Washington: The Mayor of the US city of Birmingham will travel to India in October to build cultural and economic ties with Indian cities.
Ahead of his visit to India, Mayor William Bell, a well-known African-American leader, has invoked the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, saying they are still relevant in the present world and need to be followed by the people.
He was here recently to attend the 50th anniversary celebrations of the historic `March on Washington` and said that he is grateful to be a witness to the first African- American President presiding over the commemoration ceremony of the historic event that took place in 1963.
"Things have changed for the better. 50 years ago, I would not have dreamed of becoming a Mayor of the city of Birmingham in Alabama. But today that dream has been realised," Bell said in an interview.
"This does not, however, mean that all of the problems of surrounding race in America have been satisfied. We must continue to work so as to bring equity standards to everyone, regardless of their race, religion, creed or colour," he said.
Bell said he is planning to travel to India next month.
"Right now, we are planning to travel to India and other parts of the Middle East sometime in early to mid-October to build cultural relationship between Birmingham and cities in India and other Middle Eastern cities. We are also looking at economic opportunities and relationship with countries and developments within the region," he said in response to a question.
While the trip is still being finalised, Bell said, he is planning to travel to Mumbai and New Delhi.
He also said that Martin Luther King was highly impressed by Mahatma Gandhi.
King has written extensively about his views on Mahatma Gandhi`s approach of non-violence to social change and in his employment of Gandhi`s message, he gained a better understanding of what one must do to overcome negative challenges in the society without resorting to violence and anger, he said.
"The March on Washington commemoration revitalised that the message that he practiced... The new generation may also employ teachings of Gandhi and Dr King," Bell said.
Bell also appreciated the contribution of the Indian American community.
"Birmingham has a string Indian American population of which I have a good relationship with. From what I have seen in my relationship with Indian American community in Birmingham, it has a positive impact on the culture of the city," he said, adding that the Indian American community is also a string economic driver in Birmingham area.
"The more we share our cultures, what we find out that we have many things in common. The first impression is that we are totally different, but the more you understand individual cultures, we find out we have more in common than those divide us," he said.
"They play critical roles in the areas of business, education and medical profession. And I think that strengthens us as a community when we have such strong cultural ties with the Indian community," Bell said.