India and Commonwealth
1. India is the largest member state of the Commonwealth, with nearly 60% of the total population of the association. It is the fourth largest contributor to the Commonwealth budgets and programmes. It provides the largest number of technical experts engaged by the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation extending assistance to developing Commonwealth countries after the UK.
2. Commonwealth is an association which puts premium on democracy and good governance, where India has so much to share with others. It provides a platform to interact and build consensus with a very diverse group of countries, including G-8 countries like the UK and Canada, key developing countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Malaysia, and plethora of Small Sates.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)
3. Hon'ble Vice President led the Indian delegation to the CHOGM held in Perth, (Australia) from 28-30 October, 2011. The theme for CHOGM 2011 was 'building national resilience, building global resilience'. At the end of CHOGM, leaders adopted a communiqué as well as the Perth declaration on food security principles. Mandate was given to the 2nd term of the Commonwealth Secretary General Mr Kamlesh Sharma.
The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation
4. The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC) is the principal means by which the Commonwealth delivers development assistance to member countries.
5. India provides a comparatively large number of long-term experts to various CFTC programmes, which is the largest proportion of CFTC experts provided by any developing country in the Commonwealth. The contribution made by Indian experts in various fields is greatly appreciated by the beneficiary states and provides an excellent example of South-South cooperation.
6. The Commonwealth Foundation is an intergovernmental organisation, resourced by and reporting to Commonwealth governments. Founded in 1965, its mandate is to strengthen civil society and enhance its contribution in the Commonwealth. It is guided by Commonwealth values and priorities. India is a member of the Executive and Grants Committees of the Commonwealth Foundation. The Foundation works closely with several voluntary organisations in India.
7. The Foundation organises the Commonwealth People's Forum (CPF) on the sidelines of CHOGM to provide opportunities for networking and interaction among civil society organizations in the host country and in the Commonwealth, and to showcase the work and contribution of these organizations to the fundamental principles and values of the Commonwealth.
8. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress Party and Chair of the United Progressive Alliance addressed the 14th Commonwealth Foundation Lecture in London on 17th March 2011 and urged Commonwealth to spearhead inclusion of women in global climate change debate.
The Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP)
9. The Commonwealth is the only intergovernmental organisation to have a dedicated youth programme. The guiding principle of The CYP is that young people possess the drive, ability, and potential to help both themselves and their communities. Through its London headquarters and regional centres in Australia, Guyana, India and Zambia, it strengthens National Youth Ministries, provides training to youth development workers, and helps young people to receive education and training and start and run their own businesses.
10. India is the third largest contributor to the budget of the CYP. India accounts for the two-third of the Commonwealth youth population in Asia which totals 600 million. The regional centres in Chandigarh known as 'Centre of Excellence'. Many of the CYP pilot projects are initiated in India. Through partnerships with the private sector, a Technology Empowerment Centre in India has been established, which offers affordable courses in programming and e-commerce.
11. The Chandigarh Centre responds to youth development for 8 countries of the Commonwealth. These 8 countries together have a total population of 1.4 billion people. Approximately one-third of the budget of the Asian office in Chandigarh is utilised in India, while the remaining is equitably distributed between other member countries.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
12. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) links members of national and state parliaments across the Commonwealth encompassing approximately 175 national and state or provincial parliaments. The CPA aims to provide a forum for discussion on matters of common parliamentary interest, to disseminate information on parliamentary institutions and spread knowledge on constitutional, legislative; economic, social and cultural issues.
13. The 53rd CPA Conference was held in New Delhi in September 2007. India has, in the past, hosted annual CPA conferences in 1957, 1975 and 1991.
14. India hosted the Conference of Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers on 4-7 January 2010 in New Delhi. Smt. Meira Kumar, Speaker of Lok Sabha, who is an Acting Regional Representative from CPA India Union, was nominated as delegate to General Assembly for the period 2009-12 during the CPA conference in Arusha, Tanzania. The 57th CPA Conference was held from 21-28 July 2011 in London. Smt. Meira Kumar presided over the conference.
Commonwealth Games 2010
15. India hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) in New Delhi. The 19th Commonwealth Games opened from 3-14 October 2010, and 71 countries participated in the games
Commonwealth of Learning
16. The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an inter-governmental organisation (with headquarters in Vancouver, Canada) created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training.
17. Through COL, Indian expertise has been utilised in building distance education capacity in other parts of the region and the Commonwealth. It has had a very close working relationship, since inception, with India's Indira Gandhi National Open University and the National Institute of Open Schooling. India is one of the main contributors to the COL budget.
Commonwealth Local Government Forum
18. Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) is one of the two Commonwealth associated organizations in the elected category. It works to promote and strengthen democratic local governments across the Commonwealth, and to encourage the exchange of best practice - through conferences and events.
19. Union Ministries of Panchayati Raj, Rural Development, Urban Development and Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation, 14 local municipalities and All-India Institute for Local Self Government are at present paid members of CLGF from India.
20. Government of India hosted the meeting of CLGF Board in New Delhi in 2002. Following this meeting, CLGF's Good Practice Scheme was launched in India. Three states-Gujarat, Kerala and Maharashtra were selected for the programme which provides technical skills exchanges between Indian local government practitioners and their counterparts in the other Commonwealth Countries.
Commonwealth Business Council
21. CBC is the only Commonwealth organization that engages in consensus-building between the private sector and governments on trade and investment. It acts as a bridge for co-operation between business and government, concentrating on efforts to help remove barriers to trade, mobilise investment into Commonwealth countries, foster a good environment for business and investment, promote good practice in corporate governance and corporate citizenship, and facilitate the engagement of the private sector in information communication technology for development (ICT4D) initiatives, especially in least developed countries. It organises the Commonwealth Business Forum on the sidelines of the CHOGM. Prior to CHOGM 2011 (Perth) Meeting of the Commonwealth Business Forum were held from 25-27 October 2011 and Indian delegation participated.
India's present contributions
22. India is the fourth largest contributor to overall Commonwealth budget.
Website of the Commonwealth Secretariat can be accessed at www.thecommonwealth.org