President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said the real dirt of India lies not on the streets but in “our minds and in our unwillingness to let go of views that divide society into them and us”.
Stressing on cleansing minds of divisive thoughts, Mukherjee referred Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of India as an inclusive nation where every section of population lived in equality and enjoyed equal opportunity and said the essence of being human is “our trust of each other”.
“Every day, we see unprecedented violence all around us. At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear and mistrust. While we invent new modes of combating this ever spiraling violence, we must not forget the power of non-violence, dialogue and reason,” he said, addressing a function in Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad.
The 79-year-old said Ahimsa (or non-violence) is not a negative force and “we must free our public discourse of all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. Only a non-violent society can ensure the participation of all sections of the people, especially the marginalised and the dispossessed in our democratic process.”
Gandhiji gave us an object lesson in Ahimsa by taking the assassin’s bullets with the name of Rama on his lips, Mukherjee added.
He said the real dirt of India lies not in our streets but in our minds and in our unwillingness to let go of views that divide society into ‘them’ and ‘us’, ‘pure’ and ‘impure’ as he was inaugurating the Archives and Research Centre at the Ashram
“We must make a success of the laudable and welcome Swatch Bharat Mission. However, this also must be seen as just the beginning of a much larger and intense effort to cleanse minds and fulfil Gandhiji’s vision in all its aspects,” said Mukherjee.
“So long as the de-humanising practice of carrying night soil persists, we cannot have real Swacch Bharat”, Mukherjee said, who is on three-day maiden visit to Gujarat.
The President said Gandhiji is not just the “Father of our Nation’ but also the maker of our nation as he gave us the moral vector to guide our actions, a measure by which we are judged.
“Gandhiji saw India as an inclusive nation where every section of our population lived in equality and enjoyed equal opportunity. He saw India as a country which would celebrate and constantly strengthen its vibrant diversity and commitment to pluralism.
“Gandhiji wanted our people to move forward unitedly in ever widening thought and action. And most of all, he did not want us to convert the celebration of his life and message into a mere ritual,” he said.
President Mukherjee has been speaking against “intolerance” after the Dadri incident and subsequent events.