Lawmaker Seeks Congressional Medal for Mahatma Gandhi

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney joins local politicians, activists and others for a protest to denounce President Donald Trump's selection of Brett Kavanaugh as his nomination to the Supreme Court on July 10, in New York City. (Getty Images)

Rep. Carolyn Maloney ((D-N.Y.) is introducing a resolution to posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award, to Mahatma Gandhi for his work in “inspiring peacable movements for civil rights around the world.”

The resolution would make Gandhi the medal’s first Indian recipient, joining Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and George Washington. Maloney had committed to introducing the resolution during the India Day parade in Manhattan on Aug. 19 saying that Gandhi’s “historic Satyagraha (Sanskrit for ‘soul-force’) movement of nonviolent resistance inspired a nation and the world. His example energizes us to devote ourselves to the service of others. His legacy inspired civil rights movements around the globe, from Martin Luther King Jr.’s movement for racial equality to Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid. As a public servant, I am inspired everyday by his courage and example. Let us all follow Gandhi’s directive to ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’ "

Congressional sources acknowledged that introducing a resolution is just the first step. Its passage, sources said, would first require garnering lawmaker support and a hearing. Once approved by the House Financial Services and House Administration Committees, where it has been introduced, the resolution would be referred to the full House for a vote. Sources told India Abroad that Maloney’s resolution was referred to the committees where at least 300 lawmakers “would help to get it to first base and get the chairs of the committees to schedule a hearing.” The sources said that those likely to testify include experts on Gandhi and civil rights activists such as Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who had marched with King. Sources said such resolutions can take years to be signed into law but often, despite their merits, they fall by the wayside.

Maloney is the same lawmaker who in 2016, led the effort for the U.S. Postal Service’s commemorative Diwali stamp.

Elsewhere, the Association of Indians in America — South Jersey Chapter (AIA-SJ) was preparing to celebrate its 15th annual Mahatma Gandhi Award program for middle and high school students on Oct. 7 at Princeton University.

Anwar Feroze Siddiqui, president of AIA-SJ, said the program, open to middle and high school students in the state’s 450 school districts, and submit an essay, poetry or work of art based a Gandhi quotation chosen by AIA-SJ awards committee. Three prizes, including a cash prizes, are given in each of those categories.

He said the more than 2,000 entries in this year’s program were based on his quote: “The future depends on what we do in the present.”

Siddiqui said the program was initiated in 2004 by AIA–SJ, “to inform and promote Mahatma Gandhi's message of peace and non–violence among New Jersey school children. This program’s objectives are also true to AIA’s mission to preserve our Indian heritage while keeping our American commitment.”

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