The First Gandhi King Legacy Roundtable Summit Launched

The First Gandhi King Legacy Roundtable Summit was organized by the U.S. Congressional Multi Advisory Task Force (MEATF) of Congressman Danny K Davis in cooperation with Metropolitan Asian Family Services (MAFS) on Friday February 26 from 12 noon to 4pm.

Vasavi Chakka, Commissioner, Naperville Sister Cities Commission moderating the Summit stated that this Summit is being held to Commemorate the Black History Month and Mahatma Gandhi’s73 Death Anniversary with the theme being, “Challenges of the Behavioral Health Crisis during the COVID pandemic.

Dr. Mrs Santosh Kumar, Founder Executive Director of Metropolitan Asian Family Services welcoming the Roundtable Summit stakeholders said that this is the first time a Gandhi King Roundtable Summit is being held in Illinois State and stressed that the Summit is addressing the important issue of Behavioral Health and how to improve and increase the Behavioral Health Resources in our communities which is the most effective way to continue the legacy of the legends Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Vijay Prabhakar, Founder Chairman of Congressman Danny K Davis’s Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force in his opening remarks credited India’s Consul General at Chicago Amit Kumar for conceiving this historic Summit to honor Gandhi King’s Legacy. Dr. Vijay Prabhakar, a public health expert said that America will face the gravest challenge from the behavioral health crisis in 2030 and hence all concerned citizens, elected officials, behavioral healthcare providers and other stakeholders should form a broad framework to work towards seriously addressing the challenges of behavioral healthcare.

Ambassador Amit Kumar, Consul General of India at Chicago inaugurating the Summit said the greatest testament of the Gandhi King Legacy is the current strong ties between India, the largest democracy and USA, the Oldest democracy, at the highest levels and recalled the role of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the COVID pandemic. The supply of Indian made vaccines to several countries recently is yet another glowing example of India’s Prime Minister Modi’s global leadership, he added. CG Kumar thanked the organizers for hosting the Roundtable Summit on the Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King and to commemorate the Black History Month.

He recalled that their life, message and philosophy continue to inspire us all, that life of Mahatma Gandhi was very closely followed in the US, referred to the historic visit of Dr. King to India in 1959 and efforts to spread the legacy of these two leaders. He referred to the Gandhi-King Scholarly Initiative Act passed by the US Congress in 2020 that was initiated by late Congressman John Lewis, another iconic figure in the civil rights movement. He thanked Representative Danny K Davis, for his strong support to India-US ties, and recalled his initiative to establish the Multi-Ethnic Advisory Task Force a decade ago to empower different ethnic communities in his district. He also acknowledged the exemplary contribution of the Indian American community in helping local communities in several ways during the Covid-19 period.”

  1. S. Congressman Danny K. Davis’s Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force saluted India’s Consul General Amit Kumar for his vision in conceiving this Gandhi King Legacy Summit as a tribute to two great legends. The month of February is officially observed as BLACK HISTORY MONTH throughout United States and Gandhi’s 73rd Death Anniversary (Punyatihi /Shaheed Diwas) was on January 30. U.S. Congressman’s Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force presented Consul General Amit Kumar with an Official plaque for his initiative in conceiving this historic epoch making event. A brief video of Martin Luther King Jr speaking on Mahatma Gandhi was screened followed by Dr. Sriram Sonty, eminent Ophthalmologist, the Vice President of The Gandhi Memorial, Chicago eloquently describing the GANDH-KING Connection and its relevance to the present day.

Consul General of India Amit Kumar along with Consul General of Japan Kenichi Okada at Chicago jointly presented the Gandhi King Legacy Award of Excellence 2021 to Dr. Steve Munsey, Founder, Family Christian Center, Munster, Indiana for his extraordinary leadership to the underserved communities of Northwest Indiana and the City of Chicago during COVID pandemic from June 2020 to present. Dr. Steve Munsey, Author, Pastor, Creative Director, and Producer giving the Dr. Gandhi King Legacy Oration 2021 extolled all the leaders to emulate the virtues of these two great legends by their actions in their day to day lives and implement life transforming programs with purposeful goals. Dr. Munsey spoke about the need to make Behavioral Health Care affordable and accessible to all especially the vulnerable sections of the community now.

Marvin Lindsey, CEO, Community Behavioral HealthCare Association of Illinois delivered the Key Note Address. U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (8th-IL) in his remarks said, “I don’t need to tell you that this is Black History Month and this month, we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King And I don’t need to tell you that Dr. King was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi of India. Now today, we are coming together to celebrate this joint legacy , one of nonviolence, one of justice, one of making sure everyone has a seat at the table, and that no one is on the menu . That is what today’s roundtable is all about.

