India Diaspora
Learning about democracy
Feb 11, 2007 - 12:08:52 PM

A group of 40 officials from Bhutan are doing the rounds of Punjab these days - learning the basics of conducting an election. These are the first lessons that these Bhutanese officials are getting on the democratic tradition and electoral practices. The target for them is to get their country's first-ever electoral exercise conducted in 2008 when Bhutan shifts from monarchy to a parliamentary democracy.

The Bhutanese officials, including eight senior district commissioners, are doing and seeing most things for the first time, like the electronic voting machines - being used in all 117 assembly seats in Punjab for the Feb 13 election. Bhutanese officials will be coming for similar learning exercises in other state assembly elections, like Uttar Pradesh, to know more about conducting an election.

Of course, the electorate in their own country will be much smaller than several Indian states. Bhutan is likely to get its first political party in June-July this year when they are registered.

The Bhutanese officials include four women. Like eager students, they are taking lessons on the electoral practices from Punjab's election officials.

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