Special Correspondent

India has the most vibrant democracy in the world, he tells Finnish leader

NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Tuesday expressed the hope that Parliament will be able to spare more time for transacting financial business in the days to come.

Regretting the fact that, of late, the time spent on discussion on financial matters was not enough, Mr. Chatterjee felt that more time needed to be allocated for such important business. The issue figured in the talks he had with the visiting Prime Minister of Finland Matti Vanhanen, who called on him in Parliament House, a Lok Sabha Secretariat release said.

Welcoming Mr. Vanhanen to Parliament of the world's largest democracy, Mr. Chatterjee expressed happiness at the growing relations between India and Finland. "There is tremendous scope for cooperation in various areas, especially in the industrial sector, between the two countries."

Conveying felicitations on the occasion of Finland celebrating 100th year of functioning of its Parliament, Mr. Chatterjee said there was no alternative to parliamentary democracy at this juncture. To questions from the visiting dignitaries, the Speaker observed: "Nobody can question India 's system of democracy. With 545 elected members in the House of the People, representing over 1 billion people, India has the most vibrant democracy in the world." Judiciary as well as the Press in India were absolutely independent, he said. The Speaker also explained the functioning of the Committee system.

Commenting on the dismal representation of women in Parliament, Mr. Chatterjee said at least one-third seats should be reserved for women in legislative bodies. Asked about the proposal to increase the number of seats in Parliament, Mr. Chatterjee said in lighter vein that the one who makes such proposal should be made the Presiding Officer to understand how difficult it is to manage the House.