indica News Bureau-
A new bill has been introduced in the US House of Representatives to strengthen bilateral relations, affirm friendship with India by enhancing shared values in education, conflict resolution, and development as well as to honor the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The bill (HR 5517) was introduced in the house by Democratic lawmaker from Georgia John Lewis on December 19.
The bill comes at a time when external affairs minister S. Jaishankar cancelled a meeting with HFCA over the over the inclusion of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who has spoken out against the Modi government’s recent policies in India.
Lewis introduced the bill that sought to “affirm” the friendship between the two countries and set up a bilateral partnership for collaboration to advance “development and shared values, and for other purposes”, ANI reported.
Currently, the bill (HR 5517) has six co-sponsors — all of them being Democrats. Three of them are Indian-American lawmakers, including Congresswoman from Washington state — Pramila Jayapal.
The news agency further reported that though the details of the bill have not been uploaded on the official website, sources said that the bill has been introduced by Lewis, a close loyalist of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The bill proposes three initiatives all of them named jointly after Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a follower of Mahatma Gandhi recalled her interest in the leader of India’s freedom struggle during her school days during a function to commemorate the occasion. “I have carried India in my heart through Gandhi from the time I was a little girl. When I was a little girl, at a Catholic school, the nun said to me– Who do you think you are? Mahatma Gandhi! I had no idea who Mahatma Gandhi was. I went to the library. In the 1950s, they had books on Mahatma Gandhi for children that early!”, she said.
Provisions of the bill
The bill includes the Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative with an allocation of USD 2million for each fiscal year from 2020 through 2025, for scholars from India and the US held alternately in the two countries that would focus on the study of the works and philosophies of Gandhi and King and visits to historical sites, reported ANI.
The bill proposes the setting up of Gandhi-King Global Academy, which would be a professional development training initiative on conflict resolution, with an allocation of USD 2million for each fiscal year from 2020 through 2025, implemented through the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
It also includes the Gandhi-King Development Foundation, which would be established by the USAID under the laws of India. The funding authorized to USAID for the foundation is USD 30 million every year from 2020 through 2025. This foundation would have a governing council convened by the governments of the US and India TAGS Mahatma Gandhi bill US.
The bill would oversee grants to NGOs in the areas of health, pollution and climate change, education, and women empowerment. The bill would be a major landmark initiated by the US Congress to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and will supplement the Senate and House resolutions which were introduced on October 2 by Senators Bob Menendez (Democrat-New Jersey) and Ted Cruz (Republican-Texas) and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (Democrat-Illinois), respectively.
[Photo courtesy: Bob Fitch photography archive, © Stanford University Libraries]