New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday warned that pluralism and tolerance, which have been the hallmark of Indian civilisation, cannot be turned into fiction due to the "whims and caprices of a rigid few".
Delivering the Arjun Singh memorial lecture at the Nehru Memorial Museum in honour of the late Congress veteran, Mukherjee said, in a pluralistic democracy it was important that the values of tolerance, respect for contrary views and patience are inculcated amongst citizens, particularly the youth.
"Pluralism and tolerance have been the hallmark of our civilisation. This is a core philosophy that must continue undeterred. For, India's strength lies in her diversity.
"Diversity of our country is a fact. This cannot be turned into fiction due to the whims and caprices of a rigid few. Plurality of our society has come about through assimilation of ideas over centuries," he said.
He said India derives its strength from tolerance. It has been part of its collective consciousness for centuries and it was the only way it will work well for the country.
"There are divergent strands in public discourse. We may argue. 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," he said.