Children give their verdict: restore parliamentary democracy

August 11th, 2008 - 4:00 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Somnath Chatterjee

New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) Not letting down the scores of schoolchildren who were stopped from taking their peace march to parliament for security reasons Monday, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee came to meet them instead at Gandhi Smriti and accepted their pledges to strengthen parliamentary democracy in the country. As part of the Taking Children to Gandhi programme, nearly 500 children of classes 10 and 12 from 10 schools across Delhi came together early Monday to march to parliament and present to Chatterjee an appeal expressing their anguish over the recent “un-parliamentary” events in the Lok Sabha and a request to “restore” democracy at all costs.

“The plan was to take the 1.5 kilometre walk from the Gandhi Smriti, where Gandhiji was assassinated, to parliament, holding portraits of Mahatma Gandhi, the national flag and replicas of the 144 columns of Parliament House,” Suhas Borker, the convenor of the programme, told IANS.

However, Borker said, the marching children were in for a surprise as they were stopped by the police for security reasons.

“This didn’t deter the children’s spirits. And they were more than happy when the Lok Sabha speaker himself came down to meet them,” he said.

The students presented the speaker with a copy of Gandhi’s quote - “Whenever you are in doubt, recall the faces of the poorest and the weakest…” - in both Hindi and English, which is to be prominently displayed on the walls of the house.

“There has been enough of lip service about Gandhiji… about his principles… Singing hymns on Oct 2, his birthday, and visiting the Raj ghat as an annual ritual,” Abhinav Garg, a participating school student, said.

“It’s time we take Gandhiji out of the history books and start living his way of life. As he said - Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

The pledges which the students submitted sought to “restore and uphold” parliamentary democracy by maintaining five rules in life: inculcating tolerance in their lives, respecting the law, not accepting or giving bribe, invoking transparency in every step and instilling a sense of social justice.

Their reference to “un-parliamentary” events in the Lok Sabha related to three MPs displaying wads of currency notes during the trust vote July 22, saying they were offered bribes to support the government.

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