Representatives of the world community gathered here today, It is with the deepest reverence that I, on behalf of the Government and the people of India, join the South African nation in paying homage to their beloved Madiba, former President, Dr. Nelson Mandela.
For India, the passing of Nelson Mandela represents the departure of a venerated elder, great soul. We pray for his eternal peace. Madiba lived a life of sacrifice and privation as he pursued a seemingly impossible goal for his people-and the world is richer for his legacy. We, in India, have long admired him - and all that he stood for - and we will always cherish his friendship and love for our people.
To us, Nelson Mandela was a visionary. He epitomized an uncommon humaneness that inspired all of mankind. He was an icon of irreversible social and economic change-the kind of transformation and emancipation that his people had only dreamt of. A towering personality of great compassion and wisdom, he guided his nation, bruised by decades of apartheid and violence, to embrace his simple message of tolerance and harmonious co-existence. Indeed, his life and struggles-which represented 'hope' for the downtrodden in South African and all over the world, remind us of the principles that the father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, stood for. In the face of the severest persecution, punishment and relentless oppression, Nelson mandela continued his non-violent struggle with dignity and pride, refusing to be intimidated. He never diminished his commitment of his kind of 'satyagraha' against injustice and inequality. His stoic determinatio, patience and magnanimityreminded us, in India, of the revolutionary methods of Mahatma Gandhi. It was, therefore, and hounour for Indians. In 1995, when he visited India as the first President of post apartheid Africa, Mandela visited Gandji’s Sabarmati Ashram and said that it was for him homecoming, a pilgrimage. We, on our part, associate South Africa with the first chapter of Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom movement.
Gandhi ji had staked his career as a budding lawyer in South Africa to resist segregation and inequality-before he embarked for India and took up, in India, the same cause. The six principles that Madiba identified as the fundamentals of the foreign policy of the new South Africa-equal human rights, democracy, respect for international law, world peace achieved through non-violent means, effective arms control regimes and economic co-operation in an interdependent world, are the same principles that the Founding Fathers of free India had enshrined in our own policy of Panchsheel. Madiba often acknowledged the influence of Mahatma Gandhi and the wonder then that we, in India, attach great sentiment to our unique friendship with the people of this great country South Africa.
We stand by you in your hour of bereavement and we share your sense of loss today. We have no doubt that the world will honour the historic legacy of Madiba, one of the most influential personalities of our century, who taught the world the true meaning of forgiveness and reconciliation-and steered South Africans onto the path of building a truly Rainbow Nation. I feel privileged to join the Hon'ble Members of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly at the Valedictory Ceremony of the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of the Legislative Assembly. I am grateful to the Hon'ble Speaker of this Assembly. My respected father Late Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee was Member of the West Bengal Legislative Council from 1952 to 1964. My son, Abhijit who is now a Member of the Lok Sabha, started his political career as Member of this Assembly. I first entered the hallowed corridors of Parliament in 1969 on being elected to the Rajya Sabha by members of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. Thereafter on three more occasions I was elected by members of West Bengal Assembly to Rajya Sabha in 1975, 1993 and 1999. I am particularly delighted that Shri Gyan Singh Sohanpal and Shri Md. Sohrab.
Honorable Members, the history of West Bengal Legislative Assembly is intrinsically linked with the evolution of constitutional developments in India. Kolkata has been the nursery of legislative practice and representative democracy in our country. These have occurred on two distinct strands-the Central legislature whose headquarters was Kolkata till the shifting of the Capital to Delhi in 1911 and the Provincial legislature of Bengal.
Origins of the modern day legislative process in India can be traced back to the 1601 Charter which authorized the Governor and the East India Company "to make, ordain and constitute such and so many laws, constitutions, orders and ordinances".
The Regulating Act of 1773 holds a special significance in the legislative history of India because it marks the beginning of parliamentary control over the territorial integration and administrative centralization in India. It accorded as the Governor-General. A Council consisting of four members was constituted to assist the Governor-General.
