America's legendary civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on 20 December 2019 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.
Introduced to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi, the House Bill (HR 5517) affirms the friendship between the two largest democracies of the world and honours the legacy and contributions of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King.
The Bill also proposes establishing a Gandhi-King Development Foundation, which will be created by the USAID under the Indian laws. It seeks a budgetary allocation of USD 30 million every year for the next five years to the USAID for this foundation.
The foundation would have a governing council convened by governments of the United States and India and would oversee grants to NGOs in the areas of health, pollution and climate change, education and women empowerment.
The bill is co-sponsored by six Democratic lawmakers, is also supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Three of the sponsors of the bill are Indian Americans: Congresswoman Dr Ami Bera, Congressman Ro Khanna and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. The other three Congressmen are Brenda Lawrence, Brad Sherman and James McGovern.
The bill proposes the establishment of a Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative with an allocation of USD 2 million for the next five years till 2025. It will comprise an annual educational forum for scholars from India and the US held alternately in the two countries.
Sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for necessary action, the bill christened "Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act'" says the people of the United States and India have a long history of friendship and the world will benefit from a stronger United States-India partnership.
(This article has been published in an arrangement with PTI)
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