Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Dark clouds hover as Indian parliament turns 60

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Despite the mounting criticism and steady loss of faith in democratic institutions and the many questions being raised by Indians about the personal integrity of those in public life, it was a proud moment for India when its parliament convened a special session on Sunday to mark the 60th anniversary of the first sitting of the Indian parliament on May 13, 1952. The luminaries at the time included Rajendra Prasad, S. Radhakrishnan, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and B.R. Ambedkar amongst others.

The celebratory speeches by MPs on Sunday cut across party lines and reflected the enormity of what had been achieved — the nurturing of the democratic ethos through the ballot box for six decades — despite the certitude, at the time when the colonial yoke was lifted, that democracy in India was doomed to fail.

Leading the charge was the redoubtable but congenitally imperialistic Winston Churchill who predicted that the natives were not fit to govern themselves and would soon “fall back quite rapidly through the centuries into the barbarism and privations of the Middle Ages”.

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