  1. S. Congressman Danny K Davis in his presidential address at the Summit commended India’s Consul General at Chicago Amit Kumar for initiating this Gandhi King Legacy Roundtable Summit which is most apt and very timely for our Communities to heal. “Martin Luther King Jr. was a disciple of Gandhi. A Lot of Gandhi’s teachings was put into practice by Martin Luther king Jr. . So it is important that our elected leaders and Community leaders adapt and enrich the same partnership between African and Indian communities here in Chicago and beyond. I applaud Dr. Vijay Prabhakar, the creative public health expert and founder of my Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force (MEATF ) along with Mrs Santosh Kumar, Executive Director of Metropolitan Asian Family Services of Illinois(MAFS) for recognizing the importance of the Gandhi King relationship and for continuing their legacy in this dynamic environment. We need to strengthen this partnership among our ethnic communities. I am waiting to hear about the outcomes of this Summit and will work towards supporting the Summit’s recommendations.”, added Congressman Danny Davis.

Dr. David Albert, Director, Division of Mental Health, Illinois Department of Human Services gave the Call to Action. Dr. David Albert said that the State Of Illinois runs Seven Psychiatric hospitals and funds 207 Community Mental Health Centers in the State of Illinois. Dr. Albert said that during the COVID pandemic, the need for special attention to the Senior Population and the Youth /Students population is engaging the department.

The Gandhi King Legacy Roundtable Summit 2021 unanimously resolved to establish a Citizens Action Alliance For Behavioral Healthcare (CAABH) to nurture, enrich and empower behavioral healthcare providers while spreading awareness of behavioral healthcare resources in our communities. The Summit further resolved to launch a monthly publication on behavioral healthcare resources that features op-ed column by elected representatives, showcase community behavioral health programs, informative clinical updates and latest community behavioral health resource tools. The Summit called for monthly town hall meets of elected representatives, community leaders, behavioral healthcare providers and concerned citizens for behavioral healthcare as a constructive follow up.

Dr Vijay Prabhakar , Founder Chairman of U.S. Congressman Danny K Davis’s Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force named Ms. Twin Green, CEO of THE LINK & OPTION Center, South Holland, IL as C.A.A. B.H.’s Ambassador for Southland of Illinois at the closing session of the Summit. Dr. Vijay Prabhakar thanked Dr. Terrence Chiramel of American Association of Multi Ethnic Physicians AAMEP-USA, Ms. Alli Dhanaraj of American Multi Ethnic Coalition AMEC, Charlie Dressner , Chief of Business Development, MEDSTAR Laboratory, Hillside, IL, Ms. Neelam Desai, Manager, MAFS Naperville Office, Adam Feldman, Senior VP, Ensoftek Inc, and Anil Kumar of The Global Eye, Digital News Magazine for all their support in organizing this First Gandhi King Roundtable Summit.

Consul General Of Japan in Chicago, Kenichi Okada presented the Congressional MEATF Citations to MAFS Mahatma Gandhi Medal of Excellence 2020 recipients and Dr. Mrs Santosh Kumar, Founder of MAFS honored eight individuals with the MAFS Gandhi Medal of Excellence 2020. The 2020 MAFS Gandhi Medal of Excellence recipients who were honored are Dr. Tariq Butt, President , Chicago Medical Society , Dr David Albert , Director, Division of Mental Health , Illinois Department of Human Services , Donald Dew , President, Habilitative Systems Institute, Chicago , Professor Benneth Lee, Founder National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formerly Incarcerated, (NAEFI ), Ms. Arloa Sutter, Founder-Executive Director, Breakthrough Ministries, Chicago , Albert Holmes, Founder CEO, Elite House of Sober Living, Chicago Heights, IL, Ms. Vinita Gulabani , President, Indian American Cultural Association, Downers Grove, IL and Luke Tharasri, President, Maximon Behavioral Health , Los Angeles.

Dr. Sreenivas Reddy, Vice Chair, Illinois Physician Disciplinary Board in his Closing remarks envisaged that this Gandhi King Legacy initiative on Behavioral Healthcare should be implemented globally and thanked the organizers Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force of Congressman Davis (MEATF), Metropolitan Asian Family Services (MAFS) and THE GLOBAL EYE, Digital News Magazine for hosting this historic Summit. Dr Reddy further added that the presence of the Visionary Consul General of India Amit Kumar and the energetic Consul General Of Japan Kenichi Okada is the new beginnings for a global collective action on behavioral healthcare.

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