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Growing Intolerance: President Again Urges Tolerance

... TOI:

For the second time in a month, a visibly disturbed President has spoken out for tolerance and the importance of protecting diversity in the country. "Pluralism is key to our civilization and culture," Pranab Mukherjee said. He is here for Durga Puja and spoke at a felicitation function on Monday.

Mukherjee said what held India together was "tolerance" which "calls for respecting other religions and other views." In his 10-minute speech, he stressed that "pluralism and tolerance have held together for ages this civilization of many languages, races, religions, with diverse anthropological features."

The President said, "Tolerance is not a political cliche. We celebrate diversity, we are ready to accept other views." Without making a direct reference to the Dadri killing or the smear campaign against writers, 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. A question comes to our mind - Are we on the right track?"
 

Mukherjee is in his village, Mirati, for the Pujas. He said in Bengali, "Dhak bejechhe, kintu kichhu katha mone rakhte hobe (the drums are playing, but we should keep in mind certain things)". He said in his recent visit to Israel, Jordan and Palestine, he was asked what binds India together.

"They wanted to know the chemistry of a country of 123 languages, races, religions and diverse anthropological features. I am not sure why they asked me the question... Maybe, these countries are witnessing unrest," he said.

"Our collective strength must be harnessed to resist evil powers in society," the President said. His comments came on Shashthi, the day goddess Durga is welcomed during the pujas.

He said such unrest was also bothering India. "Some such questions bother our country also. We believe in Ramakrishna's saying 'jata mat, tata path' (ways are many, as are opinions). It is our inheritance," he said.

Recalling Rabindranath Tagore, Mukherjee said, "He had said 'sabar upor manush sotto, tahar upore nai' (humans are the ultimate, there's none above him). Our civilization won't have lasted for 5,000 years without tolerance... The Indian civilization has always accepted dissent and differences."

He also said, "Hope Mahamaya, the combination of all positive forces would eliminate the Asuras or divisive forces," adding, "We have a constitution that accommodates all these differences."

His comments came on shashthi, the day goddess Durga is welcomed during the pujas. He said such unrest was also bothering India. "Some such questions bother our country also. We believe in Ramakrishna's saying 'jata mat, tata path' (ways are many, as are opinions). It is our inheritance," he said.

Recalling Rabindranath Tagore, Mukherjee said, "He had said 'sabar upor manush sotto, tahar upore nai' (humans are the ultimate, there's none above him). Our civilization won't have lasted for 5,000 years without tolerance... The Indian civilization has always accepted dissent and differences."

He also said, "Hope Mahamaya, the combination of all positive forces would eliminate the Asuras or divisive forces," adding, "We have a constitution that accommodates all these differences."

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