Pelosi, Jaishankar headline Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary event at Library of Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi receiving a bust of Mahatma Gandhi from India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi receiving a bust of Mahatma Gandhi from India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar at the Library of Congress on October 2. Also seen is Indian Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla. Photo credit: Embassy of India

Library of Congress also hosts a one-day exhibition on life and teachings of Gandhi.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar headlined a commemorative event at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The event, hosted by the Embassy of India in Washington, was one of the many held across the country on October 2 to celebrate Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.

Pelosi, who was the Guest of Honor, said if Mahatma Gandhi was alive, he would have led the movement against climate change. “We are called to fight this fight, which is the existential threat of our time: really jeopardizing the health, security, and future of our children and our grandchildren,” the speaker said.

She pointed out that the US House of Representatives had introduced a bipartisan resolution celebrating the 150th birthday of Gandhi and his legacy.

Jaishankar presented Pelosi a bust of Gandhi. “I will display it with great pride in the Speaker’s office of the capital of the United States so that anyone who visits there will see that respect and admiration that we have (for Gandhi),” the speaker said.

“Your presence here today underlines the impact that the life and message of Mahatma Gandhi has had on your own endeavors from your early youth,” Jaishankar told Pelosi.

Indian Ambassador to the United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla also spoke on the occasion.

Earlier, a one-day exhibition on the life and teachings of Gandhi was held at the Library of Congress.

  • Among the exhibits were a rare letter written in Gandhi’s hand, a copy of the Indian Constitution and other items that influenced Martin Luther King Jr. and the US civil rights movement. Other items included:
  • A poster, titled “What About India?”, designed by Maurice Merlin for the US Work Projects Administration that displays four symbols of India, including Gandhi;
  • A comic book published in 1957, titled “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story,” which had immense significance in the life of King, who was depicted telling his supporters how Gandhi led a campaign for freedom in India years before using the same nonviolent tactics they had used during the Montgomery bus boycott.
  • An article published by Ebony magazine in July 1959, “My Trip to the Land of Gandhi,” illustrates Martin Luther King Jr.’s account of his visit to India in 1959.
  • Transcripts of the murder trial from 1948 to 1949 over Gandhi’s assassination by primary assassin, Nathuram Godse, and his counsel during the trial.

Congressional resolutions:

Both the US House and the Senate have introduced resolutions on Mahatma Gandhi.

“Gandhi’s legacy has had a lasting impact in spreading peace and promoting nonviolent protest as the best and most effective method to remedy unjust social and political conditions across India and the entire world,” read the House resolution, “H.Res.595 – Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.”

Introduced by Indian American Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the resolution was co-sponsored by, among others, Reps George Holding, Brad Sherman, Joe Wilson, Gerry Connolly, Peter King, Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Frank Pallone, Brenda Lawrence, Pete Olson, Pramila Jayapal, TJ Cox, David Price and Ted Yoho.

“Mahatma Gandhi is one of my personal heroes,” said Krishnamoorthi. “Gandhi’s dedication to public service is an inspiration, and even when faced with incredible hardship and injustice, he never wavered in fighting for freedom, dignity, and equality for all. Every day, I am grateful for the profound example he set not just for lawyers and public servants like myself, but for all of humanity. As an Indian Americans serving in Congress, I am proud to play my part in honoring his legacy through the introduction of this bipartisan resolution honoring Mahatma Gandhi’s life and legacy.”

The Senate resolution, introduced by Sen. Bob Menendez, “honors the accomplishments of Mahatma Gandhi and the impact of his philosophy of satyagraha, including its influence on civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and on the civil rights movement in the United States.”

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