Vibrant democracy that is India, say US congressmen

Thursday, 26 February 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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WASHINGTON: A resolution adopted by the House International Relations Committee has commended India for its "vibrant" democracy and support for strong ties with the US.

Rep. Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina who is co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, sponsored the resolution.

It was cosponsored by six leading lawmakers and had the support of 32 congressmen. It lauded India for its firm faith in parliamentary democracy.

The resolution noted that the framers of India's constitution were greatly influenced by the American founding fathers and that it adhered to the American ideals of equality for all citizens regardless of faith, gender or ethnicity.

It said India also respected and cherished freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion -- "the same basic freedoms that we cherish in America".

It mentioned how Mahatma Gandhi was recognised as a world leader and how people of many faiths in India, including Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, have united in securing India's freedom from colonial rule and have served in various capacities in high-ranking government positions.

It paid a tribute to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President George W. Bush as elected leaders of the world's two largest democracies, "actively cultivating strong ties between India and the US".

The resolution, which won all-round support on the committee, chaired by Henry Hyde, a Republican from Illinois, also complimented India for its adherence to the principles of democracy and holding elections on a regular basis at local, regional and national levels.

Among the co-sponsors of the resolution were known friends of India like Frank Pallone, Democrat from New Jersey; Jim McDermott, Democrat from Washington; Sherrod Brown, Democrat from Ohio; Joe Crowley, Democrat from New York; and Tom Davis, Republican from Virginia.

Rep. Ed Royce, Republican from California, an original co-sponsor of the bill and senior member of the committee, said in a statement: "We rightly spend much of our time in this committee focused on what's wrong throughout the world - whether it be the authoritarian regime of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe or Kim Jong Il in North Korea.

"In this context, I think it is proper for the committee to recognise positive developments - in this case, the vibrant democracy that is India.

"India adopted its constitution on Jan 26, 1950, which formalised her identity as a parliamentary democracy.

"Today, India is the world's largest democracy. That is an impressive distinction. Its growth as a world power is creating the chance for peace and stability in South Asia.

"Last month, the committee had a chance to meet with India's foreign minister to discuss the growing bilateral relationship in the areas of space and science. This resolution signals Congress' interest in furthering this important relationship."

Source: IANS
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