NEW DELHI: Martin Luther King III, the son of Martin Luther King Jr, is on a state visit to India to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his parents’ visit in 1959.
Even though the trip is in many ways a personal journey for him, he also believes that it is a very special time in history because America’s first African-American president Barack Obama has just assumed office. “This trip is very significant for me because I will be revisiting all the places that my parents visited during their historic trip here to study the non-violent movement of Gandhi and also because president Obama is reaching out to people around the world at this time. I am very excited about this opportunity to understand first hand what is happening in India,” Mr King told ET in an exclusive interview. He felt that India would not have to wait very long before the new American president comes on a visit here.
Mr King believes that the philosophy of non-violence, of which Gandhiji and his father were champions, could well mark the new foreign policy posture of America going forward. “The last eight years have been disruptive and destructive for America and many other countries. But America’s first Black president wants to take us beyond that, which is very promising for America and the rest of the world,” he felt.
He also believes that the US immigration policy under president Obama will embrace a far greater degree of multiculturalism. “The new immigration policy that this government will adopt is likely to be more sensitive towards other cultures and people. The new government is more open to the idea of different cultures co-existing,” said Mr King who is accompanied by a top delegation which includes Indian American hoteliers Mukesh ‘Mike’ Patel and Digvijay Gaekwad and legendary jazz musician Herbie Hancock.
And though he is himself a human rights advocate and community activist and is not directly connected to business and economics, he believes that president Obama’s economic challenge in the coming 12-24 months will give him the platform to fix other big issues as well. ”The economic crisis will have to be fixed immediately and that will give the government an opportunity to address other critical issues too such as healthcare, education and the very important issue of poverty.
In my own interaction with the president, I have conveyed to him the objective of my international organisation, Realising the Dream, to reduce poverty by at least 15-25% in America and decrease the huge gap between the rich and poor in the next five years,” Mr King said.
16 Feb 2009, Ishani Duttagupta, ET Bureau