Honourable Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Smt. Sumitra Mahajan led a high level delegation of seven Members of Parliament to the 137th Assembly of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) at St. Petersburg, Russian Federation on 14-18 October 2017. The Indian delegation actively participated in the various important deliberations of the IPU including the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, Asia Pacific Group (APG), Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs, Standing Committee on Democracy & Human Rights, Forum of Young Parliamentarians of the IPU, Assembly of the IPU and presented India’s position on those issues.
2. Hon’ble Speaker addressed the IPU Assembly on October 15, 2017 on the subject of ‘Promoting cultural pluralism and peace through Inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue’. She stressed that India is socially, politically, culturally, religiously and spiritually democratic. As a result a number of religions and religious ideas have taken birth and flourished in India. She highlighted that India is one of the largest and most plural societies in the world. She stated that “Pluralism is not diversity alone, but energetic engagement with diversity” and referred to India’s accommodating ethos that has sheltered many religions coming from outside her boundaries and its spread has never been oppressive in character; rather it is educative and elevating. She pointed out that the Parliament of India has been playing a significant role in providing necessary safeguards and an enabling environment for peaceful co-existence of religions, faiths and diverse groups.
3.On the sidelines of the IPU Assembly, the Hon’ble Speaker held a warm and cordial meeting meeting with Mr. Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation. The two sides once again reiterated that highest importance they attach to strengthening of the traditionally strong relations between India and Russia, and agreed to maintain the momentum of high level contacts. She announced the formation of a 15 member India-Russia Friendship Group of Parliamentarians from both Houses of the Parliament, which would be co-chaired by Smt. Hema Malini, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha. The Speaker of the Russian Duma accepted the invitation to visit India in 2018 and hold the next India-Russia Parliamentary Committee meeting. The Hon’ble Speaker also held a brief interaction with Ms. Valentina Matvienko, Chairperson of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
4. Hon’ble Speaker attended a meeting of the 3rd BRICS Parliamentary Forum and underlined India’s commitment to its activities.
5. In addition, the Hon’ble Speaker held discussions with the Heads of delegations of Brazil, South Africa and South Korea.
15 October 2017