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Bapu Chobe asked: What is the relevance of CHOGM for India? Is it only a symbolic forum?

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  • S.D. Muni replies: Commonwealth Meeting is a gathering of former British colonies. After independence, India insisted on being a republican member and the prefix “British” was also dropped from the name “Commonwealth”. India used this forum for mobilising support in the case of Burma (1948-49) and Indonesia. Commonwealth has also exercised moral pressure for democracy and human rights, the latest example being the case of Sri Lanka and Maldives. Pakistan's undemocratic regimes have also been pressured by the Commonwealth in the past.

    The Commonwealth Meeting is a good occasion for networking and establishing informal contacts at the highest level between countries that have common interests, even outside the framework of formal agenda. Though this forum is not a critical instrument of India's foreign policy, but it is a useful gathering that can be employed when there are specific issues of concern.