US Congress to award Gold Medal to Mahatma Gandhi – What is Congressional Gold Medal and Why is it significant?

If the legislation receives the vote, Mahatma Gandhi would become the first Indian to be conferred the Congressional Gold Medal. Read all you need to know.

Created On: Aug 19, 2021 13:12 IST
Mahatma Gandhi, Source: PTI
Mahatma Gandhi, Source: PTI

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney from New York on Friday 13, 2021, reintroduced legislation in the US House of Representatives to posthumously award the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal to Mahatma Gandhi in recognition of his ways and contributions through non-violence and peace.

In every session of the Congress in the US, the legislation for awarding Congressional Gold Medals is introduced. As per the Congressional Research Service (CRS), 52 bills were introduced in the 113th Congress session (2013-2014), 42 bills were introduced in the 114th Congress session (2015-2016), and 55 bills were introduced in the 115th Congress session (2017-2018), and 57 bills were introduced in the 116th Congress session (2019-2020).

If the legislation receives the vote, Mahatma Gandhi would become the first Indian to be conferred the Congressional Gold Medal.

What Congressional Gold Medal?

•Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the US. The award is given by the United States Congress.

•As per the History, Arts, and Archives section of the US House of Representatives, the Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions.

•The practice to confer gold medals to honor individuals from the military began during the American Revolution. Later, the congressional practice was extended to individuals and institutions from all walks of life.

•The Second Continental Congress awarded the first medal in 1776 to General George Washington. Though the military participants in the American Revolution, the Mexican-American War, and the War of 1812 were the first recipients of the medal.

•The American Red Cross was the first organization that was given the medal in 1979.

•The medal has been given to Robert F. Kennedy, George Washington, Nelson Mandela, and the 1980 US summer Olympics team among many others.

•On January 6, 2021, the US Capitol Police and those who protected the US Capitol were given the gold medal.

•All legislations introduced for the Congressional Gold Medal must be co-sponsored by at least two-thirds of the House Members.

•Currently, there is no statutory limit on how many medals can be awarded during a year despite the introduction of legislation on the same previously.

Why did US Congresswoman Maloney reintroduce the legislation?

•Earlier in 2018, US Congresswoman Maloney had introduced the legislation to give the Congressional Gold Medal to Mahatma Gandhi. Four Indian-American lawmakers co-sponsored the Legislation, namely Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Ami Bera.

•In 2019, the bill was introduced in Congress but did not get a vote.

•Maloney in her statement noted, “Mahatma Gandhi’s historic Satyagraha movement of nonviolent resistance inspired a nation and the world.” She further said that Gandhi’s energy motivates us to devote ourselves to the service of others.

•The legislation to give the Congressional Gold Medal to Mahatma Gandhi is Maloney’s expression to encourage all to follow Gandhi’s directive to be the change we wish to see in the world.

•As a member of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Maloney has also been instrumental in leading the US Postal Service (USPS) to create a Diwali stamp.

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