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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Arabs look to India for lessons in democracy

Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times  New Delhi , April 01, 2013
First Published: 23:21 IST(1/4/2013) | Last Updated: 16:35 IST(2/4/2013)

After the Arab Spring — which saw the exit of many dictatorial regimes — the Arab nations are looking to India, the largest democracy, to shape their constitutional set-up.

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Libya, which ousted Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 to end a four-decade long rule, is now drafting a new, all-inclusive Constitution and has sought lessons in parliamentary democracy from the Indian Parliament.

A delegation of the Constitution and legislative committee of the Libyan General National Congress, the present Parliament of Libya, would be taking lessons in Constitution drafting and legislation preparation from the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training (BPST)of the Lok Sabha. The three-day course beginning Tuesday, includes lectures by experts, MPs on constitutional processes and primacy of Parliament. 

Last year, India had helped Egypt with its elections, held after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak.

It’s not just Libya or Egypt, several other African-Arab nations — aspiring to be strong democracies — are showing a keen interest in learning from the Indian experience. Lebanon, Sudan, Algeria, Jordan and Bahrain — where civil uprisings have sprung in the past two years — are some of the nations, which would be in India in April to study parliamentary procedures and the executive accountability. “We are expecting some more countries like Tunisia to join in,” Indian Parliament officials said.

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Following Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar’s suggestion, BPST in collaboration with Jamia Milia Islamia University is preparing the two-week programme in April in Arabic — the official language in most of these nations — while the ministry of external affairs is sponsoring an all expenses paid tour as a good-will gesture.

“The success of our parliamentary system despite diversity of cultures, coalitions and challenges is what fascinates these countries. As the churning in the Arab world continues, we expect more countries to show interest in our democratic model,” a Parliament official told HT.


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