Rep. John Lewis Advances Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Program
To commemorate the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi on October 2, 2011, and in honor of the upcoming dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) introduced a bill recently that authorizes the Secretary of State to initiate a Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Program that will foster the ideals of non-violence and peaceful social transformation.
Gandhi first developed tactics of non-violent resistance in public campaigns to end oppression in South Africa. Once he returned home to India, his work ultimately led to the end of British colonial rule in India. The Mahatma served as a source of inspiration and tactical guidance for King in the American Civil Rights Movement. Today, the accomplishments King and Gandhi have served as a template for non-violent transformation of tyrannical rule in many contemporary nations such as Serbia, Ireland, China, and Egypt to name a few. According to the Global Peace Index, ending violence in the world community would save $7.2 trillion and create $4.8 trillion in new business around the world. The Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange program will:
· Sponsor educational, scholarly and professional exchanges through an annual public diplomacy forum for scholars from the U.S. and India with a focus on the legacies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi;
· Hold these forums alternately in India and the U.S. and will focus on the study of King and Gandhi’s philosophies applied to current human problems such as poverty, conflict resolution, human rights, civil rights, peace, non-violence, and democracy;
· Will implement a training initiative for government employees to develop solutions to international conflict based on the principles of non-violence in consultation with the White House, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and officers of the Department of State.
· Produce curricula for teaching confliction resolution to government employees;
· Provide an exchange student program for graduate and undergraduate students to study the history and legacy of Gandhi and King, visit historic sites in both countries relevant to the American Civil Rights Movement and the Indian independence movement;
· And develop research on the importance of peace, nonviolence, and reconciliation in current conflict regions.
The bill, H.R. 3056, has been referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee.