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Bill to ‘affirm’ India-US friendship introduced in House of Representatives

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Washington D.C. [USA], Dec 22 (ANI): A new bill has been introduced in the US House of Representatives, seeking to strengthen the partnership between India and the United States by enhancing shared values in education, conflict resolution, and development.On December 19, Democratic lawmaker from Georgia John 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”.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, who recently moved a resolution calling for ending of restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, in a move that has not gone down well for India. Subsequently, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said he had “no interest” in meeting her.Meanwhile, the details of the bill have not been uploaded as yet on the official website. But ANI has learnt from sources 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.It includes the Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative with an allocation of USD 2 million for each fiscal year from 2020 through 2025. This would comprise an annual educational forum 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.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 2 million 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 authorised 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 and 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.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi and 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!” Pelosi had said in the historic Library of Congress on October 2.At the end of the event, Jaishankar and Indian Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla together presented Pelosi with a bust of Mahatma Gandhi, to which the House Speaker said that it will sit in her chamber. (ANI)

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