authorises the US 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 Karamchand Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

It also seeks to develop a professional development training initiative on conflict resolution based on the principles of non-violence; and establish a foundation to address social, environmental, and health priorities in India.

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 his visit, Congressman Lewis 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 is a fitting tribute to his incredible legacy," said Bera, who is the longest serving Indian-American member of the Congress in history.

"As the world's oldest and largest democracies, the US 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," he said.

"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," Bera said.

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