A delegation of British Members of Parliament visited The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy on Friday. Headed by Alun Cairns, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation of British MPs interacted with members of the Board of Management of the Centre, besides senior editors and journalists from The Hindu and Business Line.
N. Ram and N. Ravi, Directors, Kasturi and Sons Ltd., who are on the Centre’s Board of Management, and V.S. Sambandan, Chief Administrative Officer at the Centre, briefed the visiting delegation on the activities of the Centre.
The MPs, during their interaction under Chatham House rules, evinced interest in the working of the Indian federal system, especially relations between the Central government and the States. They also touched upon the issue of regulating the media, with one of the MPs suggesting that in the UK the increasing perception was that it was the media, and not Parliament, that was sovereign.
Noting the manner in which political and constitutional reform had moved centrestage in Britain with discussions about a change in the election system and the proposed referendum on Scottish independence, another MP asked whether the Indian system too was contemplating major reforms. Others raised questions about the relevance of parliamentary democracy and the people’s faith in the political system, and were told that recent protests against corruption and the Delhi gang rape were expressions of popular anger against the apathetic political class.
The climate for private investment, especially in Tamil Nadu, the presence of women in the media and future of democracy, were other aspects that the visiting parliamentarians showed interest in.
The MPs included Baroness Buscombe, Jonathan Djanogly, Baroness Gale, Mary McLeod and Lord Rana.