Union minister and prominent lawmakers in India support call for a UN Parliamentary Assembly

Secretariat, 9. December 2011

India should approve of proposal, says former foreign minister

Nearly forty sitting members of parliament from India cutting across party lines, around half of them each from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, support an appeal addressed to the UN and the governments of its member states “to establish a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations.” According to the statement “a gradual implementation

Union minister Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh
Wikipedia

of democratic participation and representation on the global level” is recommended.

The list of Indian lawmakers that have endorsed the proposal includes current union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, union ministers of state Saugata Roy and Dinsha Patel as well as former union ministers Mani Shankar Aiyar, Saifuddin Soz and Shashi Tharoor, the latter of whom served as junior foreign minister in Manmohan Singh’s cabinet from 2009 to 2010.

Commented Shri Deshmukh, union minister of science, technology and earth sciences: “Yes, I support the establishment of a UN Parliamentary Assembly and it would be good if the proposal is seriously considered by the United Nations.”

“Of course a lot of details need to be investigated. Still the government of India could express at the UN General Assembly

Shri Sashi Tharoor
Wikimedia, by WEF

that in principle it regards the proposal of a UN Parliamentary Assembly with favor,” said Shri Tharoor at a meeting with representatives of the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly in Delhi on Thursday, 8th December.

Indian experience instructive

Shyam Benegal, the renowned director and screenwriter who is a member of the Rajya Sabha, declared his support of a UN Parliamentary Assembly recently. "When India was granted independence, skeptical observers said that so remarkably diverse a country in terms of religion, language, and culture could not maintain a representative democracy.

Shri Shyam Benegal
Wikimedia, by S.K. Bordoloi

Yet, despite these doubts, that is exactly what India has done. Today similar doubts are often expressed with regard to global democracy. Based on our experience, I believe that obstacles can be overcome and that first small steps to build democracy at the global scale are now necessary and possible,” Shri Benegal argued.

Former union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar added that "at Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru said, 'We look upon the world with clear and friendly eyes.' One proof of that would be Indian support to a World Parliament."

Supporters of the appeal for a UN Parliamentary Assembly from India also include BJP vice president Najma Heptullah who served as a member of the Rajya Sabha for four terms and who was president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union from 1999 to 2002, the worldwide umbrella organization of national parliaments, or eminent individuals such as Professor M.S. Swaminathan who was considered by Time magazine "one of the most influential Asian people of the 20th century" and Ela Bhatt, founder of SEWA and a member of The Elders.

Indian lawmakers that support the campaign

Read more

30 March 2009: Event in Delhi: "India could play a significant role in a UN Parliamentary Assembly"

Top image: Parliament buildings in Delhi, Source: Flickr, Creative Commons, by Couche Tard