President Pranab Mukherjee, for the second time, has expressed serious apprehensions over whether tolerance and acceptance of dissent are on the wane in the country at Birbhum in West Bengal. Humanism and pluralism should not be abandoned under any circumstance, the President said.
Addressing at a felicitation function, Mukherjee said, “Assimilation through receiving is a characteristic of Indian society. Our collective strength must be harnessed to resist evil powers in society.”
“Indian civilisation has survived for 5000 years because of its tolerance. It has always accepted dissent and differences. A large number of languages, 1600 dialects and 7 religions coexist in India. We have a Constitution that accommodates all these differences,” the President said.
“Tolerance is not a political cliche. We celebrate diversity, we are ready to accept other views.” he said.
“We have heard about some untoward incidents recently. Some of these are being discussed in the media. They sometimes create confusion and uncertainty,” he said, adding, “A question comes to our mind – Are we on the right track?”
Recalling his recent visit to three countries in West Asia, he said, “What surprised me was that the leaders of the three countries, the students and the teachers of all the three well-known universities of those countries asked me a question. What is the chemistry behind such strong nationalism in India where there is so much variety in respect of religion, race, languages, anthropological features, etc.”
“I’m not sure why they asked such a question. May be the ongoing unrest had prompted them to do so. The basis of the national integration of this country is tolerance,” he said.