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Gandhi, a man of all times and places: US Congress

Last updated on: October 15, 2009 23:33 IST

A resolution recognising the contribution made by Mahatma Gandhi through non-violence to promote world peace was unanimously passed on Thursday by the US House of Representatives, with American lawmakers describing him as a "man of all times and places".

"While much has been said about the great works of Gandhi's life, it is important that we never forget that without Gandhi, the fates of what is now the world's largest democracy, India, and the oldest democracy, the United States, would likely be far different," said Congressman Eni Faleomavaega in his speech on the floor of the House.

The resolution on Gandhi to recognise his 140th birth anniversary was introduced by Faleomavaega and several of his colleagues in June.

"Though his life was cut tragically short by an assassin's bullet, his legacy is seen in the over 1.5 billion people who inhabit the free and independent countries of the Indian subcontinent and by our own embrace of the principles of nonviolent political action, unity and religious tolerance within the United States," he said.

Mahatma Gandhi served as an inspiration for a movement that ended the rule of the British Raj and created a free and independent Indian state, he said.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Gandhi believed and developed the distinctive philosophy of non-violence. This philosophy has influenced so many great figures of world history from Nehru to the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior to Aung San Suu Kyi, she said.

"I might also add, Mr Speaker, it ended the rule of the British Empire. But of equal significance, especially to us in this Chamber today, Mahatma Gandhi inspired the American civil rights movement that hailed one of America's most remarkable social and political transformations," said Faleomavaega.

Mahatma Gandhi developed the term "Satyagraha", meaning vindication of truth not by inflicting suffering on others but through non-violent and patient self-suffering, he noted. "He counselled humankind to hate the sin and love the sinner and urged people everywhere to be the change you want to see in the world. The late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr became the agent, an instrument, of that change here in the United States," Faleomavaega said.

Republican Ros-Lehtinen said: "As a recent biographer noted, fundamentally, Gandhi was a man of vision and action, who asked many of the most profound questions that face humankind as it struggles to live in a community.

"As a man of his time who asked the deepest questions, even though he may not have had all of the answers, he became a man for all times and all places."

Remembering Gandhi as one of the most revered people of the last century, Congressman Ed Royce, said, "Preaching non-violence, Gandhi dedicated his life's work to helping others. As a leader in the Indian National Congress, Gandhi led campaigns to ease poverty. He led the campaigns to expand women's rights.

"And of course, he is remembered for his efforts to build religious amity. Above all else, however, Gandhi worked tirelessly to free his nation and helped direct India into a new era of democracy."

Having traveled to India during the second round of voting during recent election, the largest democratic display the world has ever seen, Royce said: "I would have to say that Gandhi himself would indeed have been proud of how far his nation has come... We are here today to help keep the spirit of Gandhi alive and to remember his remarkable achievements."

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