Bhubaneswar: Delegates from eight countries, currently on an exposure trip to India to learn more about parliamentary governance system, on Saturday hailed the country’s democratic ethos.
“India is not only the oldest, but the greatest of democracies in the world and it is about freedom, tolerance and equality of gender,” Miguel Costa Matos, MP from Portugal, said while participating in a seminar on ‘Democracy and Governance’ organised at Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (SOA).
The visit of the delegates has been organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Gen Next Democracy Network as part of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebration to mark India’s 75 years of Independence to enable them to get a comprehensive overview of India’s democratic traditions, cultural heritage and developmental initiatives.
Matos hailed India’s focus on the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. “The need today is to fight climate change, live like one family and face the future together,” he said adding the pandemic had brought the countries closer.
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Justice Anil Kumar Choudhury, Judge of the High Court of Jharkhand, who was the chief speaker, described India as the oldest and biggest democracy in the world while pointing out that the democratic system in India prevailed since the medieval times.
“The concept of democracy and welfare state was prevalent even during the Indus Valley civilisation. Excavation at ancient Harappan sites has shown that the panchayat system was 5,000 years old,” he said adding the stone carvings of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu also pointed to the existence of panchayat system in the ancient days.
The delegation comprised 26 members from Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Guyana, Mongolia, Portugal and South Africa comprising lawmakers, businessmen, journalists, scholars, activists and youth leaders. Domagoj Hajdukovic (Croatia), Tomas Roggeman (Belgium), Giuseppe Ricardo Meneghetti Riesgo (Brazil), Alexandra Valentinova Korcheva (Bulgaria), Ganesh Adjtya Mahipaul and Suresh Singh (both Guyana) and Pervin Vedan (South Africa) also spoke in the seminar.
Some of the delegates described democracy as the most suitable method of governance while expressing concern over the emergence of authoritarian regimes.
Prof Pradipta Kumar Nanda, vice-chancellor of SOA, who welcomed the delegates, said the university had celebrated its silver jubilee last year and it presently had more than 200 foreign students from different countries. “We are aiming to have 1,000 foreign students from various countries,” he said adding SOA is now globally known.
Prof Amit Banerjee, pro-chancellor of SOA, was present while the university’s dean (Students’ Welfare), Prof Jyoti Ranjan Das conducted the programme. Prof Nachieketa K Sharma, director, University Outreach Programme, proposed the vote of thanks.
The delegates visited the Odisha Legislative Assembly in the morning and met the deputy speaker Rajanikanta Singh and Odisha government’s chief whip Prasanta Muduli. They called on the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the state secretariat in the evening and exchanged ideas.