Amid debate over intolerance, Vice President says India is a pluralistic society

There is no attempt to "homogenise" culture, Vice President Hamid Ansari told the students at Udayana University.

Amid debate over intolerance, Vice President says India is a pluralistic society

Bali: Amidst the ongoing debate back home on intolerance, Vice President Hamid Ansari Wednesday said India is a pluralistic society and there are constitutional guarantees to ensure diversity and a secular state that shows equal respect for all faiths and religions.

He also said that India is a country where every effort is made to allow all different versions of what constitutes Indian culture to prosper and express itself.

There is no attempt to "homogenise" culture, he told the students at Udayana University where he also unveiled a bust of Mahatama Gandhi.

"India is a pluralistic society. Plurality is a reality and we make sure that our state shall be secular or in other words, have equal respect for all faiths or religions.

"There are guarantees in the constitution which ensures that this is done in practice. This is the way we implement our diversity," Ansari, currently on a visit to Indonesia, said.

He was replying to questions at an interactive session after his speech when he was asked how India managed its plurality.

Elaborating on plurality, the Vice President said that unlike most currency notes in the world, where the value is written in one or two languages, Indian currency notes mention it in 18 languages.

"That is how we practice diversity in our daily life," he said.

Responding to a question by a student as to how India implemented Gandhian values in social life, Ansari said: "Gandhian teachings are a core value in all segments of our society. It is the unwritten subtext to our constitutional structure. Yet it would be foolhardy to say that we have succeeded doing it hundred per cent. We are committed to it.

"We aspire to implement it and it is work in progress and will continue. There is no such thing as perfection in social life."

The Vice President also said that both India and Indonesia are pluralistic democracies with majority of young populations, shared values and the youth of both nations should connect and define a prosperous future.

In the speech, Ansari said that both Indian and Balinese civilisations share philosophy of peace and universal brotherhood and these values are also guided by Gandhi's approach.

Ansari also mentioned the historical cultural bonding shared by India and Bali, that an eminent scholar had called the South East Asia region 'Sanskrit Cosmopolis'. He, however, added that the cultural stream in Bali is truly distinct and unique.

"A shared heritage, not only reminds us of our past cultural links, but also nurtures our present interactions and promotes economic linkage between our two countries.

"As two vibrant and growing democracies, we share similar challenges and have similar opportunities of growth. Our shared socio-economic agenda calls for intensive cooperation and consultation for economic development and social empowerment of our people. Our cooperation is for mutual benefits and is guided by the requirements and priorities of the people and Government of Indonesia," Ansari said.

Given that majority of people, in both countries are young and that both India and Indonesia are pluralistic societies which follow democratic system, he said he was "convinced that our younger people should connect with each other and define a prosperous future not only for India and Indonesia but for Asia and the world as a whole".

Terming education as the key to the success, Ansari said that there is a need to have regular exchanges of teachers, scholars and students between our academic and research institutions.

"We would be happy to share our expertise in different sectors with the faculty and officials of your University under the spirit of South-South cooperation. We would also be keen to host your Faculty for post-doctoral research in India on subjects of mutual interest and benefit," he said, adding that India looked for more Balinese officials and students under these programmes in India.

An agreement in the field of Ayurveda was also signed during Ansari's visit.

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