Delegates from thirty-four nations that were once part of the British Empire met in the Indian capital, New Delhi, on Tuesday (28 October) for the opening of the Twenty-First Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.
GVs Parliament building and flags outside (3 shots)
SVs Various delegates arriving (3 shots)
CU Sign - 21st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference
MV & SVs INTERIOR Delegates seated (3 shots)
GV Mrs. Gandhi and President Ahmed arrive to fanfare
SVs Delegates and honour guards (2 shots)
Mv Mrs. Gandhi speaking
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 7: MRS. GANDHI: "Over the years, some democracies have evolved a polarisation in which only two effective parties are active politically. But does a deviation from this rule dilute the essence of democracy? The inability to accede to power by democratic means may lead some parties to offer unconstitutional or extra-constitutional challenges. For young democracies, it is imperative to guard against such developments. It then becomes an onerous, if painful, duty to counter them by constitutional remedies. The responsibility for preserving democracy is not confined to the ruling party, but devolves equally on the parties of the opposition, and the people as a whole."
Initials CL/1838 O/n/1851
This film is serviced with an extract from Mrs. Gandhi's speech to delegates.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Delegates from thirty-four nations that were once part of the British Empire met in the Indian capital, New Delhi, on Tuesday (28 October) for the opening of the Twenty-First Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.
Inaugurating the week-long meeting, Indian President, Mr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, described the Commonwealth as a unique organisation with few parallels in history.
During the conference, delegates will discuss the question of Commonwealth and World security, with particular reference to the Indian Ocean, south-east Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean. Talks on the world energy crisis and attempts to build anew international economic order also figure high on the agenda.
The meeting is the first major conference held in India since the Government imposed a state of emergency on 26 June, and imprisoned many prominent opposition leaders.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, India's Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi strongly defended Indian democracy, but made no mention of the state of emergency. She stressed the duty of governments to contain "unconstitutional or extra-constitutional" threats to democracy by opposition parties and other forces frustrated at one party's success at the polls over a long period.
Mrs. Gandhi's Congress Party has ruled India since independence from Britain in 1947.
She warned of the constant need for vigilance, and said that smaller countries with the advantage of religious, ethnic and linguistic cohesion and long periods of stability "cannot easily visualise the tensions that continually arise in our land."
Indian judges are expected to rule in the next few days on Mrs. Gandhi's efforts to have election law convictions against her quashed. The Prime Minister is appealing against convictions made in June this year concerning malpractice during the 1971 general election.