India to offer Myanmarese MPs lessons in democracy

India to offer Myanmarese MPs lessons in democracy

New Delhi likely to invite Suu Kyi to visit India during PMs visit

Once accused of turning its back on people’s movement against military rule in Myanmar, India is now all set to offer the country’s MPs a lesson or two about democracy.

Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with Myanmar’s Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon next week, India on Friday revealed that it would facilitate visits by delegations of Myanmarese MPs to New Delhi to learn about the way the parliamentary system functions in the largest democracy of the world.

Singh will be on a visit to Myanmar from Sunday to Tuesday. His visit is going to be the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 25 years. He will meet Myanmar’s President U Thein Sein and have other official engagements in the country’s capital Nay Pyi Taw on May 27 and 28 and is expected to meet Suu Kyi in Yangon on May 29 before returning to New Delhi.

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said that New Delhi would invite eight batches of Myanmarese MPs – each having 10 – to learn about the proceedings in Indian Parliament. The first batch of the MPs would come to New Delhi next July, he added.  

During his meetings with both Thein Sein and Suu Kyi, Singh is expected to reiterate India’s commitment to “extending all possible assistance and support to the process of national reconciliation and the further strengthening of democracy in Myanmar”.

Prime Minister’s meeting with Suu Kyi is going to be India’s first high-level contact with the Nobel laureate democracy icon after her release from house arrest on November 13, 2010 and her election to the ‘Pyithu Hluttaw’ or the lower house of Myanmarese Parliament last month. New Delhi might extend a formal invitation to Suu Kyi to visit India during Singh’s tour to Myanmar.

Sources told Deccan Herald that some of the NLD MPs were also expected to be among the 80 parliamentarians, who would come to learn about parliamentary democracy in India.

Strong support

As Suu Kyi spent 15 of the 21 years between 1989 and 2010 under house arrest, India’s engagements with the military junta that ruled Myanmar and its reluctance to strongly support the cause of democracy in the neighbouring country upset her supporters.

New Delhi also drew flak from the western world and human rights organisations for shying away from strongly condemning suppression of democratic movements in Myanmar.

Foreign Secretary, however, said on Friday that India’s policy of continued engagements with the junta, rather than joining the west to isolate Myanmar, had paid dividends as the country was now in the process of a transition to democracy.

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