Soul of India is in tolerance: Pranab

Soul of India is in tolerance: Pranab

Address on the eve of demitting office

Soul of India is in tolerance: Pranab
President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said plurality and tolerance makes the country “special” and one cannot deny the “essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion” while batting for freeing public discourse from all forms of violence.

Delving on the “soul of India” that resides in pluralism and tolerance, he said our country is not just a geographical entity but it carries a “history of ideas, philosophy, intellect, industrial genius, craft, innovation and experience”.

In his address to the nation on the eve of demitting his office, Mukherjee said the creation of an inclusive society has to be an “article of faith” as Mahatma Gandhi saw it where every section of our population lived in equality and enjoyed equal opportunity.

“Plurality of our society has come about through assimilation of ideas over centuries. The multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. We derive our strength from tolerance. It has been part of our collective consciousness for centuries,” he said.

Noting that there are “divergent strands” in public discourse, he said, “We may argue, we may agree or we may not agree. But we cannot deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion. Otherwise, a fundamental character of our thought process will wither away.”

However, he lamented that every day, one is seeing “increased violence”. Arguing that only a non-violent society can ensure participation of all sections of the people in the democratic process, he said, “At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear and mistrust. We must free our public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal.”

While remembering the five years in office, Mukherjee left it to the “critical lens of history” to judge him.

The President said he was conscious of his responsibility and he learnt from his interactions with people and travels across the country.

“These interactions kept me focused and inspired. I strove hard. How successful I was in discharging my responsibilities will be judged, over the time, through the critical lens of history,” he said.

The President said for the past 50 years of his public life, his “sacred text” has been the Constitution, his “temple” the Parliament and his “passion” has been to serve the people of India.

In his speech, he also touched upon his pet theme of education, which he said is the “alchemy that can take India to its next golden age”. He emphasised the need for upgrading higher institutions of learning to world-class levels.

“Our education system must accept disruption as a norm and prepare our students to manage and build upon the disruptions. Our universities should not be a place for rote-memorising but an assembly of inquisitive minds. Creative thinking, innovation and scientific temper have to be promoted in our institutions of higher learning,” he said.
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