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Recognizing The 140th Anniversary Of The Birth Of Mahatma Gandhi

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in support of House Resolution 603, a measure recognizing the 140th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. At the outset, let me express my deep appreciation to our distinguished chairman, Mr. HOWARD BERMAN, my good friend from California, for his strong support of this bipartisan resolution and to the co-Chairs of the India Caucus for their cosponsorship.

Mr. Speaker, I introduced this resolution to honor the extraordinary life and the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. The broad outlines in the life story of this remarkable human being are, of course, generally well known: his struggles as a young lawyer in South Africa for the civil liberties and the political rights of Indian immigrants; his return to India and his leadership in the long and complex struggle for home rule and then independence; and his campaign against violent communalism and terror, a struggle that ultimately cost him his life.

In the course of this journey, Gandhi believed and developed the distinctive philosophy of nonviolence. This philosophy has influenced so many great figures of world history from Nehru to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., to Aung San Suu Kyi.

Today, Cuban dissidents and political prisoners such as Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet turn to Gandhi's tenets of peaceful civil disobedience to challenge the Cuban tyranny and demand the freedom of the Cuban people.

In a world too often worked marked by violence and vast inequity, Gandhi said, ``be the change you want to see in the world.''

``Be the change you want to see in the world.'' This reminds us all of the need for personal integrity in the struggle for peaceful change and the fullest respect for human dignity.

Mr. Speaker, as we have all come to understand, the life and the teachings of this deeply philosophical and spiritual man have touched millions of people around the world. Indeed, in world affairs, the person who arguably affected change more than anyone else, more effectively than anybody else, was Mahatma Gandhi.

Mr. Speaker, ultimately, what was it about this complex and enigmatic man that made him one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century? 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. It was this confrontation out of a real humanity which marks his true stature and which makes his struggles and glimpses of enduring significance to us all. 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.

Mr. Speaker, I strongly urge support for this resolution, and with that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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