The Charter Act of 1833 terminated the trading rights of the Company and rendered it merely an administrative agency of the Crown in India. The Governor-General of Bengal was, thereafter, designated as the Governor General of India and empowered to administer the whole of British India. For the first time, the Governor General's Government was known as the Government of India and his British territories in India and introduced an element of institutional specialization meetings. Legislative function so of the Council from its executive meetings. Legislative functions of the state was thus for the first time separated from its executive functions. In 1852, the British Indian Association of Kolkata petitioned the British Parliament.
Under the Charter Act of 1853, discussions in the Council, when acting in its legislative capacity, became oral instead of in writing. Bills passed through the usual three stages and were referred to Select Committees. Legislative business was conducted n public instead of in secret and reports of proceedings were officially published. Standing orders were adopted to conduct and regulate proceedings. The new Council conceived its duties not to be confined only to legislation but also began to assume the character of a miniature representative assembled of the purpose of enquiry into and redress of grievances.
The Act of 1853 gave the legislature for the first time the right to frame its own rules and procedure. Shri Prasanna Kumar Tagore was appointed to the post of Clerk of the Council and he went on to provide the Council with a parliamentary form of government. Public were allowed to witness the proceedings of the Council and press reporting was permitted in 1856. Despite the progressive establishment of legislative practices and procedures, there was, however, no Indian participation in the Council.
The Government of India Act 1859, initiated for the first time non- official participation in the Council. The Governor-General was authorized to nominate to his council not less than six nor were more than twelve additional members at least one half of whom to be non-officials. In 1862, Viceroy Lord Cannin appointed three Indians-Maharaja Sir Narendra Singh of Patiala, Raja Deo Narain Singh of Benares and Raja Sir Dinkar Rao Raghunath of Gwalior to the newly constituted Legislative Council. Between 1862 and 1892, forty-five Indians.
Most of them were ruling princes or chiefs and rich zamindar families. During the Viceroyalty of Lord Rippon, Durga Charan Charan Law, a merchant, Raja Shiva Prasad, an Inspector of Schools and Syed Ameer Ali, a Presidency Magistrate were nominated.
Editor of the Hindoo Patriot, Kristodas Pal recommended by the British Indian Association and after his death Peare Mohan Mukherjee were also nominated to the Council by Lord Rippon. Intellectuals such as Syed Ahem Khan , V.N Mandlik, K.L Nulkar and Rash Behari Ghose were among those nominated to the Council during 1872-92. The nominated Indian members however took little interest in the discussions and usually readout short prepared speeches. They remained docile and presented little opposition to the Government. There remained at he same time strong opposition to Indian involvement in the Councils on the part of many Englishmen. A satirical pamphlet in 1883 argued "and encouragement to the bengalee Baboos would result in nothing less than complete extinction of British rule, that a self-governing India would prove an abortive parliamentary democracy which would run into chaos and subjected to military dictatorship".
Introduction of the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill (1883-84) or Libert bill led to the first meeting of the first National Conferencee at Kolkata on 29 December 1883. Surendranath Banerjee and Ananda Mohan Bose were its lading organizers. Bose depicted this conference as the first stage towards the formation of a National Indian Parliament. The Conference demanded introduction of representative assemblies for the advancement of the people of India. The National Conference was in many ways the precursor of the Indian National Congress. The founding of the Indian National Congress.
At its very first session, the Congress passed a resolution asking for constitutional reforms and for the admission of a considerale proportion of elected members to the Legislative Councils and the right to discuss the budget. Delivering his Presidential Address at the first session in Kolkata, W.C. Banerjee described the Congress as the National Assembly of India. The demand for reform and expansion of the Legislative Councils continued to be made by every annual Congress and became more vociferous from year to year.
The Congress considered the reform of the Councils at the root of all other reforms. At the same time, Viceroy Lord Duffer in publicly dismissed Congressemen as "a microscopic minority"
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