India downplays US ambassador's remarks advocating free speech

India downplays US ambassador's remarks advocating free speech

India today downplayed US Ambassador Richard Verma's remarks advocating "free speech" in universities and colleges in the backdrop of the JNU row.

"Where is the doubt that we do not have diversity on our campuses or the free thought in India is curtailed in any way. Very vigorous debate that we have seen in Parliament itself is an example of diversity of thought and opinion in India," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

He was asked about India's position on Verma's recent remarks, made twice in as many days, that diversity of "thought and speech" was one of India's great hallmarks which will "propel" it forward.

When asked about JNU row, Verma had said, "It will be hard to find a country more diverse than India. That is a great attribute of this country. It is what will propel India forward in the next century. That's also a part of both of our democracies, particularly on college campuses and it is something both of our countries frankly have celebrated and welcomed over years and over decades and these are called the laboratories of thoughts.

"Ultimately this is a question for Indian society to resolve. It is one of the great hallmarks of India and US to have this diversity of thought and diversity of speech and the fact is we are constitutional democracies, where speech is a central tenet of what we hold dear."

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