Sundeep Bhutoria

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Whiff of India in UK

Great Britain, it seems, is taking a leaf or two from India. First a long strike at the British Airways and now a `Coalition government’. The Parliament House in London and the British Parliamentary system is a role model for many countries especially the Commonwealth states.
I have visited the British Parliament a number of times to meet many members of Parliament (MPs) at the famous tea lounge and sat through many interesting debates and question & answer sessions.
Sir Churchill, who was at the centre of many memorable debates and arguments in the House, had once alluded to Lady Nancy Astor by defining `Astorite’ as an appeaser “…who feeds the crocodile hoping that it will eat him last.” Lady Astor was Britain’s first woman member of the House of Commons who headed a clique that found something to admire in Hitler’s Germany. Shortly, thereafter, the rub off had lead to one of the famous incidents at the Astor Mansion in Cliveden when the acid-tongued Lady, while pouring coffee, had said, “Winston, if I were your wife, I’d put poison in your coffee.” “Nancy,” Churchill had replied, “If I were your husband, I’d drink it.”
In 1966 a massive fire at the Parliament shook London. The conflagration had started from a bakery shop near London Bridge. At present, at a distance of 222 ft from the ill-fated bakery there stands a 222-ft high monument erected in the memory of the people who died in that fire. The Parliament was rebuild and different nations had sent different things for the purpose. One of the huge gates was sent from India. 
I visited the British Parliament a couple of times last year when I was in London. Once to have tea with Lord Swaraj Paul at the tea lounge and once for a luncheon meet with Baroness Verma in one of the dining rooms near the House of Lords (file pictures).
Our own Parliament in Delhi, our constitution, administrative structure and style of functioning mirrors that of Great Britain. The Aryans were the first to rule India and the Britishers being the last have left its imprint.
I personally know many British Parliamentarians and have had many opportunities over the past 7 years to host hi-teas, dinners and get-togethers on many occasions in Kolkata. Most of MPs from UK have attended individually or as part of a delegation. 
A few years back I had hosted a dinner at the ITC Sonar Bangla in Kolkata in honour of a British parliamentary delegation led by Lord Swaraj Paul. Over dinner, I had learnt first hand from many of the MPs about the British Parliamentary system and its ways (picture - Left to right: West Bengal Speaker H A Halim, Harsh Neotia, Mrs Swaraj Paul, Usha Utthup, Lord Swaraj Paul, Dr Prabha Khaitan and H M Bangur at ITC Sonar Bangla dinner function.)

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